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Three Things to Watch, Predictions, and TV Info for Kentucky vs South Carolina State



UK Athletics

From Michigan State to South Carolina State, the Kentucky Wildcats will look to bounce back as they play one of the worst teams they will play this season.

Located in Orangeburg, South Carolina, South Carolina State plays in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference – the same as previous opponent Howard – where they are predicted to finish second to last in the conference.

While the program had success from the late 1970s to the early 2000s, with five NCAA tournament appearances, the Bulldogs have not had much since. In fact, in the last dozen years, SC State has just one winning season.


The outlook doesn’t look to be great for this season either. In their most recent game, the Bulldogs lost to Duquesne by 25, a team that Kentucky beat by 25 last week. Furthermore, KenPom has them ranked 347th out of 363 teams.

With that said, Thursday night should not be close, so expect the Wildcats to experiment and try things ahead of their game against the Gonzaga Bulldogs on Sunday.

Let’s look at three things to watch for.

Will CJ Fredrick and Antonio Reeves regain form?

Going into Tuesday night’s game against Michigan State, CJ Fredrick and Antonio Reeves were the team’s leading scorers and top offensive threats. However, they looked to be a shell of themselves against the Spartans.


Combined, the duo was 3-14 from the field and scored just 10 points. However, unlike the first two games of the season where they played alongside each other, forcing defenses to guard both of them, they play just 4 minutes and 39 seconds together.

With Tshiebwe now back in the lineup, an interior offensive presence, it should help with spacing and help the two get better looks. It is much more difficult to stop Fredrick, Reeves, and Tshiebwe together, rather than just a combination of them.

To prepare for Gonzaga, Fredrick and Reeves find their shot and offensive rhythm with a fully healthy roster, against an inferior opponent.

Frontcourt productivity outside of Toppin and Tshiebwe

Looking at the roster on paper, Kentucky looks to have a loaded frontcourt with Damion Collins, Ugonna Onyenso, Jacob Toppin, Oscar Tshiebwe, and Lance Ware.


While there is certainly talent there, there was not a lot of production outside of Toppin and Tshiebwe on Tuesday. The duo combined for a total of 32 points and 22 rebounds, whereas the other three combined 4 points and 4 rebounds.

With that said, minutes played do need to be considered. Toppin and Tshiebwe played over 30 minutes each, with Onyenso playing just 1 minute. However, Collins and Ware, who are returnees, played 15 minutes or more and had two of the worst +/- on the team with -13 and -12.

While Toppin and Tshiebwe will most likely play around 30 minutes per game, if not more, they will provide the bulk of production. However, if there is an injury or foul trouble – as was the case against Michigan State – the frontcourt depth needs to step up,

In a game where a large lead should give them the opportunity for plenty of minutes – and in Onyenso’s case help him develop as a freshman – they need to take advantage.



Following the Michigan State game, there were plenty of complaints about lineups, and for good reason.

Most of the lineups limited the offense and made it look similar to last season when it was stagnant and difficult to score. When the full team has not practiced together for six weeks, that is understandable to an extent.

Offensively, the best lineup is clearly Wheeler-Wallace-Fredrick-Reeves-Tshiebwe. That is because: Tshiebwe will get his just off rebounds alone; Wheeler is the best distributor; Wallace can get to the rim; Fredrick and Reeves are elite shooters. Defensively, this team can nearly plug and play anyone.

With that said, Toppin, Livingston, and Collins will play consistent minutes, and each impact the game in their own way, but can limit the offense and its spacing at times.


John Calipari needs to find lineups that allow players to play to their strengths and the team’s strength as a whole. There is not a better opportunity to experiment with lineups than Thursday night’s game.

Kentucky Wildcats Basketball vs. South Carolina State Bulldogs

Time/Date: 7 pm ET, November 17th
Location: Rupp Arena, Lexington, KY
TV Channel: SEC Network
Online Stream: WatchESPNESPN+, SEC Network+, or the ESPN app.
Radio: Tom Leach and Jack Givens will have the UK radio network call on WLAP-AM 630, WBUL-FM 98.1, and the UK Sports Network.
Replay: WatchESPN and SEC Network (check local listings).
Rosters: UK | SCSU
Stats To Know: UK | SCSU
Team SheetsUK | SCSU
Live Stats

Odds: The official line and over/under has yet to be released. ESPN’s matchup predictor gives the Wildcats a 98.8% chance of winning, and Bart Torvik has it at 99%.

PredictionsBart Torvik went with a 91-61 margin for the Cats to win in a landslide.


Also published on A Sea of Blue.

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Men's Basketball

WKU Coach Rick Stansbury Says Dontaie Allen Was Ineligible to Play at Kentucky Last Season, UK Received Fine



Instagram/Dontaie Allen

Former Kentucky Wildcat, Dontaie Allen, had a rocky time in Lexington to say it best, averaging just 4 .2 points in 10.6 minutes per game. This led him to look for a change of scenery, and he ultimately transferred to Western Kentucky.

Through three games, Allen is averaging 8 points per game on 44 percent shooting from three, yet he hasn’t played since November 12th and has missed four straight games. Why?

On November 21st, Western Kentucky’s official Twitter account released a statement that explained that Allen was not available due to “an eligibility matter related to his previous school [Kentucky].”


While that left plenty of questions to be asked, WKU head coach Rick Stansbury addressed them on Saturday after the Hilltoppers beat South Carolina State.

Stansbury claims that Kentucky unknowingly allowed Dontaie Allen, who he says was also unaware, to play while ineligible during last season’s fall semester. While no specifics were given, Stansbury says the eligibility concerns arise from grade issues that were not found until Allen entered his name into the transfer portal.

As a result, Kentucky was fined $500 for each game Allen appeared in during the fall semester (seven games; $3,500 total fine), despite playing limited minutes. However, a decision has yet to be reached on Allen’s current eligibility status.

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Men's Basketball

Kentucky Basketball Introduces Most Impactful Player Belt, Oscar Tshiebwe First Winner



Twitter/UK Sports Network

On Thanksgiving Eve the Kentucky Wildcats got back to their winning ways as they beat the North Florida Ospreys 96-56 in impressive fashion.

Of course in the process, Oscar Tshiebwe, got his usual double-double with 16 points and 15 rebounds. After the game, Tshiebwe was seen sporting some new hardware called the “Most Impactful Player (MIP) Belt”.

In his postgame press conference, John Calipari talked about the new award that will be given out following each win this season. “Now we have a belt that we give out after wins, the most impactful player. Who impacted the game. The staff gets it and it’s a big shiny belt. Maybe they will show you,” Calipari said.


Despite twenty-point games from Jacob Toppin (also recorded a double-double) and Antonio Reeves, Calipari attributed Thsiebwe with doing the extra things.

“He[Tshiebwe] was the most impactful, not because of points and rebounds, because he had five assists, he had three steals, and two blocks. That’s impacting the game. He’ll have the belt until the next win. You don’t get, no belts on a loss. But maybe if he didn’t take it already, because he wore it. He was wearing it around the locker room.”

It will be interesting to see which players win this award over the course of the season, but as valuable as Tshiebwe is, it is safe to assume he will have the belt a lot.

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Men's Basketball

Examining Which Lineups Worked Against Gonzaga, Shot Selection Comparison



UK Athletics

The Kentucky Wildcats have looked dominant against inferior competition. In three games against sub-100 KenPom teams, the Wildcats have averaged 92.7 points on 52.9 percent shooting from the field and 47.8 percent from three, while only giving up 59.3 points per game.

However, against their two ranked opponents, Kentucky has looked vastly different on both ends of the floor. In those games, the Wildcats have averaged 74.5 points per contest on 39.6 percent shooting from the field and 26 percent from three, while giving up 82.5 points per game.

Struggling to find their early season footing, John Calipari is still experimenting with lineups and has cited injuries and a lack of practice time as reasons for this.


With that being said, let’s take a look at what lineups did and did not work against Gonzaga, as well as the shot selection.

Offensive Lineups

Following the Gonzaga game, there was one fan that compared the Kentucky offense to a “chicken running around with its head cut off”. At times it certainly looked like that.

Just take a look at the first offensive possession of the game. After getting the tip, the Wildcats forced a busted play and shot a contested three at the end of the shot clock.

This obviously is not the offense that Calipari wants. After the game, Calipari said that this specific play was one they had gone over in the huddle just seconds before tipoff and that he was “embarrassed” at the lack of execution.


So which lineups executed the best?

  • Wheeler-Wallace-Fredrick-Toppin-Tshiebwe: 20 possessions played, 31.6% FG, 14.3% 3P, .7 points per possession, Zero TOs,
  • Wallace-Fredrick-Reeves-Toppin-Tshiebwe: 20 possessions played, 56.3% FG, 60% 3P, 1.05 points per possession, 4 TOs,
  • Wallace-Fredrick-Reeves-Toppin-Ware: 12 possessions played, 18.2% FG, 0% 3P, .5 points per possession, TOs, Zero TOs
  • Reeves-Fredrick-Livingston-Toppin-Tshiebwe: 8 possessions played, 25% FG, 0% 3P, .5 points per possession, 2 TOs,

Unsurprisingly, the best lineup in terms of production featured Wallace-Fredrick-Reeves-Toppin-Tshiebwe, five players that are a threat to score in a variety of ways. This lineup was the only Kentucky lineup that average more than 1 point per possession.

The other most played lineup was similar but included Wheeler instead of Reeves. This isn’t to say that this lineup did not do good things, as there were no turnovers and the second-most points per possession. However, Gonzaga was able to sag off Wheeler, and could put more effort into guarding Fredrick and Tshiebwe in that lineup.

Proving himself as one of the best ball distributors in the country in back-to-back seasons, Wheeler deserves to play, but Calipari needs to scheme around his weaknesses, which he suggested he is doing on Monday’s call-in show.

Defensive Lineups

With the size and length of this roster, this year’s Kentucky Wildcats has the chance to be one of the best defensive teams of the Calipari era. However, they are from that at the moment.


Against Gonzaga, Kentucky rarely forced the Bulldogs into difficult shots. In fact, of their 88 points, they scored 44 of them in the paint.

With that said, Kentucky did have some lineups that were effective, but at the cost of offense. With the two aforementioned lineups above, Gonzaga forced the ball over, but still averaged more than 1 point per possession and shot well over 50 percent from the field.

  • Wallace-Fredrick-Reeves-Toppin-Tshiebwe: 20 possessions played, 58.3% FG, 1.2 points per possession, 4 forced TOs
  • Wheeler-Wallace-Fredrick-Toppin-Tshiebwe: 18 possessions played, 70% FG, 1.056 points per possession, 7 forced TOs
  • Wallace-Fredrick-Reeves-Toppin-Ware: 12 possessions played, 37.5% FG, .667 points per possession, 8 forced TOs
  • Reeves-Fredrick-Livingston-Toppin-Tshiebwe: 6 possessions played, 25% FG, .667 points per possession, 4 forced TOs

The two lineups that were effective included Ware and Livingston, and the one common denominator they bring is toughness.

Ware can be played in spurts, but has shown that he exceeds primarily on offense in pick-and-roll situations. Whereas Livingston is just a freshman and still has room to grow his offensive game, but hasn’t gotten the game time to do so.

Also, as the season goes along and he develops, don’t be surprised to see Ugonna Onyenso in some situations due to his elite shot-blocking ability.


Shot Selection

The shot chart on the left is against South Carolina State, just days before the matchup with Gonzaga, which shot chart is on the right.

What is the difference?

On the left, is the ideal modern offensive shot chart, showing strictly threes and shots inside the paint. In that game, Kentucky scored 80 of their 106 points in the paint or from three, showing that they played efficiently.

Whereas, on the right, shots are scattered across the county including plenty of mid-range shots. This shows just how much duress the offense was in.

Obviously, there is a different level of defense that the Wildcats are playing in each of the shot charts. With that said, ineffective lineups and lack of execution amplify the problems.


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