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By LARRY VAUGHT
Since he played for Rick Pitino at Kentucky, Sean Woods is a big believer in pressure basketball and that’s what he’ll have Morehead doing against No. 8 Kentucky Wednesday.
“I haven’t seen them really be pressured yet, so we will see how they handle ours,” said Woods. “I am just a coach that doesn’t like people to be comfortable. I do not like people to run their sets. I am going to put you in a situation where you better have better basketball players and be deep and able to take the pressure for 40 minutes or I will have a chance. I am going to be high octane for 40 minutes. If you have better players than I do, then you have a greater chance of winning. If you don’t, then I do.”
That philosophy didn’t work well at Maryland Nov. 12 when the Terps, who opened the season with a loss to UK, beat Morehead 67-45. Woods said his team turned the ball over too much that game.
“I think defensively we will be okay with the pressure we will apply (on UK). I think our size will come into play. They may be taller, but they are not stronger or wider than us,” Woods said.
The coach said his team had to be physical to compete against UK (2-1).
“We are not jumping as high. I think we can run just as fast. We have to use our strength. We have some older, tougher guys. We are going to see what happens,” Woods said. “We are going to throw everything but the kitchen sink at them.
“If they are the team everybody thinks they are, they will have success against us. If they are still trying to figure it out, then this will be another test for Cal (John Calipari) as far as us being more physical to get them ready for the SEC. We are going to do whatever we can (to win).”
Woods’ fast pace didn’t work when he brought Mississippi Valley State to play at Rupp Arena, but he says that team did not have the depth to match a much more talented Kentucky. Now he has more depth.
“One thing about my teams, we are going to give everything we have,” Woods said. “The only way to beat us is to have more players. I am deeper and more talented (than at Mississippi Valley State). We are going to play our style and come at you. If they are playing young and turning the ball over against our pressure, then we have a chance.
“Our guys are willing and ready to seize the moment. They felt like they could have played much better against Maryland. Now our confidence is better and I think we will pay much better against Kentucky than we played against Maryland. What the outcome will be, I don’t know yet.”
Morehead State forced 29 turnovers in an 88-74 win over Lafayette, the same team UK beat 101-49 two days earlier, but also had 20 turnovers of it own.
“We have to do a better job of after we turn people over of not turning the ball back over,” Woods said. “We did a good job creating chaos, but we have to do a better job capitalizing after turning them over.”
Woods said Kentucky “is getting better and better by the day” and that coach John Calipari’s team do not continue to make the same mistakes over and over.