By LARRY VAUGHT
Watching Kentucky beat Arkansas and then Vanderbilt in convincing fashion in a 48-hour period certainly impressed Missouri coach Kim Anderson going into Wednesday night’s game in Rupp Arena.
Kentucky has again been solid at home this year while Missouri has struggled to win on the road.
“With our guys, we’re young. I talk more about opportunity to go in and play a team like Kentucky. It was the same thing kind of with (Texas) A&M. You get a chance to go in and play a ranked team. A team that’s an experienced team,” Hamilton said Monday on the SEC coaches teleconference. “Kentucky has a measure of experience with a guy like – even though (Tyler) Ulis is young, he’s played a year and (Alex) Poythress has played. They have some experience.
“But I think the thing that really separates them is that they really, I think now, are playing well. Just watching them play Vanderbilt, and I’ve gone back and watched them play early in the year and then watched them play the last two or three games, and Murray can really shoot the ball, Ulis is a great floor leader, Briscoe is a strong player. Poythress is playing well. Their big guys are doing what they do.
“I guess the word I would use is maybe definement. I think maybe they’re getting to where they’re defined and accept their roles and they understand their roles. They’re certainly talented. We know it’ll be a tough game for us. Hopefully our guys will be excited to come in there and play. Hopefully we play better. A year ago we didn’t play well at all. It was a horrible performance. So hopefully we’ll come in and play better. We’re all about getting experienced and trying to get better each game and I’m hoping we’ll be able to do that Wednesday.”
Hamilton thinks from what he has seen, playing fewer players has helped Kentucky.
“Maybe it’s coming off and playing a couple good games and guys maybe understanding their roles, maybe where are their strengths, and they’re not playing very many guys, so the best players are playing the longest, the best players are playing the most minutes, which is really what it’s all about,” Hamilton said. “I know they went to Auburn and got beat. That probably woke them up a little bit.
“Since then, they’ve beaten some good – going and beating Vanderbilt, I know Vanderbilt came to Lexington, but that’s a good win. I thought from the get-go they did a great job of forcing Vanderbilt to be uncomfortable, and that’s similar to what they did to us when we came in there. They just didn’t let you do what you wanted to do. I thought they did a good job of that against Vandy.”
Kentucky coach John Calipari warned Monday that this might not be an easy game for this team.
“They had Texas A&M in a nail-biter. They had Georgia beat. They beat Auburn, a team that beat us. They were up 20 on Auburn. So they’re capable of beating us. I’m more concerned about what we’re doing and how we’re playing. Their guard play has been good. A lot of pick and rolls, five-out motion,” Calipari said.
“They do good stuff. They’ve been playing a lot of zone. Against Texas A&M, it was exclusively zone. But I think it’s a league game, it’s a hard game for us. Like I said, I’m concerned about my team just to keep the momentum going forward.”