Connect with us

Men's Basketball

Kentucky vs. Kansas: Viewing Info and Keys to the Game

Published

on

© Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, the Kentucky Wildcats entered Allen Fieldhouse playing their best basketball of the season and walked out with an 18-point victory against the Kansas Jayhawks. This Saturday, Kentucky will once again play Kansas, and again playing their best basketball of the season.

Comparing both teams, the Wildcats most certainly have the momentum, currently riding a four-game winning streak. In their last win, coming against Vanderbilt on Tuesday, they may have played their most complete game of the year.

Whereas, the Jayhawks have lost three straight, tied for the longest losing streak under Bill Self. However, all three losses came against ranked opponents.

Advertisement

With a revitalized Big Blue Nation, Rupp Arena is set to be rocking, hosting its first-ranked opponent this season. For the Wildcats, this game is a chance to prove that they have really turned the corner.

Let’s take a closer look at the game.

Get off to a Good Start

Even during their turnaround, one of Kentucky’s biggest weaknesses has been their poor starts. This is no fault for poor execution, as the Wildcats often miss open looks.

Fortunately, that has not been a strong suit of Kansas either. In many of their conference games, even their wins, the Jayhawks have gotten down double-digits early. It was inevitable that it would catch up to them and it has played a part in their losing streak.

Advertisement

Over their last two games (Texas A&M and Vanderbilt), Kentucky has improved slightly in their starts, but they need to be more consistent. With that said, Kansas will not be short of motivation on Saturday, so a good start should be anticipated, and Kentucky must be ready to match them.

Win the Rebounding Battle

One of Kansas’ biggest weaknesses has been their rebounding, as in three of their four losses, the Jayhawks have been outrebounded. With no big man, they have had to rely on team rebounding to make up for being undersized.

This plays in Kentucky’s favor, as they are one of the best rebounding teams in the country. With their new lineup, the team’s rebounding – especially Jacob Toppin – has been even better, averaging 38.3 rpg and outrebounding their opponent by more than 13 per contest over their four-game winning streak.

The area where Kentucky really needs to capitalize is on the offensive glass. On average, Kansas is giving up 9.1 rpg on a 73.2 defensive rebounding percentage. Even if it is an off-shooting night, Kentucky should be able to get extra scoring opportunities. It could be another big game for Oscar Tshiebwe.

Advertisement

Limit Jalen Wilson and Gradey Dick

Kansas may not have a true point guard or true center, but they have two of the best wings in college basketball in Gradey Dick and Jalen Wilson. The two are the Jayhawks’ leading scorers and combine for 36.3 points per game.

What makes them so dangerous is their perimeter shooting, as the duo combines for five of Kansas’s eight made threes per game. However, Wilson is also an aggressive straight-line driver who could give Kentucky fits.

Against Vanderbilt, Kentucky forced their two best perimeter shooters into 1-5 from three, and that must carry over to the Kansas game. Toppin has defended well against some talented forwards, so expect him to guard Wilson – potentially Chris Livingston as well to provide some physicality – but CJ Fredrick and Antonio Reeves must also continue to maintain their level of defense against Gradey Dick.

Kentucky Basketball (14-6) vs. Kansas Jayhawks (16-4)

Time/Date: 8:00 pm ET on Saturday, January 28th, 2023
Location: Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY
TV Channel: ESPN
Online Stream: WatchESPNESPN+, SEC Network+ or ESPN app
Radio: Tom Leach and Jack Givens have the UK radio network call on the UK Sports Radio Network.
Replay: SEC Network (check local listings).
Rosters: UK | KU
Team SheetsUK | KU
Stats To Know: UK | KU

Advertisement

Odds: DraftKings Sportsbook has yet to release the game odds. This is a matchup where computer models differ greatly. ESPN’s matchup predictor gives Kentucky a fair chance to win at 65.4 percent, but Bart Torvik has it at 43%, while KenPom is at 52%.

PredictionsBart Torvik picks the Wildcats to lose in a nail-biter, 71-69. KenPom has it as a 71-70 victory, Kentucky!

Also published on a Sea of Blue.

Advertisement

Men's Basketball

Tre Mitchell’s Stepfather Gives Injury Update, “Ridiculously Painful”

Published

on

Kentucky Wildcats forward Tre Mitchell injury is still "ridiculously painful"
© Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Tre Mitchell missed his third-straight game on Saturday, suffering a shoulder injury during the Ole Miss game, while also still trying to recover from a lingering back issue that kept him out two games prior.

His stepfather, Tony Bergeron, was on WPBK-FM on Friday, before Kentucky’s game against Alabama, where he gave an update on Mitchell. “I thought he came back a little too early (against Ole Miss), got hit, and sprained that shoulder like it was a football injury. The problem now is that it is ridiculously painful,” Bergeron said.

On a positive note, this may help Mitchell reach 100 percent. “He needs to just wait until his back is 100 percent,” Bergeron said. It’s clear that Mitchell hadn’t been himself while playing through the back pain, shooting just 35 percent (8-23) over the three games prior to his first DNP.

Advertisement

With compounded injuries, it is best to just rest and recover fully until making a return. Kentucky will need Mitchell at his best for a post-season run.

Continue Reading

Men's Basketball

Kentucky vs. Mississippi State, Round 2: TV/Streaming Info, Keys to the Game, and Predictions

Published

on

After a dominant win over Alabama, the Kentucky Wildcats will take on Mississippi State on the road.
© Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

What a win on Saturday for the Kentucky Wildcats, who put up one of the best offensive performances in college basketball this season on Saturday in a 117-95 win over Alabama. Now they will go back on the road to take on a Mississippi State team in a quad-one opportunity.

With Kentucky coming out on top in the first matchup, back in January, Mississippi State will look to even the season series and defend their home court on Tuesday. The Bulldogs are playing some of their best basketball of the season, riding a five-game winning streak, including a twenty-point road victory over LSU, whom Kentucky just lost to.

Let’s look at the matchup.

Advertisement

Interior Defense

Tolu Smith is arguably the best big man in the SEC. In the first matchup between these two teams, he certainly made his presence felt despite the loss, scoring a season-high 26 points on better than 70 percent shooting.

This time around will be a good test to see how an improved Kentucky defense handles a physical interior player. While improving and reportedly back at practice, Tre Mitchell is unlikely to play on Tuesday, so it will be up to the seven-footers.

Ugonna Onyenso is Kentucky’s most physical big, but Zvonimir Ivisic who just scored a season-high 18 points, gives Kentucky a higher offensive ceiling.

Rebounding Battle

Similar to the stereotypical SEC team, Mississippi State is a physical team that does well on the boards, ranking toward the top of the country in total rebounds, offensive rebounds, and rebound margin. In the first matchup, Kentucky outrebounded the Bulldogs 30-29, that effort will need to be there again Tuesday.

Advertisement

Josh Hubbard

Mississippi State’s equivalent to Rob Dillingham is Josh Hubbard. The sub-six-foot electric guard is a similar microwave-type player who just won his fifth SEC Freshman of the Week honor this season after scoring 32 points against LSU.

Scoring just three points on 1-11 shooting against Kentucky back in January, Hubbard is motivated to have a better performance. The priority in defending Hubbard is chasing him off the three-point line or pushing him back as more than 64 percent of his shots have been taken from deep. Similar to what Kentucky did to Alabama, make him finish at the rim.

Opposing Players to Watch

F Tolu Smith 6-11, 245 lbs

  • 16.8 PPG (9th in SEC)
  • 8.1 RPG (3rd in SEC)
  • 59.7% FG (1st in SEC)

G Josh Hubbard 5-10, 185 lbs

  • 15.3 PPG (10th in SEC)
  • 76 3PM (1st in SEC)
  • 7.9 3PA per game

G Dashawn Davis 6-1, 190 lbs

  • 6.2 PPG
  • 3.0 APG (17th in SEC)

Kentucky Basketball vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs

  • Time: 7 PM ET on February 27th
  • TV Channel: ESPN
  • Announcers: To be announced.
  • Location: Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville, Mississippi.
  • Online Stream: WatchESPN and ESPN app
  • Radio: Tom Leach and Jack Givens have the UK radio call on the UK Sports Radio Network.
  • Replay: WatchESPN and the SEC Network (check local listings).
  • Rosters: UK | MISS ST
  • Stats to Know: UK | MISS ST
  • KenPom: UK | MISS ST
  • Team Sheets: UK | MISS ST
  • Odds: DraftKings has yet to release the odds for the game, but check back on Monday evening. Despite a convincing win over Alabama, the projections are not in Kentucky’s favor. ESPN’s matchup predictor gives the Cats just a 40.9% chance at victory, with Bart Torvik right in line at 41%. EvanMiya and KenPom give Kentucky a slightly higher chance at the win, at 46% and 45% respectively.
  • Predictions: The projections have the game coming down to the wire. Bart Torvik and KenPom have Mississippi State winning by two points, 80-78 and 79-77. Haslametrics and EvanMiya have the Cats winning by just one point, 77-76.

Also published on A Sea of Blue.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Men's Basketball

Recap and Takeaways From Kentucky’s Dominating Win Over Alabama

Published

on

The Kentucky Wildcats dominated Alabama in a 117-95 win.
© Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Rupp Arena was rocking on Saturday when Kentucky faced no. 13 Alabama, and the Wildcats matched that same energy in a fun one. The Cats absolutely demolished the Crimson Tide by a score of 117-95, one of the best offensive performances ever.

Justin Edwards had his breakout game, finishing with 28 points on a perfect 10-10 shooting, and 4-4 from deep. Antonio Reeves added 24 points, Zvonimir Ivisic had 18, and Rob Dillingham poured in 16 to lead Kentucky in scoring to go along with an impressive 63% from the field and 54% from three-point range.

Let’s take a look at how the domination happened.

Advertisement

Justin Edwards Has His Breakout Game

Saturday’s game against Alabama will be known as the Justin Edwards Game. After having a rough season so far going through many mental battles, Edwards finally had his breakout game, and BBN and his teammates were so happy for him. Finishing with a career-high and team-high 28 points, he added 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals.

Edwards went a perfect 10-10 from the field, and shot 4-4 from deep. That makes Edwards only one of three players in UK history with at least 10 field goal attempts with no miss.

Kentucky Shows Historic Offensive Performance

The offensive performance on Saturday was one for the ages. Kentucky’s 117 points were the most scored against an AP Top 25 opponent in UK history. Shooting 63% from the field, it was one of the more impressive performances, while also shooting 54% from three-point range.

Kentucky had 5 players in double figures. The assist-to-turnover ratio was top notch, with a 24:10 ratio. It was a performance that will be remembered for a long time

Advertisement

Three-Point Defense Improves

Kentucky’s defense as a whole wasn’t the best, with allowing 95 points, but the Cats forced 16 turnovers and had 29 points off of them, while also having 7 blocks and 11 steals. The three-point defense was really impressive. Holding a team that attempts nearly 30 three-point attempts per game to just 17 attempts, it was certainly running Alabama off the three-point line. Alabama only made 6 threes on those 17 attempts, shooting 35%.

Making Alabama score in other ways besides three-pointers seemed to be an emphasis for Kentucky. They definitely succeeded at that on Saturday.

Kentucky had their best offensive performance of the season, and one that was against a top-15 opponent, and much needed in the final stretch of the season. Next, Kentucky will head to Mississippi State on Tuesday. Tip-off will be at 7 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN.

Check out the box score and highlight’s from Saturday’s win.

Advertisement

Box Score

Highlights

Continue Reading

Trending