Bridgestone Arena. Nashville, TN. 3 PM EST. Round 3 of the Cats and the Vols. The home team took the win in each of the previous match-ups, but one big difference was the Cats key post, Reid Travis. Travis had a night during the first match-up scoring 11 points with 8 rebounds and 2 blocks for the 17 point victory in Lexington. He’s averaging 11 pts and 7 boards this season, so the Vols will need to limit his influence on the game in Nashville. Another difference in the past games was how each team shot. In the first game in Lexington, the Cats shot 54.7% from the field and 38.5% from three, while the Vols shot just 40.7% and 20.8% from three. In the redemption game on Rock Top, Kentucky went 31.8% from the field and 26.3% from three and Tennessee was 43.5% and 36.4% from three. Shooting efficiency will be key in this round 3, conference tournament showdown. The Vols will need somebody to step up and shoot lights out today whether that’s Jordan Bone, Bowden, Turner, or Admiral Schofield.
Other keys to the game will be defense, and controlling the paint. Back-to-back Player of the Year Grant Williams will need to establish his presence in the paint for Tennessee and the proof is in the pudding. In Tennessee’s loss Grant had just one basket that was not a three, but had 10 points from two in their win. Grant will get a lot of his points through the charity stripe, but he’s got to either rise up in the paint or force the Kentucky defense to collapse so much that he can kick it and the Vols’ shooters can tear it up from three. Turner and Bone can help get Williams going with their passing ability, and with how they both played last night, we know it’s possible. Defense is also going to be very important, Kentucky scored 86 when they won, but only 52 with the loss, while Tennessee was more consistent with 69 & 71 points. Here’s how some of the TTSM team predicts the semifinal match-up to go, with a key player for each team.
Carter Hutchison ( @carterhutchison ): Tennessee 74 Kentucky 68. Key Players: Grant Williams(TENN) and Tyler Herro(UK)
Aston Hutchison ( @astonhutchison ): Kentucky 84 Tennessee 79. Key Players: Jordan Bone(TENN) and Reid Travis(UK)
Peyton Anderson ( @ptown023 ): Kentucky 76 Tennessee 71. Key Players: Admiral Schofield(TENN) and Tyler Herro(UK)
Mackdogg ( @mackdogg3 ): Kentucky 80 Tennessee 70. Key Players: Lamonte Turner(TENN) and Keldon Johnson(UK)
Stetson Marlin ( @stetsonmarlin ): Kentucky 76 Tennessee 74. Key Players: Jordan Bone(TENN) and Tyler Herro(UK)
Cameron Eanes ( @cameroneanes ): Tennessee 73 Kentucky 70. Key Players: Admiral Schofield(TENN) and Tyler Herro(UK)
Featured Image via Courier Journal