I'll be the first to admit that I didn't know one thing about Kentucky's first round opponent, Saint Peter's, nor had I even heard of them until Selection Sunday. I'm assuming you're in the same boat, if not pretty close, because that's why you clicked this article. The night before Kentucky's first NCAA Tournament game in over 3 years, I decided to see what information I could dig up on the fighting peacocks.
This is the first ever matchup between the two programs. It also appears to be their first appearance back to the big dance since the 2010-11 season, and will be just their fourth all-time. In their first three appearances, they've lost in the First Round twice, and the Second Round once, never being seeded higher than #12. The Peacocks are led by second year head coach, Shaheen Holloway.
The university is based out of Jersey City, New Jersey, and they're from the MAAC Conference, which they just won the conference title on a seven-game winning streak, defeating Monmouth 60-54 for a postseason birth.
Let’s go over our game plan for Kentucky to get the win.
Watch out for KC Ndefo
The 2021-22 MAAC Preseason Player of the Year, KC Ndefo now has a program-best career total of 296 blocks, good for the fourth-most among active players in DI. In the home win over Quinnipiac on Friday, Ndefo swatted 11 shots to set the single-game program record for blocks in a game. It was tied for the second-most blocked shots all-time in a MAAC game. After leading the country in blocks per game in 2020-21, Ndefo is atop the MAAC and is 13th in the country with 2.73 blocked shots per game this season.
Don't let the game come down to the wire
Saint Peter's has two of the top free throw shooters in the MAAC in Doug Edert and Banks III. Edert is the MAAC leader shooting 89.0 percent from the stripe this season while Banks is fourth shooting 85.1 percent from the line. From Nov. 27 to Jan. 26, Banks III made 34 straight free throws which is currently the fourth-longest streak in Division I this season. In total, the duo has missed just 21 free throws in 160 attempts headed into the contest.
Fear SPU's Defense
The Peacocks currently rank fifth in the country in field goal percentage defense, 13th in three-point field goal percentage defense, 19th in scoring defense and 24th in blocked shots per game. The Peacocks have allowed under 70 points in 19 of their last 22 games and hold a 18-5 record this season when allowing less than 70. In their current seven game winning streak that includes the conference tournament, SPU is allowing just 51.7 points per game.
Suppress their multiple offensive threats
SPU has had one of the most balanced groups in the country this season and have had 24 consecutive games with at least eight different scorers. Offensively, nine different players have scored in double-figures in a game this season. Of the 12 student-athletes who have seen action in a game this season, all 12 have at least one start. Additionally, all twelve are averaging at least 8.5 minutes per contest.
Help Oscar, he has some competition
The Peacocks are one of the top rebounding teams in the MAAC, leading the league with a +3.1 rebounding margin this season. SPU has done a strong job on the offensive glass this season as they sit third in the conference and inside the top-100 in the country with 11.0 offensive rebounds per game. Positive results on the boards has been a strong indicator of success for the Peacocks this season as they have outrebounded their opponent in 11 of their 19 victories on the year.
Kentucky will take on Saint Peter's at 7:10 pm tonight on CBS in Indianapolis. Winner will take on Murray State/San Francisco.
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