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From the Pressbox: Harrow the key

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If the discussion is on the question of "Who is Kentucky's most VALUABLE player?" there could be more than one candidate to debate. But if the topic is the "most IMPORTANT player" for this team, the answer seems to be clear cut - Ryan Harrow.

When Harrow brings his "A" game, the Wildcats are hard to beat. Add in a strong performance from Archie Goodwin and the numbers are even stronger. When Harrow and Goodwin both score in double figures, UK is 10-3 this season. When they combine for at least 25 points, the record is 8-1 (and the one loss, at Louisville, represented a strong showing in defeat).

CBS' Greg Anthony saw that performance against the Cardinals from a courtside seat as a game analyst and he says it's a good rule of thumb in college basketball that good guards equal good teams.

"When you have that kind of guard play, it makes it tough for teams to disrupt what you want to do and you can control tempo and play your game," he said.

We certainly saw that play out last Saturday at Arkansas. Even though Harrow and Goodwin both scored in double figures (10 and 14 respectively), the Razorbacks' pressure defense kept the Cats from getting into their offense until deep in the shot clock on many possessions. In the three-game winning streak that preceded the loss at Arkansas, Harrow had 14 assists versus only three turnovers and he averaged 16 points per game.

Anthony was the point guard for those great UNLV teams of the early 1990s and he says good guards make big men better.

"Your bigs are only going to be as good as your guards allow them to do and that's just the reality. Your guards allow guys to do what they do best," he explained. "We played Georgetown when they had Dikembe Mutumbo and Alonzo Mourning but they were non-factors because we could take them (the Hoyas) out of everything they wanted to do. They could never get into their offense sets. We could disrupt their timing, their spacing and more importantly, when we had the ball, we could dictate and do what we wanted.

"You don't have to have pros at the guard position but you have to have guys that understand how we're going to win games," Anthony added. "Your guards have got to be an extension of the coach on the floor."

You can bet Georgia will do its best to pressure UK's guards Thursday night, but forcing turnovers has not been a strong suit for this year's UGA team. On the other hand, Saturday's opponent (Florida) is one of the best in the league. Only Alabama and league leader Arkansas force turnovers on a greater percentage of possessions than the Gators. And remember that Harrow was scoreless against Florida in Gainesville last month.

The bottom line is this: If Ryan Harrow has a good week, there's a good chance the "bubble" debate won't include Kentucky any longer.

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