By LARRY VAUGHT
It might look like just another game Kentucky should have no trouble winning, but UNC Greensboro is anything but a patsy for John Calipari’s Wildcats.
Other than Duke, UNC Greensboro will easily be the best team Kentucky has played this year.
Just ask Gonzaga, the team that just beat Duke. In last year’s NCAA Tournament, fourth-seeded Gonzaga had to rally at the end to beat No. 13 seed UNC Greensboro 68-64. Of course Gonzaga went on to reach the Final Four.
UNC Greensboro coach Wes Miller believes in a pressure defense. The Spartans are 7-1 and the lone loss was 97-91 at LSU. Saturday afternoon’s opponent has three players — Francis Alonso (19), Kryin Galloway (14) and Isaiah Miller (14) — averaging in double figures.
“Greensboro is really good, by the way, had LSU on the ropes at LSU,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said Wednesday after his team routed winless Monmouth. “I mean they’re, this will be a hard game for us. And so we need it going into this stretch of games that we have coming up, which are all going to be hard games.”
That means the gentle, kind Calipari is going on hiatus.
“We needed this (game) to say, here’s who is playing, if you’re not playing with energy, you’re not playing. I’m just not going to put you in,” Calipari said. “Or I’ll put you in with two minutes. You choose not to play with energy, you’re out. No matter who it is. Because we have to get to that point to see what kind of team we are.”
Kentucky Radio Network analyst Mike Pratt thought UK showed signs of progress against Monmouth but will need to play even better against UNC Greensboro.
“Greensboro is much better, significantly better than Monmouth or anyone UK has played except for Duke,” Pratt said. “It was no fluke they were close to the Zags last year.
“Kentucky is making steps defensively. Look at the way they closed out (against Monmouth on defense). Look at where their hands were on shooters and they are starting to try and find the ball. They are showing signs of getting it on defense, so Saturday will be a really good test.”