Two matchups to watch besides Zeller-Davis during IU-UK II
By: Will Padgett III
This Friday is something a lot of people will be looking forward to. It would have been anyway, seeing as how EVERYONE looks forward to Fridays in general, but due to the up-coming rematch between the Indiana Hoosiers and the Kentucky Wildcats—this one is bound to electric.
Both fan bases are hungry for this game. UK fans are out for blood, screaming that Watford’s shot was “lucky”, and the only reason they lost was because it was in Assembly Hall. IU fans are eager to prove everyone wrong for not the first, not the second, not the third…you get the picture. With each game IU has been predicted to lose, they find a way to prove the doubters wrong. And this game will be not different.
The teams themselves are both adamant about winning this Sweet Sixteen matchup as well. The players, managers, assistant coaches and head coaches are looking at this game almost as though it is the final game of the season. And for one team on Friday night, it will be.
One of the biggest matchups on the floor will not be the one the “experts” will be watching between Zeller and Davis. It will actually be between Christian Watford and Terrence Jones. In the first meeting between these two, it was a tale of two incredibly talented players with opposite effects on the stat sheet. While Watford had 20 points on 4-6 shooting from behind the arc, Jones had 4 points and 6 turnovers in almost the same amount of time.
Jones will definitely be looking to prove he can handle the pressure and affect the game in a more positive fashion. To do so, he will need to work in the low post, establishing his weight against the much lighter Watford. The one thing he will need to do defensively is keep up with Christian on the other end, because although in the post his weight may be an advantage on offense, he tends to be a one-step slow against faster power forwards.
For Christian, ever since that Kentucky game, we have only seen a break-out performance from him a few times. He will need to come out strong and confident, and trust himself with whatever shot he takes. The one weakness he has is trying to drive to the bucket, getting stopped, and trying to throw up a midrange shot, which is not his game. He needs to either work himself all the way to the basket and finish, or stick to his deadly range. Defensively, Watford will need to make sure Jones cannot get the ball low in the post by using his long arms to deny the ball at all times.
The other important matchup outside the paint will be between Jordan Hulls and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist/ Marquis Teague. I put both UK players because Jordan will more than likely face one on offense (MKG) and the other on the defensive end (Teague). While on the attack, Hulls will have a much different role in this game. Due to the injury of Verdell Jones III, Jordan will be handling the ball much more than the first time. In doing so, he will need to take care of the ball much better than he did against Kidd-Gilchrist. When Jordan was running the offense, MKG was harassing him much like the pressure IU saw against VCU. In the first four minutes of the last meeting, Hulls committed four turnovers in the first four minutes when Kidd-Gilchrist was guarding him. But more importantly will be the effect Jordy has on Teague. If Hulls can keep up with Teague for the minutes he is in the game, another UK player will need to handle the ball, because outside shooting is not his strong point.
These two matchups will be the two that define the game on Friday. The outcome will be affected by others, but in crunch time look for these players to impact the game in such a way that makes their team either advance into the Elite Eight or start prepping for next season.