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Kentucky vs. LSU: TV/Streaming Info, Keys to the Game, and Predictions

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Kentucky Wildcats guard Adou Thiero (3) celebrates his alley-op dunk as he checks out o.f the game as Auburn Tigers take on Kentucky Wildcats
© Jake Crandall / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Kentucky Wildcats are coming off arguably their most impressive win of the season, dominating a 13th-ranked Auburn Tigers team in a sold-out, College Gameday environment. The biggest takeaway from the win was their defense, which they will try to carry to Baton Rouge as they take on the LSU Tigers on Wednesday.

Coached by former Murray State head coach, Matt McMahon, the LSU Tigers are better in his second season at the helm. With just a 13-12 record, sitting 10th in the SEC, the Tigers are more dangerous than their record suggests. In fact, they have three quad-one wins on the season, the same amount as Kentucky, including a win at South Carolina this past Saturday.

That said, this is a game that Kentucky should and needs to win if they want to make a run at the SEC Regular season title. LSU is a team that likes to play a style that the Cats are comfortable with and have been in a slump, losing seven of their last ten games.

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Let’s look at the matchup.

Defensive Consistency

The most impressive part of Kentucky’s win over Auburn was their defense. According to BartTorvik, it was their best defensive performance of the season, beating their previous best, which came against Ole Miss, the game prior.

Fortunately for the Cats, LSU’s offensive ranks 89th, compared to the top 30 offenses that Ole Miss and Auburn came in with. However, the Tigers are shooting 49 percent from the field and over 40 percent from three over their last five games.

McMahon’s offense features a lot of ball screens, so communication and understanding LSU’s personnel will be critical. Considering LSUV averages 13 turnovers per game, amongst the highest in the country, using some pressure could yield good results and help the Cats get some easy baskets in transition.

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Coming off back-to-back season-best defensive performances, can Kentucky sustain the defensive consistency?

Jordan Wright

The name may sound familiar from his days at Vanderbilt, as he often torched Kentucky. In fact, in his 10 career matchup against the Cats, he has averaged 11.6 points on an unreal 63 percent shooting from three. That includes scoring 18 or more in three of his last four games against them.

Now at LSU, Wright is one of the Tigers’ most important players, averaging career-highs in points and assists. However, he is also averaging a career-low in field goal percentage, below 39 percent. So high usage, low efficiency.

Take Advantage on the Perimeter

LSU’s defensive philosophy consists of daring their opponents to shoot and beat them from the outside, giving up more than a third of their points to opposing teams from the three-point line, while holding opponents to just 45.3 percent on two-pointers.

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This Kentucky team is one of the best shooting teams in program history, shooting a nation’s best 40.5 percent. However, attempts have been down of late, shooting less than 20 attempts in three straight games.

Kentucky’s offense will create some great perimeter looks and they have the shooter to capitalize. If it is an off-shooting night, crashing the boards could prove fruitful as LSU gives up nearly 10 offensive rebounds to their opponents per game, amongst the highest in the country.

Opposing Players to Watch

G Jordan Wright 6-6, 230 lbs

  • 15.0 PPG (14th in SEC)
  • 5.1 RPG
  • 2.6

Averages in 10 games vs Kentucky (Transferred from Vanderbilt)

  • 11.6 PPG
  • 52.5% FG
  • 63% 3P

G Jalen Cook 6-0, 194 lbs

  • 15.6 PPG (10th in SEC)
  • 3.8 RPG
  • 2.8 APG

F Tyrell Ward 6-6, 180 lbs

  • 8.3 PPG
  • 42.2% 3P (9th in SEC)

Kentucky Basketball vs. Louisana State Tigers

  • Time: 9 PM EST on Feb. 21st
  • Location: Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, LA
  • TV Channel: ESPN will have TV coverage.
  • Announcers: To be announced.
  • Online Stream: Stream the game online using WatchESPN and the ESPN app.
  • Radio: Tom Leach and Jack Givens have the radio call on the UK Sports Radio Network.
  • Replay: WatchESPN and SEC Network (check local listings).
  • Rosters: UK | LSU
  • Stats to Know: UK | LSU
  • KenPom: UK | LSU
  • Team Sheet: UK | LSU
  • Odds: The odds for the game have yet to be released, but check out SportsBetExpert for your picks. ESPN’s matchup predictor has Kentucky winning, but not as large as a chance as you would thing against a team that has dropped seven of their last 10, just an 59.8% chance of victory. Bart Torvik is right in line at 59%. EvanMiya and KenPom are slightly higher at 63.3% and 63%.
  • Predictions: All the projections pick Kentucky, but my small margins. Bart Torvik picks Kentucky to win 85-83. Haslametrics has them winning 84-81. EvanMiya has it at 84-80, and KenPom is at 83-80.

Also published on A Sea of Blue.

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Men's Basketball

Rick Pitino Endorses Mark Pope, “He Will Lead The Kentucky Wildcats To Another Championship”

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Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports/ Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The captain of Rick Pitino’s 1996 “Untouchables”, Mark Pope, is “coming home” to lead the Kentucky Wildcats as the program’s next head coach, officially announced on Friday. While there has been some criticism of the hire, Pitino says he “couldn’t be any prouder to see Mark Pope lead the Kentucky Wildcats.”

While Pope has yet to win an NCAA Tournament game in two appearances, Pitino points out that several top coaches had their trials early in their careers. It took Jay Wright 11 seasons to win his first NCAA Tournament, and Billy Donovan was hired at Florida without an NCAA Tournament appearance. However, he heralds Pope as one of the “premier young coaches” in college basketball.

“Offensively, no one does it better,” Pitino said. “The way his teams move. The way his teams shoot the three. The ball movement. It’s outstanding.”

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It’s just the X’s and O’s though, Pitino “guarantees” that Pope loves and understands the program as well as anyone. “I can guarantee to you one thing, that nobody epitomizes the name on the front of the jersey more than Mark Pope.”

“Mark Pope will go on to greatness. You can put it down,” Pitino said. “He will do you proud. “He will lead the Kentucky Wildcats to another championship”

If his endorsement isn’t enough, Rick Pitino says he will “write the check himself” for NIL to help Pope be successful.

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Men's Basketball

Mark Pope Releases Statement As He Is Announced As Kentucky Basketball Coach

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Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Per UK Athletics

When his alma mater came calling, Mark Pope knew there was no place like home.

Pope, a captain of the University of Kentucky’s 1996 National Championship team, has returned to Lexington as the 23rd head coach of Kentucky’s storied men’s basketball program, announced Friday.

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“The University of Kentucky is the pinnacle of coaching in college basketball,” Pope said. “It’s the definition of a blueblood program where hanging a banner is the expectation every year. Equally as important, UK changed my life forever as a human being. The love and passion I have for this program, this University and the people of the Commonwealth goes to the depth of my soul.”

“I’m thankful to Dr. (Eli) Capilouto and Mitch Barnhart for this opportunity. I’m proud to be your next head coach and I can’t wait to do this together!”

Pope is a nine-year head coaching veteran with stops at BYU and Utah Valley, amassing a 187-108 career record. His squads won 20 or more games in six of the last seven seasons and he has made six postseason appearances.

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Men's Basketball

REPORT: Mark Pope Set Sign Five-Year Deal to Become Next Kentucky Basketball Coach

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Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky has found their guy. Former Wildcat and NCAA Champion, Mark Pope, is now expected to be named the next Kentucky basketball coach on a five-year contract worth $5.5 million annually, first reported by CBS Sports. For perspective, based on last season’s salaries, that is more than Dan Hurley (UConn), Scott Drew (Baylor), and Nate Oats (Alabama).

Pope comes to Kentucky with nine seasons of head coaching experience, after serving as an assistant for six seasons, from 2009-2015. In 2015, he was hired by Utah Valley where he coached for four seasons. In 2019, Pope was hired at BYU where he has taken them to two NCAA Tournaments, but has been upset by a double-digit seed in both appearances.

Pope has proven himself as a good X-and-O coach in his nine-year career, running one of the most innovative offenses in the country, but recruiting will be a real test as he has never signed a four-star recruit. Who he hires on to his staff and collecting NIL support will be critical.

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The move has been met with much fan criticism, as fans have been quick to point out that Pope has never won a conference title or an NCAA Tournament game. However, Mitch Barnhart is confident in the move, with some reporting that he is “excited” with the hire.

Just three days into the coaching search, this is an interesting hire with several big names like Billy Donovan and Bruce Pearl potentially available. Barnhart made the decision not to wait for Donovan, who is currently coaching the Chicago Bulls, and Pearl was not considered due to his “baggage”.

A new era of Kentucky basketball has begun.

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