Seven Lexington-based media members — WLEX-TV sports anchor Alan Cutler (@cutler18), WKYT-TV news anchor Jennifer Palumbo (@JenNimePalumbo), Kentucky Sports Radio analyst Ryan Lemond (@ryanlemond), UK radio play-by-play announcer Tom Leach (@tomleachKY), WLAP Sunday Morning sports talk host Mark Buerger (@meisterbuerger), Winchester Sun sports editor Keith Taylor (@keithtaylor21) and Larry Glover Live sports talk host Larry Glover (@larrygloverlive) — offer their insights on Saturday’s Kentucky-Louisville game and who they think will win in a five-part series this week.
Question: Who will be the key player on each team for his team to win?
Cutler: “This year’s Cedric Jenkins.”
Palumbo: “For UK to win, Julius Randle can’t have an off night. He needs to take charge of the game and get a double-double. Louisville’s key player will be Russ Smith. He’s their best player and carries the team.”
Lemond: “It’s gotta be Julius Randle. This is a matchup where Randle can really exploit UofL’s weakness inside. I’m sure UofL will do everything to collapse and make Randle uncomfortable by hacking him to death, like North Carolina did. I just don’t think UofL has all the manpower to contain him for an entire game. If Randle is able to stay out of foul trouble he can show the form we saw earlier in the year and make up for some recent lack luster games.”
Buerger: “Russ Smith for Louisville. Much like Siva the past couple of years, Smith can either dominate the game or keep Kentucky in the game. If he plays well, Kentucky may be in trouble. For Kentucky it’s Randle. Say what you want about Andrew Harrison, if Randle doesn’t play well, this team isn’t winning games like this.”
Glover: “For UK, it’s Andrew Harrison. He has to handle the pressure that Pitino is going to throw at him. For U of L, Montrezl Harrell. He has to give them something inside, the Cards cannot concede the paint to Julius Randle and Willie Cauley-Stein.”
Leach: “Frequently, an unexpected player has been a key to victory in this series. For Kentucky, that could be Alex Poythress, with a big game off the bench. For Louisville, a big game from Montrezl Harrell would probably be a big boost.”
Taylor: “For Kentucky, it’s been a given that Julius Randle has to perform well for the Cats to have a chance to win. For the Cards, I think Russ Smith will be the key.”