February 3, 2009
Gillispie talking Mississippi State
The Kentucky Wildcats and head coach Billy Gillispie are hungry for another win.
After dropping two straight Southeastern Conference clashes last week to Ole Miss and South Carolina, the Wildcats will contend with Mississippi State tonight at 6 p.m. on Raycom Sports.
"It should be an interesting matchup," Gillispie said. "They are a really good team. Their coach has done of basically reinventing their team after the season started. They are a hard team to guard. They do a great job spreading you out and (Jarvis) Varnado is one of the most improved players from one year to the next that I've seen in a long time. He just continues to get better and is a major force down low offensively and defensively. The way they shoot the basketball presents a major challenge for anyone."
Gillispie feels that teams cannot focus too much on defending the Bulldogs' 3-point ability outside on the perimeter and leave Varnado open in the post but can't afford to double down on him because of the way the four guards can fill it up from the arc.
"Both present major challenges for us," Gillespie said. "We don't play four guards very often. They have very good athleticism on the perimeter and they are really athletic inside. They do a great job and coach does a great job of spreading people out. You'd better guard those 3-point shots because they can really make them. I think the guards definitely benefit from having Varnado in there and I think he has a great deal of room to operate their ability to shoot the three and you can't just wait in the paint for him all the time. It's a very well thought out plan by coach and they execute it very well."
The Wildcats are well aware of what a terror Varnado can be inside. The 6-foot-9 junior notched a triple-double against Kentucky last season with 10 points, 12 rebounds and 10 blocks. But it's Varnado's ability to block and alter shots that concern him the most.
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