This is my first college basketball game of the year. Not a bad start.
My gut tells me UK will play pretty well tonight. The VMI loss was bad, no mistaking that. But it wasn’t the end of the world.
This game, however, is no ordinary setting. It’s a spotlight national television game with ESPN’s College GameNight being filmed on the court as teams go through warm-ups. When Digger, Jay, Bob Knight and the guys are on the court, it tends to wind guys up. And North Carolina, even without Tyler Hansbrough, has a bunch of veteran guys who know how to play in these kinds of settings.
What does UK need to do? It needs to come in and play with the kind of toughness that head coach Billy Gillispie thought they would show in the opener, but didn’t. The kind they showed in the first half against North Carolina last season.
They need to remember that Patrick Patterson is one of the most skilled post scorers in the nation, and find a way to get him involved early, and keep him involved offensively.
The difference tonight, however, likely will be North Carolina point guard Ty Lawson. UK has nobody who can match up with him.
I look for UNC to be sharp and win by double-digits, but I do expect a much better performance from UK than it showed in the opener.