3 keys to taming the Heels

December 4, 2010 

1. Good post play

Kentucky should be able to take advantage of North Carolina's guards. Dexter Strickland and Larry Drew II just don't appear up to the caliber of past Heels guard tandems. Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington they are not. But North Carolina could give UK some problems inside. The thin 7-footer Tyler Zeller, pictured at left, was off to a great start against Illinois on Tuesday night before he picked up his third foul with nine minutes left in the first half. UNC was never really the same after that. Neither was Zeller, who could not duplicate his effort in the second half. But the even thinner 6-10 John Henson did play well, or at least better than he had previously. North Carolina will enjoy a size advantage on Saturday. Expect Roy Williams to try to exploit that.

2. Get off to a quick start

North Carolina is reeling a bit. The Heels are 4-3. Roy Williams, pictured at right, has felt the need to strenuously defend heralded freshman Harrison Barnes, who has had a hard time finding the net. North Carolina needs confidence. Kentucky can't afford to give them confidence. A quick Kentucky start would serve to further the Tar Heels' frustration, and turn the Dean Dome crowd from supportive to anxious. It would also do wonders for a young John Calipari team making its first appearance on someone else's home court.

3. Transition defense

UK assistant coach John Robic said Tuesday night that transition defense would be the "A-No. 1 key" for Saturday. Couldn't agree more. North Carolina loves to run. The Tar Heels will push the ball. Kentucky's transition defense was poor in the win over Oklahoma last week in Maui, but then the Cats played much better transition defense the next night against up-and-down Washington. The thing about the young kids, they have to be constantly reminded. No doubt there were a lot of reminders around the Cats camp leading up to tip-off.

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