Written by: Dylan Ballard
Edited by: Sam Stallard
Several college basketball programs and fans alike say, “it’s our Super Bowl” when playing a legendary team like Kentucky. As a Kentucky native and fan, I understand why an up and coming program like Texas Tech could see their next game as their “Super Bowl”. Tomorrow Kentucky takes on last year’s NCAA tournament runner-up Texas Tech led by inspiring coach Chris beard. Personally, I wouldn’t deem Saturday’s game as the Raider’s “Super Bowl”, but according to local news outlet KCBD and Tickpick, tickets for the UK v. Texas Tech game is averaging around $395! Now that’s no literal Super Bowl ticket (with the average price currently well over $9000), but taking into account that other games at Texas Tech are currently averaging in the $30 range, the sky-high ticket prices speak to the fact that the fans look at this game as an NCAA Basketball Super Bowl.
The atmosphere in and around Lubbock, TX will be extra crazy for tomorrow’s matchup for multiple reasons. For starters, tickets for the game have been sold out since they went on sale. The 15,000-seat arena will be packed out. To add to the mayhem of a maxed-out court, starting at 10 AM free beer is given to all students of legal age. Personally, I believe this is crazy as that is 8 hours prior to tip-off. Lastly, this program is coming off an all-time high with Coach Beard being the current NCAA Championship runner-up. As a bonus, the Red Raiders never get to see the Wildcats come to town and they likely won’t see it again in the foreseeable future— adding to the rarity of the event. The only event that might even be comparable is Kentucky football hosting Clemson! Now that’s a hype game!
So here are some keys to Kentucky overcoming all the Texas Tech hype and getting a road win that could be a huge resume builder when it comes to seeding in the NCAA tournament.
- Staying out of foul trouble. Kentucky has struggled with depth all year and losing Kahlil Whitney today as he announced he was leaving the program doesn’t help a ton.
- Feed Nick Richards. Texas Tech is extremely guard-heavy and doesn’t really have an answer for Richards. If Nick can stay out of foul trouble and be the Nick Richards he has been all year we should fine
- If we get a lead, hold the gas pedal. Besides depth, the other main problem Kentucky has faced this season is extending the lead. We saw the team get comfortable against Arkansas and South Carolina and you don’t want to take that chance. Don’t slow down when we get the lead.
- We have to continue to get production out of our 4-spot. No matter who it is— Brooks, Sestina, Montgomery, or even Juzang should stay in a four-guard lineup. Everyone knows we have four constant guys and it looks as we are getting a fourth with brooks. No matter who it is we have to have some production from the four spot.
Photo Credit: Keith Taylor
There’s no doubt Saturday will be a tough game in a uniquely wild environment. However, if the Cats pull it off, it would be an amazing confidence booster and resume builder.
P.S. Watch out for big game Maxey Saturday.
Prediction: Kentucky 72 - Texas Tech 66
Player of the game: Nick Richards