LEXINGTON, Ky. -- After games against No. 6 Arizona, No. 8 Purdue, No. 17 Clemson and border-rival Indiana the past few weeks, it would seem that fourth-ranked Kentucky might overlook Canisius on Wednesday night.
But Kentucky coach Tubby Smith and his players say they'll show the Golden Griffins (4-1) the same respect as they have their well-known opponents.
"Competing. That's what we try to teach our players," Smith said. "We'll prepare for Canisius like we do for Indiana, Purdue, Arizona or anyone else."
Kentucky (6-1) and Canisius will play the second game in a doubleheader, following the Niagara-LaSalle contest in the Marine Midland Arena in Buffalo, N.Y.
"This is a tough Canisius team," Kentucky guard Cameron Mills said. "We'll have to go out and play very well. College basketball is crazy."
Mills then noted Maryland's victory over No. 3 Kansas on Sunday and Morehead State's win over Marshall on Monday night.
"You've got games like that during the season," Mills said. "Canisius beating us is not out of the realm of possibility."
Forward Scott Padgett admits that the Wildcats use the game to improve on different aspects of their own play.
"This is going to be a game where we're playing more against ourselves in that we want to continue to get better," he said. "Indiana and Kentucky is a big rivalry. You've got to find a way to get up for these games."
Kentucky is coming off a 75-72 victory over Indiana last Saturday at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. Except for the home opener against Morehead State, the Wildcats have played on neutral courts.
"It will be important to see how we respond to playing in a hostile atmosphere," Smith said of playing on Canisius' home floor.
After opening the season with a loss to Arkansas State (63-59), Canisius has since reeled off victories against Texas Southern (80-69), St. Bonaventure (71-64), Buffalo (74-57) and Siena (73-72).
Canisius is averaging 70.6 points a game, led by forward Jamie Cammaert's 15.8 and guard Kevin Thompson's 12.8.
"I've been impressed in how they've played all year long," Smith said of Canisius. "They're a very disciplined team and they play solid matchup zone defense."
Kentucky, also riding a four-game winning streak, is topped in scoring by guard Jeff Sheppard's 11.6 points and forward Allen Edwards' 10.6.
Smith said he was concerned about his team's performance at the free-throw line, where they are making just 65.4 percent of their attempts.
"You always worry unless you're shooting 100 percent," he said. "I thought that was an area we needed to improve on this year and we haven't."
After going to Canisius, the Wildcats will return to play four straight home games, beginning with No. 24 Georgia Tech on Saturday.
© 2017. All Rights Reserved. | Contact Us