On Saturday, the Wildcats proved they had the size, strength, and the talent to compete in a very physical game. Kentucky overwhelmed Cincinnati beating them 64 – 51.
Kentucky’s performance last Saturday was less than superb. So why is it that they are able to consistently win games?
What sets Kentucky’s program apart from so many others this season is their oh-so unique “platoon system”. Often times it is very difficult to compete with any team that has 10 players who all can consistently compete at virtually the same level for the entire game.Coach John Calipari has what most coaches only dream of. He has the option to pull a player who is not performing well and replace them with a player who is almost, if not equally, talented. Physically the Wildcats wear teams down and become too much to handle. When you have 10 players, most who are playing no more than 20 minutes a game and rotate out frequently; physically and mentally teams wear down much sooner than they normally would.
No team has figured out how to beat Kentucky. As the Sweet Sixteen game approaches, many Kentucky fans have been left to wonder, when it comes to teams like Duke and Wisconsin, will Calipari “platoon system” work. As we get deeper in the tournament the teams get either bigger, more physical, or more efficient shooting around the basket, as did Cincinnati. Some of the more experienced teams who are used to playing against high-level competition will feed off of Kentucky’s energy and likely be able to compete the entire 40 minutes of the game.
What was most impressive about the performance Cincinnati put on was their stamina and their ability to maintain the same level of play for the entirety of the game. Most teams attempt to beat Kentucky by trying to increase the speed of play, playing a zone defense and trying to draw Kentucky’s bigs from underneath the basket. Often times this has resulted in fatigue for the opposing team and their level of play decreases significantly, leaving Kentucky to come out on top. Though it is hard for a team to maintain a high-level of play on defense against the Wildcats, while trying to run an efficient offense, Cincinnati managed to do so but came up just short of the win.
Kentucky struggled to pull away from Cincinnati for majority of the game. Cincinnati’s players did a great job containing Kentucky offensively and keeping the Wildcats on their hills defensively. The Bearcats guard, Troy Caupain, may not have looked as fired up as his team Octavius Ellis, but put on one of the most impressive performance on offense. Caupain scored 9 points, had 3 rebounds and 3 assist.
Kentucky faces off against West Virginia in the Sweet Sixteen. West Virginia players possesses great speed and quickness. They have one of the best defense in the country this year. They lead the nation in steals averaging 10.9 steals per game. The Wildcats must play at a high-level for the entire game if they’re going to beat West Virginia. Calipari has mentioned that he would like to see Cauley-Stein step up and Dakari Johnson contribute more on offense. As they continue on their quest for perfection, they will need to add a little more consistency to their game to remain undefeated and add to their collection of national titles.
Tune in to see if Kentucky can continue to make history or if West Virginia will be the lone team to knock the Wildcats off their winning streak.
Kentucky faces West Virginia Tomorrow, 9:45 pm on CBS at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.