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Men's Basketball

Kentucky vs. South Carolina: TV/Streaming Info, Things to Look For

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UK Athletics

After an embarrassing 26-point loss to Alabama on Saturday, Kentucky basketball is not in a good state. The fans are frustrated, the team is not a cohesive unit, and the coaching staff looked bewildered over what happened this past weekend.

Fortunately, the Wildcats will have a ‘pick-me-up’ opportunity at Rupp Arena against South Carolina on Tuesday. The Gamecocks are coming off an embarrassing loss of their own, losing 85-42 to Tennessee at home.

Led by new head coach Lamont Paris, South Carolina is arguably the worst team in the SEC, currently 7-8 overall and 0-2 in the conference. However, they are kept alive by Meechie Johnson and GG Jackson.

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Let’s take a closer look at the matchup.

Limit Offensive Boards

South Carolina ranks towards the bottom of the country in nearly every category. However, there is one area where they have found some success, offensive rebounding.

With an offensive rebounding percentage of 32.7 percent, the Gamecocks rank top 50 in the country. This attack is led primarily by GG Jackson, Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk, and Josh Gray, who individually rank toward the top of the SEC in offensive rebounding percentage.

Fortunately, Kentucky has Oscar Tshiebwe, which coincides with the Wildcats being one of the best rebounding teams in the country. Considering that Kentucky has only allowed two teams to get more than ten offensive rebounds – Michigan State and UCLA – South Carolina should not pose the same threat.

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GG Jackson

While South Carolina’s roster is not the most talented, they do have a special talent in GG Jackson. Originally committed to North Carolina as part of the 2023 recruiting class, Jackson made the decision to reclassify and commit to South Carolina, his mother’s alma mater.

Jackson is extremely athletic and can run the floor very well, and while he can play inside, he is not the typical ‘back-to-the-basket’ big. In fact, Jackson is shooting a respectable 32 percent from three and even shot 4 of 9 from deep in a December matchup against Eastern Michigan.

This will force the Kentucky defense to extend their defense, which may not be the best matchup for Oscar Tshiebwe, likely resulting in Jacob Toppin getting the defensive assignment.

The five-star freshman is currently averaging 15.7 points and 7.1 rebounds, both top-ten marks in the SEC. However, he is coming off a scoreless performance against Tennessee where Jackson was benched for his body language and effort.

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Win BIG

After the disheartening loss to Alabama, the fanbase and the team need a dominating win. On paper, this is the easiest game that Kentucky has remaining on the schedule.

As mentioned earlier, South Carolina is coming off losing 85-42 to Tennessee, which is also the first top-50 team the Gamecocks have played. While the Volunteers are playing at a much higher level than Kentucky right now, this is a Wildcat team that has thoroughly beaten bad teams.

Given that this game is at Rupp and the talent advantage, Kentucky should and needs to respond in a big way after being trounced by Alabama.

Kentucky Basketball vs. South Carolina Gamecocks

Time/Date: 7:00 pm ET on Tuesday, January 10th, 2023.
Location: Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky.
TV Channel: ESPN2
Announcers: Karl Ravech, Jimmy Dykes
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 | SC
Team SheetsUK | SC
Stats To Know: UK | SC

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Odds: The odds have yet to be released for this game. ESPN’s matchup predictor gives the Wildcats their best chance to win a game for the remainder of the season at 97.5 percent. Bart Torvik is just marginally less confident in the Cats at 95%.

PredictionsBart Torvik picks the Wildcats to win in blowout fashion 72-55.

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Men's Basketball

Lamont Butler Believes In Mark Pope And Will “Do Whatever It Takes To Put A Number Nine Up In Those Rafters”

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Lamont Butler transferred to Kentucky to prove that his more than just a defender.
Photo by Eddie Justice | UK Athletics

Lamont Butler has proven himself as one of the premier defenders in college basketball over the last four seasons at San Diego State, having earned MWC All-Defense honors in three straight seasons and winning the 2024 MWC Defensive Player of the Year Award.

With that level of defensive impact, Butler had no shortage of interest when he put his name in the transfer portal this Spring. In less than 48 hours after officially entering the portal, he had his decision, choosing Kentucky and becoming just the second commit of the Mark Pope era.

Butler’s parents, Lamont Butler Sr. and Carmicha Butler, recently spoke to KSR about how the family decided on Kentucky and what kind of player and young man the Wildcats are getting.

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“I can start off simply by saying that it’s Kentucky,” Lamont Sr. said. “Most kids in America, if they ever got the opportunity to play for a program like that, any kid would jump at it. With Lamont being in the position in life that he put himself in, it was the perfect move for him.”

While the brand of Kentucky Basketball is a big selling point, and one that Pope is emphasizing more than Calipari did, it was not the only selling point. The other big part was how Butler was going to be used at Kentucky, and Pope and his staff hopped on a plane to Las Vegas where he was working out, to do just that.

“We were at the gym working out, when, all of a sudden, we see the men in black coming in,” Lamont Sr. said. “I’m like, wow. It was the whole kit and caboodle. They were serious about Lamont.”

Before meeting with Butler and his family, Pope was already very familiar with his game having competed against him for three seasons at San Diego State in the MWC, and that certainly showed.

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“He practically broke Lamont’s game down,” Carmicha said. “He told him how he played, who he is, how he wanted to use him, his plans for him at Kentucky, and what he wanted to do with him. For me, it was amazing for Pope, who he never played for, to know that much detail about my son, on and off the court. That was a major plus, a major benefit.” 

Pope’s plan for Butler though is to show off his full game. While he is known as a defender, there is much more to his game, with his father highlighting his unselfishness and leadership.

“Lamont is the type of player who’s unselfish to a fault,” Lamont Sr. said. “I was telling someone, that Lamont scored 1,000 points but would’ve passed those 1,000 points up to make the right play. There are too many selfish players in the world. Everybody wants me, me, me, me, me. Lamont is about us, us, us. I told him that’s what’s going to take him far in life.” 

Those two characteristics are a big reason why Pope wants Butler on the ball, rather than off the ball which was the case most of the time he was at San Diego State.

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“It doesn’t matter to Lamont, but Pope is going to have him on the ball. That’s what a lot of people don’t know,” Lamont Sr. said. “That’s what it’s going to be, to lead the team and make sure he’s playing faster than he’s ever played.”

The primary thing though, Kentucky fans are getting a player who is willing to do whatever it takes to put another banner in the rafters.

“They’re getting somebody who’s going to give it his all on the court, injured or not,” Lamont Sr. said. “He’s going to be out there and do whatever it takes to put a number nine up in those rafters. That’s what Lamont is coming to do.”

Also published on A Sea of Blue.

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Men's Basketball

Trent Noah Says He Looks up to His Friend Reed Sheppard, On and Off the Court

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Noah: UK Athletics, Sheppard: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

The level of high school basketball talent in Kentucky is the best it has been in several years. Last year, Kentucky fans got to witness the emergence of Reed Sheppard, and they are hopeful more of “Kentucky’s own” can help the Wildcats on the court under Mark Pope. Two such players are coming in next season, Mr. Kentucky Basketball Travis Perry of Lyon County, and Trent Noah of Harlan County.

The latter was recently interviewed by a fellow Kentucky native and former Wildcat, Cameron Mills, and the UK Sports Network. In that interview Noah not only talked about his excitement to join his home-state program and preparation for this coming season, but he also talked about looking up his friend and former teammate Reed Sheppard.

“He’s (Sheppard) such a great player. One of the best I have ever been around,” Noah told Mills. That just doesn’t stop off the court either. “He is a really good person. A really good friend. Someone I look up to.”

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Noah is just one year younger than Sheppard, but both are from the 13th region and the two formed a friendship when they were teammates for two seasons in the Adidas 3SSB Circuit with Midwest Basketball Club. What does Noah look up to Sheppard most for?

“He’s such a great leader. He’s always leading by actions. He just knows how to play. He has that natural gift. He’s always in the right spot at the right time. He obviously shoots the cover off the ball.”

Noah notes that to take some of those attributes and apply them to his game wouldn’t do anything but help them.

Toward the end of the interview, Mills asked Noah a theoretical question: “In an NBA-style three-point contest, who’s winning, you or Reed?”

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We know that Sheppard just shot the third-best three-point percentage in Kentucky basketball history, but he shot just over 30 percent in high school. Whereas Noah shot 43% (102-237) from 3-point range as a senior. With that, Noah is taking himself. “He can shoot it, but I don’t know if I can say he would beat me.”

It’s pretty cool to see the connection that Kentucky’s own have with the program and share with each other. Check out the full interview below!

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BB Recruiting

2025 Five Star, Potential Reclass Candidate Will Riley Begins Kentucky Visit

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2025 five star prospect and reclass candidate, Will Riley, takes his official visit to Kentucky June 4th-6th.
IMAGN/USA Today

Will Riley, one of the top rising seniors in the class of 2025, is set to begin a two-day official visit to Kentucky on Tuesday. This was first reported by Kentucky Insider last week.

The 6-foot-8 small forward out of Malvern, PA, is currently down to five schools: Kentucky, Arkansas, Arizona, Illinois, and Alabama, and is leaving the possibility of playing professionally in the NBL in Australia. Riley is coming off a visit to Illinois and will visit Alabama later this week.

Already considered a consensus Top 25 prospect in the country according to 247 Sports, ESPN, and Rival, Riley’s stock is only continuing to rise. His calling card is his scoring ability and he has put that on display this Spring.

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Through the first four sessions of the Nike EYBL circuit, he is averaging 21.9 points per game, on fairly efficient numbers, shooting 49.6 % from the field,  31.7 % from three-point range, and 79 % from free throws. Riley also adds 4.7 rebounds per game and 2.5 assists per game in just under 30 minutes.

A possible reclass candidate, Riley is considering making the jump from the 2025 class to the 2024 class. That decision is yet to be determined, adding an element of suspense to his potential future in college basketball.

With one current scholarship remaining for the upcoming roster, Kentucky is open to Riley reclassing and joining this year’s roster, underlining the significance of his potential addition to the team.

However, Jaxson Robinson’s commitment makes it less likely that Kentucky would be the choice if he does reclass. If he decides to remain in the 2025 class, Kentucky would remain toward the top of his list.

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Does Riley become the first top 25 recruit in the Mark Pope era?

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