Thought to be Kentucky's potential weak link as tournament play began, freshman Marquis Teague has been an exclamation point so far. In tough NCAA tourney matchups with Iowa State and Indiana, Teague has combined for 38 points, 14 assists and only four turnovers.
Baylor's Pierre Jackson (team-best 13.5 ppg; 5.8 assists) is a tough-minded, junior-college transfer with a lot of game. He hit a trey that forced OT in a Baylor win over West Virginia on Dec. 23. At 5-foot-10, Jackson saved a victory at BYU on Dec. 17 when he blocked a three-point try by 6-9 Brandon Davies.
Silently, Doron Lamb is leading Kentucky in scoring (17.7 ppg) in the NCAA Tournament. The 6-4 sophomore is ripping the cords (18 of 30 field goals, 8 of 12 treys and 9 of 10 foul shots) in the Dance. He drove the ball hard to the basket against Indiana.
Brady Heslip is the hottest three-point shooter in the tournament, having made 15 of 25 treys. The 6-2 transfer from Boston College scorched Colorado with nine threes and 27 points. He is also a 94.4 percent foul shooter. Look for UK to attack Heslip defensively, however, if it can.
After scoring in double figures only four times in 11 games, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist produced a monster game against Indiana with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Against a Baylor roster whose athleticism and length essentially matches Kentucky's, the Cats will need MKG's always fully revved motor and toughness.
Quincy Miller, a 6-10, 210-pound freshman, can be lethal as he showed in a 29-point game against Missouri on Jan. 21. His talent is such, he was on Kentucky's recruiting radar. The Big 12 co-Freshman of the Year has made only 10 of 25 field goals in the NCAA tourney, however.
Terrence Jones had five rebounds against Indiana, the first time in UK's six post-season games so far he grabbed fewer than nine in a game. Baylor's elongated front line will test Jones' ability to get his shot off.
In Baylor's round of 16 victory over Xavier, Quincy Acy punished X with 20 points — including some ferocious dunks — and 15 rebounds. The 6-7, 235-pound senior (11.7 ppg, 7.4 rpg for season) had been in a scoring slump before the Xavier breakout, however, with 18 points combined in the Bears' prior three games.
Rare foul trouble limited Anthony Davis to only 25 minutes in UK's win over IU, but he still put up nine points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots. Teams have gotten more physical with Davis in the post-season, and his shooting accuracy (25-of-52 field goals) has gone down.
Perry Jones III is the one player in the country whose talent ceiling may be close to Davis's. Yet the 6-11, 235-pound sophomore is not nearly as consistent as the Kentucky star. Before scoring 14 points against Xavier, Jones III had made 4 of 14 shots and scored only nine points total in Baylor's NCAA wins over South Dakota State and Colorado.
In his final NCAA tourney, UK senior Darius Miller has made 13 of 19 shots combined in the wins over Iowa State and IU and scored 19 points in each game. Miller scored eight straight early in the second half against Indiana at a time when the game was tense. Kyle Wiltjer has played only 17 minutes in the NCAA tourney so far but has hit a trey in UK's past two wins.
At 6-10, Anthony Jones (5.3 ppg; 2.8rpg) gives Baylor even more size off the bench. He's averaging 8 points in the NCAA tourney. Guard A.J. Walton started 30 games last season and 18 this season and had five assists against Xavier. Freshman guard Deuce Bello has scored nine points total in the NCAAs.
Baylor played eventual national champion Duke very tough in the 2010 round of eight and will not be intimidated by the moment Sunday. As the team expected to win, the pressure will be on Kentucky if the game gets close. The Cats seemed loose in the their interview sessions Saturday, though. The Cat-lanta factor — the thousands of UK fans that fill the Georgia Dome when Kentucky plays here — is a clear edge for the Wildcats.
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