By LARRY VAUGHT
Sophomore center Tyler Davis, a preseason all-SEC selection, is averaging 14.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game for Texas A&M going into tonight’s game with Kentucky in Rupp Arena.
Kentucky coach John Calipari says Davis does a “great job fighting for position” and teammates know to look for him.
Freshman Robert Williams is coming off the bench to add 10.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocked shots per game.
“They’ve got one of the most imposing frontlines in college basketball, not just in our conference. They do a great job of running their offense which puts bigs around the rim for offensive rebounding,” Kentucky assistant coach Tony Barbee said Monday.
“That’s why they’re one of the better offensive rebounding teams in the country, and it starts with Davis. He’s averaging four – four or five offensive rebounds a game. So, it’s going to be crucial to block out, keep your man away from the ball, and then get our guys to go get the ball.
“Obviously he has size. It’s a huge factor, but he plays one or two moments ahead in the game. He’s always angling for position in the post. He’s always angling before a shot is taken to get offensive rebound position. It’s what makes him so effective down there. He’s very similar to Bam (Adebayo) in that way. Bam thinks the game the same way. He’s always a step or two ahead of his opponent. That’s what the better players do. They see the game ahead and a little faster paced then other guys do.”
Barbee said UK’s guard also have to do more rebounding on a consistent basis.
“Our guards are so big, so long, so athletic that they’ve got to use that to their advantage to go rebound. We’ve been focusing on Malik Monk in that area. He should be a guy that goes and gets five, six, seven rebounds a game – because he can. And he has the ability to. He’s one of the other guys that we’ve been focusing on too. He’s got to come help us defensive rebound,” Barbee said.
Calipari said Monk has to be willing to “mix it up” inside more and believes he should get a double-double every game.
“The double that’s a little hard for him is to go get 10, 11 rebounds, which he can if he focuses on it,” Calipari said.
Four of the last five Kentucky-Texas A&M games have gone to overtime. Both Calipari and Barbee agree the reason for that is that the Aggies always play solid, physical defense.
“It’s why they’ve been one of the best teams in this conference since Billy’s taken over at Texas A&M. It’s going to be a fist fight. All of our games have been. They’ve been down to the wire, so we expect nothing less,” Barbee said.