The Kentucky Wildcats (8-3) haven't been as dominant this season as we've come to expect in recent years, but they can pull a huge upset over in-state rival No. 3 Louisville by focusing on and executing these keys.
With a loaded roster full of freshman yet again, it's safe to expect this team will get better as the season progresses. But they won't have many more chances to earn statement wins like beating a team such as Louisville.
John Calipari must do everything in his power to make his team execute these important aspects of the game to help his team have the best shot at victory over an elite Cardinals squad.
Let's dive in and see what the Wildcats must excel in to beat Louisville.
Shut Down Opposing Three-Point Line
Defense has paved the way to Kentucky's success in the Calipari era, and no facet of that defense has been more crucial than defending the three-point line. This will ring even more true against Louisville.
The Cardinals boast four players who have made at least 15 threes on the season, an undoubtedly amazing statistic. If you mirror that to Kentucky's, they only have two players who've made more than seven.
The young Kentucky team doesn't have to outshoot Louisville; they just have to minimize their damage from behind the arc.
If the Wildcats can't find a way to stifle their opponent's three-point shooting, it'll be a long game for the fans in blue.
Keep UL's Gorgui Dieng From Having Big Comeback Game
Louisville boasts one of the most dominant defensive big men in the country in Gorgui Dieng, but he wasn't expected to make his return from a broken left wrist before this in-state showdown. That all has since changed, as Dieng will make his return Saturday, according to CBS Sports.
Dieng averages more than eight points per game to go along with eight rebounds, and he'll be a handful for freshman Nerlens Noel, who is widely expected to be a lottery pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.
It's hard to imagine Rick Pitino returning Dieng before he's completely healthy, but it's possible there will be some rust to knock off his boots. This Wildcats team isn't playing top basketball, but they're certainly growing used to playing together and they could pounce on a squad that is still trying to incorporate one of their most important players back into the lineup.
Keep an eye on Dieng's performance and his matchup with Noel, as two future NBA-ers will get a chance to clash.
Point Guard Ryan Harrow Must Play Mistake-Free Basketball
The point guard position has been the most trivial in Kentucky's system over the past few seasons.
The sky is the limit when there's an elite point guard manning the floor (see: John Wall, Marquis Teague), but it's completely different when they don't have that same leadership bringing the ball up the floor. When you have this many talented players on one team, the ball must be shared and passing must be utilized. This all starts at the PG position.
That's been one of the biggest areas of concern this season for Kentucky, as point guard Ryan Harrow has been hit-or-miss all season. If he believes in himself and the offense, the Wildcats can achieve great things, but get in his head and the 'Cats are doomed.
Stud play makers like Archie Goodwin and Alex Poythress need the ball on the wing in positions where they can score, and that starts with Harrow.
Playing on the road in a tough environment, Harrow will need to play mistake-free basketball to give Kentucky a chance.
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