Kentucky bracing for North Carolina's big men

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Kentucky bracing for North Carolina's big men

Post  BestdamnUKfanperiod on Fri Dec 03, 2010 1:04 am

Kentucky bracing for North Carolina's big men

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Since Kentucky center Enes Kanter was ruled permanently ineligible for receiving improper benefits, the Wildcats have yet to be truly tested inside.

Saturday should change that.

The 10th-ranked Wildcats (5-1) travel to Chapel Hill to play North Carolina. The Tar Heels (4-3) are expected to start 7-footer Tyler Zeller and 6-10 forward John Henson in the game. The two have combined to average 25.8 points and 17.6 rebounds through seven games.

With Kanter ineligible, Kentucky has started senior Josh Harrellson (6-10, 275 pounds) in all six of its games — the team's only starter over 6-8. Junior Eloy Vargas, a 6-11 forward in his first year as a junior-college transfer, is the only option to rotate with Harrellson underneath.

Harrellson and Vargas have combined for 8.5 points and 12.6 rebounds per game.

The lack of size "presents a big challenge," Kentucky assistant coach John Robic said. "The biggest thing for our guys is going to be getting back on defensive transition. They do a great job of getting early post position, and that is their first look. Everybody who plays them, forever, knows the first thing is getting back on defensive transition. You can't allow them easy baskets, you've got to make their post players work and don't give them any angles to the goal."

Coach John Calipari was at practice on Thursday but declined to talk to reporters while continuing mourn the death of his mother, Donna, who passed away last weekend.

The NCAA was expected to hear an appeal this week on the ruling in Kanter's case, but Robic said he didn't know "anything" about the case or the hearing.

"I'm just like everybody else around here," he said.

Freshman point guard Brandon Knight said Kentucky has done a "decent job" of running its transition defense, but Saturday will be a true test of where it stands.

"It's definitely an area we still have to get better at," Knight said. "I'm pretty sure we'll work at it every day in practice. We'll continue to get better at it but we better use it well in this game."

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