LEXINGTON — Lamar players know plenty about the matchups for Saturday’s Kentucky-Louisville game since the Cardinals lost to both teams.
While guards Mike James and Anthony Miles did not want to pick a winner, both agreed that Kentucky was more athletic than Louisville as well as No. 2 Ohio State, another team they faced this season.
UK, said. “Kentucky is so talented. They are not as structured as Louisville and Ohio State, but they definitely are just as good if not better probably. Kentucky is a great team.”
“To be honest, I just think Kentucky is better,” Miles said. “Athletically, I didn’t think Louisville was as athletic, or Ohio State was. Kentucky’s a good team. We probably will never see a team like this again. They are a definite national title contender or maybe even the favorite.”
James said having the UK-Louisville game in Rupp Arena will be a huge advantage for Kentucky, which has not lost at home since coach John Calipari arrived.
“It’s tough for anybody to play Kentucky, especially to come in here in Rupp Arena with all these people. They were pumped in our game, so I know they will be pumped for that game Saturday. There are a lot of fans and you could hear them talking and saying stuff to you. They get loud. At one point, they got real loud. It helps,” he said. “Kentucky is definitely long and athletic and they have a lot of skills. When we played Louisville, we just did not make shots. We got the shots we wanted and shots we can normally make, we just didn’t have them fall.
“But Kentucky is so big. On TV, they are playing against other people and you can’t tell how big they are. I knew how tall a couple of them were because I played against them before. Like (Doron) Lamb, I didn’t think he was that tall. (Michael Kidd-) Gilchrist was taller than I¿thought. (Darius) Miller was definitely taller. Actually (Marquis) Teague was taller than I¿thought, too.”
Miles, who played at Rupp Arena three years ago as a freshman, says Kentucky’s athleticism is hard to overcome.
“They are really athletic and they put a lot of pressure on you. (Anthony) Davis is a shot-blocking machine,” Miles said.
Louisville’s full-court press took a toll on Lamar. James isn’t sure that will happen with Kentucky.
“It is a man to man press. They put a lot of pressure on you and will gamble. It’s basically a press to make sure that you don’t make no mistakes. You can’t make mistakes against Louisville’s press and have to make sure you take care of the ball,” James said. “But Kentucky is great in the open court.
“Davis, I have never seen nothing like that in person.¿You can just throw a lob and he stands flat-footed and goes up and catches it. He’s great. They all dribble up the court from Lamb to Teague to Miller to Gilchrist to (Terrence) Jones. They can all dribble up the court, pass and make smart decisions, so that really helps out and makes them awfully hard to press.”
Miles said Kidd-Gilchrist’s versatility gives UK¿a dimension that is hard to compensate for, too.
“That’s a NBA player right there. I like how he plays,” Miles said. “He is out there talking, but always has something positive to say. Good player. Louisville doesn’t have anybody like him. Nobody may.”
James said the Cardinals had only one strategy to try and foil UK.
“Really just make them play defense. We didn’t want to take any quick shots and let them get out quick and throw that lob. You can’t take bad shots. Work the clock and take as many good shots as you can against them,” James said. “
But saying that and doing that are two different things and you better really great defense because they can all score and that really makes it hard.”