How all the pieces fit for Kentucky

March 12, 2012 

  • Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky

    When: 7 p.m. Saturday
    Where: LP Field in Nashville
    TV: ESPNews
    Radio: WBUL-FM 98.1; WLAP-AM 630; WWRW-FM 105.5

Kentucky enters the 2012 NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed. Here is a breakdown of the Wildcats' roster:

Twany Beckham

6-5 junior guard; played 44 minutes

Beckham is a transfer from Mississippi State who became eligible in December. He played in 13 games, with a season-high nine minutes at South Carolina on Feb. 4. He attempted only one shot all year.

Tourney role: He probably will not play meaningful minutes, barring deep foul trouble. If called on, his role would be to defend and distribute.Anthony Davis

6-10 freshman forward;14.4 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 4.7 blocks per game

It is easy to make a case that Davis is the top player in college basketball. He came in as the No. 1-ranked freshman and exceeded expectations. His defensive presence was clear from the start, and he led the nation in blocked shots. Early on, most of his points came on dunks, but as the season progressed it seemed he added a new dimension to his game weekly. In the last 10 games of the regular season, he hit 66 of 91 shots.

Tourney role: If his progress continues, he can dominate the tournament. He looks like he is only scratching the surface. He must continue to avoid foul trouble.

Terrence Jones

6-9 sophomore forward;12.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 56 blocks

Jones was on some pre-season All-America lists. He struggled at times early in the year and was bothered by a hand injury. Most of his numbers are down from a year ago, but he was surrounded by superior inside talent this season. He became more consistent late in the season offensively and on the boards. His inside muscle is needed on both ends of the court. He may not be the best player on this team, but he is capable of being one of the best players in the tournament.

Tourney role: Most people feel UK is nearly unbeatable if Jones is on top of his game. He must stay aggressive and not lose focus the rest of the way.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

6-7 freshman forward;11.9 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 66 assists

If not for Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist may have been the nation's top freshman. He plays with high energy and intensity, which immediately put him in a leadership role. He can be a defensive stopper against almost any position. Few players finish in transition better than he does. He also has shown a knack for clutch plays and excelling in big games, as illustrated by his 24-point, 19-rebound game against Louisville and his 17 and 11 against North Carolina.

Tourney role: He finds multiple ways to hurt an opponent. One way or another, Kidd-Gilchrist figures out how to win. Don't be surprised if his star shines on the brightest stage.

Doron Lamb

6-4 sophomore guard;13.3 ppg, .480 3FG pct., .840 FT pct.

Lamb is one of the top pure shooters in the tournament. He is UK's top three-point shooter and free-throw shooter. He made at least one three-pointer in the final 13 games of the regular season. He can strike quick and with flurries that can bury an opponent. His 28 turnovers tied Davis for the lowest among the six regulars. Lamb has a good mid-range game and filled in nicely at point guard when needed.

Tourney role: He does not have to score big for UK to win, but it makes the Cats more dangerous when he does. He has tournament experience and does not shy away from the big shot.

Darius Miller

6-8 senior guard;10 ppg, .473 FG pct., 65 assists

Miller has played in every game at UK the past four years, and his veteran leadership has been invaluable. His game has progressed each year. A player who at one time seemed hesitant to take clutch shots has become Mr. Clutch for this team. He scores in a variety of ways: posting up, with mid-range floaters or hitting three-pointers. Perhaps more than any UK player, he can create his own shot. He accepted his role off the bench and often provided a lift.

Tourney role: As a sixth man, he can be a tough matchup. UK needs him to continue his aggressive approach and not slip back into being passive.

Marquis Teague

6-2 freshman guard;9.8 ppg, 146 assists

Teague faced the pressure of being the next John Calipari point guard. He struggled at times early and tried to force things. He gradually improved and may have been the last piece of the puzzle for this team. In the final 11 games of the regular season, he had 60 assists and 24 turnovers. His quickness allows him to penetrate — where he can take it to the rim or dish to a teammate. Teague is surprisingly strong for a freshman and his coach calls him a pit bull on defense.

Tourney role: Teague needs to keep improving and not force matters. He does not need to put up big numbers, but he must set his teammates up to do so.

Eloy Vargas

6-11 senior forward;1 ppg, 2 rpg

His numbers were actually down a little from a year ago, mostly because of the emergence of Davis. Vargas filled in admirably in a couple of games with seven and five rebounds. If needed, he could help on defense and the boards.

Tourney role: If he plays much, that probably means Davis is in foul trouble, which is not good news.

Kyle Wiltjer

6-9 freshman forward;5.6 ppg, .412 3FG pct., .815 FT pct.

His ability to hit the three-point shot added a new wrinkle to the offense as the season progressed. He clearly was behind the top six in contributions, but did play in every game. He gave UK an outside threat against the zone other than Lamb and Miller. Down the stretch of the regular season, he was 11-for-16 on three-pointers. He needs to get stronger, but Calipari says Wiltjer's rebounding and defense improved.

Tourney role: If defenses pack it in and he is called on, he needs to go in and hit outside shots.

Others

Jon Hood: 6-7 junior guard Brian Long: 5-9 freshman guard Sam Malone: 5-11 freshman guard Jarrod Polson: 6-2 sophomore guard

Note: Statistics include regular-season games only.

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