ESPN analyst Darrin Horn shared three things Louisville needs to defeat Kentucky Friday night.
INDIANAPOLIS (WDRB) – You've seen the projections from the computer models and watched the replay of the first Kentucky-Louisville basketball game.
Louisville is favored in the computer projections. Kentucky won the first game against the Cardinals by seven points. What does Louisville have to do to win the rematch Friday night in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium?
I asked a former coach – Darrin Horn, the former coach at Western Kentucky and South Carolina. He has worked as a college basketball analyst for ESPN the last two seasons. Horn gave me three keys for each team. I'm sharing the three factors for Rick Pitino's U of L team first. I'll post his three keys for Kentucky this afternoon.
THREE FACTORS FOR LOUISVILLE
1. "They've got to get some easy baskets. Whether that is points off turnovers, whether that's on the offensive glass, whether that's getting to the foul line by driving the basketball with their perimeter guys, I think they've got to pick up some easy points.
"Points off turnovers will be big for Louisville. They've got to find a way to get Kentucky's big guys away from the basket. Wichita State did a pretty good job of that on Sunday.
"If you watched the Wichita game, Wichita did a bunch of things where they reversed (the ball from one side of the floor to the other) and reversed and then everybody (on Kentucky) is up by the foul line and they just drove it. Louisville has to get those big guys away from the basket with whatever it is that Rick wants to run.
"Louisville has shown they can grind it out as well. They'll have to show they can grind it out in this game, too.
"Essentially in March you are what you are. Can you do what you do better than the other team? If it comes down to a half-court where we're going to sit down and guard you and use our athleticism and length versus yours, don't you think Kentucky has the advantage?
"That's why I'm saying get easy baskets – off steals, part of that could also be making threes. Sometimes the other team plays great defense and you throw some threes in.
"They have got to throw some shots in and they have to get some points off turnovers, they've got to get to the foul line. They've got to get some put backs."
2. "Russ Smith has to have a big night. If he does, I think it changes everything. Kentucky can take care of all the things, it needs to do, but if Russ gets 25 or 30 it might not matter. He's going to score. He's a great player. If he has one of those nights when he's really scoring in bunches, it changes the whole feel of the game."
3. "Either one of those bigs (in Louisville's frontcourt) or a guy like (Luke) Hancock has to have a great night. That's why the Russ thing is so important. If he gets 30, it takes the pressure off those guys to do that. If he is in his normal 15-to-19 point range, one of those other guys is going to have a have a great game, too.
"They've got to have somebody besides Russ have a big night. Not a Russ night. But a big night. Could be Chris Jones. Could be Luke making threes. Could be Montrezl (Harrell) getting on the glass and getting loose in there somehow and putting up big numbers. Somebody else.
"That's what the tournament is all about. Look at that game Sunday. Those teams played awesome and they guarded their rear ends off. At the end of the day, they had great players that made great plays. That's what March is."