Kentucky Basketball: What Wildcats Must Do to Upset Louisville

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistDecember 25, 2012

LEXINGTON, KY - NOVEMBER 23:  John Calipari the head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats gives instructions to his team during the game against the Long Island Blackbirds at Rupp Arena on November 23, 2012 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Although Kentucky enters its annual rivalry game against Louisville as the underdog, the team is certainly capable of pulling the upset. 

This is rare territory for the Wildcats, who are currently unranked in the AP Poll. Considering the Cardinals are No. 4 in the same poll, it will not be easy to continue the four-game winning streak.

However, Kentucky can win its biggest game of the regular season if it follows these keys to victory.

 

Low-Post Defense

While Louisville's best scorers—Russ Smith and Peyton Siva—are both guards, the team cannot do much without scoring help from its frontcourt.

In the loss to Duke, Smith and Siva combined for 36 points, but forward Chane Behanan was only able to manage seven. He played better in the narrow victory against Illinois State, but his 1-for-7 from the free throw line almost cost his team the win.

Freshman Montrezl Harrell has been playing well lately and is really the only other scoring threat among the team's big men.

Between Nerlens Noel and Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky has the ability to shut down these players. The key, however, will be to play smart and avoid foul trouble.

Putting pressure on the backcourt to score will force Louisville to take lower percentage shots and will slow down the offense.

 

Hit Open Threes

Louisville has one of the top defenses in the nation, so it is important to not miss opportunities. Kentucky has to make sure it nails as many deep shots as possible to give itself a chance of winning. 

This has been a major problem in the team's losses this year, especially with Kyle Wiltjer.

The sophomore is one of the best shooters in the country. He has hit 41.3 percent of his shots from deep on the year and made seven three-point baskets on two different occasions this season.

However, he made only two of his 15 attempts in Kentucky's three losses. This equals a shooting percentage of only 13.3 percent. 

Wiltjer and the rest of the Wildcats must remain confident and make a high percentage of shots from behind the arc.

 

Score in Transition 

Another way to get past the Cardinals' defense is to get points before they are able to set up in the half court.

Luckily, Kentucky has the ability to get these types of baskets as well as anyone in the country. The speed and overall athleticism of the players allow them to beat defenses up the floor and score easy points.

This can be achieved in missed shots, but it is much easier to score in transition after turnovers. Against Duke, the Wildcats were only able to force eight turnovers. This did not lead to a lot of points.

Louisville averages 13 turnovers per game, and point guard Peyton Siva has been known to get a little wild on occasion. He has topped five turnovers three times this year and did the same in nine games last year.

Archie Goodwin needs to keep a lot of pressure on the ball-handler throughout the game and make him force plenty of turnovers to stall the offense and create easy buckets on the other end.

If Kentucky can do these things, it will have a great chance of leaving with a much-needed victory.