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Men's Basketball

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

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Kentucky and Tennessee will matchup in Rupp Arena.
Knecht: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports / Reeves: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

With the falloff of Louisville in recent years, the biggest rival for Kentucky basketball has undoubtedly been the Tennessee Volunteers, who will come to Lexington on Saturday for the latest installment in the series. While Kentucky dominates the series history, 160-77, the Volunteers have improved (at least in the regular season) under Rick Barnes. Over the last five seasons, the series has been split 6-6.

This season, both teams have been considered the class of the SEC, but each have shown their flaws. Kentucky cannot defend and has yet to play a game with a full roster. While Tennessee struggles to score outside of Dalton Knecht and has had trouble defending talented frontcourts.

With both teams looking to bounce back after a loss, expect another tense and competitive game inside Rupp Arena. Let’s take a look at the matchup.

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Force Others To Score

While Tennessee has been known for their defensive teams over the last few years, they have struggled to score, especially so this season. In fact, in their recent loss to South Carolina, eight of their nine players combined for 28 points. Which eludes to their saving grace, Dalton Knecht, who had 31 in that game.

Knecht is the top scorer in the SEC and has led the Vols in scoring in 15 of their 22 games this season, including six straight. Playing against some of the best defenses in the country this season, he has still found success.

While Knecht is going to get his, Kentucky needs to make it difficult on him, but even more importantly, eliminate their other options. It’s difficult for one player to win a game.

Win The Rebounding Battle

Looking closer at Tennessee’s five losses, they have lost the rebounding battle in four of them. The Volunteers are the third-best rebounding team in the SEC and generate a lot of points from second-chance opportunities.

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Tennessee will certainly be the most physical team that Kentucky has faced thus far, and potentially all season. Physicality has been an aspect that the staff has really been keying on in practice, this game will provide ample sample size to see what progress has been made.

This looks to be a game where Ugonna Onyenso and Adou Thiero will be important for their physicality and rebounding, but the team as a whole must look to win the rebounding battle and play through contact.

Make A Statement

After gifting Florida a win on Wednesday and looking lackluster over the last three games overall, Kentucky has an opportunity to make a statement against Tennessee. Playing a top-five opponent in a primetime game on ESPN, there is no better stage.

Coming off a loss, both teams will be motivated, but only one will come out with the win. If you ask Ugonna Onyenso, he’s confident that will be Kentucky. “We’ve never lost two times in a row this season. We’ve never done that. I don’t think Saturday’s gonna be the first,” Onyenso said Wednesday after the loss to Florida. “We’re looking forward to that game. For sure.”

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If Kentucky can get the win it will certainly provide a needed confidence boost for the team and the fanbase as March gets closer and closer.

Opposing Players to Watch

G Dalton Knecht, 6-6, 204 lbs

  • 20.1 PPG (1st in SEC)
  • 4.6 RPG
  • 40% 3P (13th in SEC)

G Zakai Zeigler 5-9, 171 lbs

  • 9.8 PPG
  • 5.0 APG (1st in SEC)
  • 1.7 SPG (8th in SEC)

F Jonas Aidoo, 6-11, 241 lbs

  • 11.6 PPG
  • 7.4 RPG (6th in SEC)
  • 51.9% FG

Kentucky Wildcats Basketball vs. Tennessee Volunteers

  • Time: 8:30 PM EST on February 3rd
  • Location: Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center in Lexington, Kentucky.
  • TV Channel: ESPN
  • Announcers: Tom Hart and Jimmy Dykes will call the action for ESPN.
  • Online Stream: Stream the game online with WatchESPN and the ESPN app.
  • Radio: Tom Leach and Jack Givens have the UK Sports Radio Network call.
  • Replay: WatchESPN and SEC Network (check local listings).
  • Rosters: UK | UT
  • Stats to Know: UK | UT
  • KenPom: UK | UT
  • Team Sheet: UK | UT
  • Odds: ESPN’s matchup predictor has Kentucky as the underdog at home, giving them just a 41.6% chance at the win. Other projections follow suit EvanMiya having the lowest at 36.2%, Bart Torvik at 48%, while EvanMiya is at 69%.
  • PredictionsBart Torvik and Haslametrics are the kindest projections to Kentucky, expecting just a one-point and two-point loss, 80-79 and 80-78, respectively. EvanMiya went with an 80-76 win for the Vols.

Also published on A Sea of Blue.

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Men's Basketball

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

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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.

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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.

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Men's Basketball

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Men's Basketball

Recap and Takeaways From Kentucky’s Dominating Win Over Alabama

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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.

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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

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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.

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Box Score

Highlights

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