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Men's Basketball

TV Info and Things to Know: Kentucky vs North Florida



UK Athletics

Following an embarrassing showing against Gonzaga, the Kentucky Wildcats will look to get back in the win column on Thanksgiving eve, playing the North Florida Ospreys.

This will be the second time the two teams have matched up, with the inaugural game being played last season with Kentucky winning 86-52. This season, the final score should look similar, with the Osprey’s being a sub-200 KenPom team for the second straight season.

Interestingly enough, the Ospreys and the Wildcats have three common opponents. Here is how the two teams have compared against those teams.

  • Duquense: UK won by 25, UNF lost by 1
  • Gonzaga: UK lost by 16, UNF lost by 41
  • South Carolina State: UK won by 43, UNF won by 6

North Florida’s star player is Carter Hendricksen, who is originally a Kentucky native from Mount Sterling. Prior to the season, Hendricksen received his third preseason All-ASUN First Team selection, and he is living up to that, averaging 14,7 points and 8 rebounds per game.

With the basics out of the way, let’s take a closer look at Wednesday’s matchup.

Could this be a Damion Collins breakout game?

Coming into college as a freshman, Collins stood 6-foot-9 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan but just 200 pounds. Returning with the same physically gifted length, Collins has added some extra weight and added to his skill set.

This paid off leading up to the season, with John Calipari saying that Collins was the best player in the team’s practices on his first call-in show of the season. However, Damion’s father Ben passed away just before the start of the regular season.

Calipari said it’s about helping Collins through the tragedy and getting him back to that level of confidence.


What better way to do that than to face a familiar foe?

Last season, Collins had one of the best performances of his college career against the Ospreys, recording his second-highest career totals in points (12) and rebounds (6).

Offensive Structure

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

Look at this example, where poor execution and improvisation leads to a forced a 15-foot turnaround by Oscar Tshiebwe.


This is clearly not the offense that John Calipari wants, but he is the man in charge and has the task of fixing it.

Thus far, the Kentucky offense has been a tale of two sides.

Against inferior opponents, Kentucky’s offense has looked extremely dynamic, averaging 92.7 points on 52.9 percent shooting from the field and 47.8 percent from three.

However, against their two ranked opponents, the Kentucky offense has looked vastly different, averaging 74.5 points per contest on 39.6 percent shooting from the field and 26 percent from three.


One of the biggest reasons for this has been the lack of production from Fredrick-Reeves-Livingston in these big-time games. It’s important to play to their strengths and get them comfortable within the offense.

Last season, Kentucky lost early season matchups to Duke and Notre Dame and was seen as a title favorite in late January before injuries. I would argue that Michigan State and Gonzaga are better-quality losses, so hope is not lost for the Wildcats.

Yet, lineup and offense issues need to be examined and fixed in the coming weeks before competition starts to ramp back up.

More Effort

Kentucky came out of the gate unprepared. Pair this with a 5-5 start from the field from Gonzaga – including two three-pointers – vs a 1-7 start from the Wildcats, and the wind was taken out of their sails.


With that being said, that does not excuse a lack of effort. Which was made most evident by their 24-14 rebound disadvantage to Gonzaga in the first half.

Senior Jacob Toppin was the first to admit it. “We had no fight in the first half and we put ourselves in a hole that we couldn’t get out of,” Toppin said in the postgame press conference.

While North Florida shouldn’t pose a threat to win, the Wildcats need to respond to Sunday’s performance with fight. This needs to be shown on the boards and on the defensive end.

Kentucky Basketball vs. North Florida Ospreys

Time/Date: 3:00 ET November 23rd
Location: Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky
TV Channel: Only on streaming (SEC Network+)
Announcers: No announcers scheduled based on the ESPN Press schedule.
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 | UNF
Stats To Know: UK | UNF
Team SheetsUK | UNF
Live Stats


Odds: The betting line has yet to be released. ESPN’s matchup predictor gives the Wildcats a 96.1% chance of winning, and Bart Torvik has it at 97%.

PredictionsBart Torvik has Kentucky winning in a blowout, with a final score of 86-64


Men's Basketball

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



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.


“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.


“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.


“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



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.”


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?”


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



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

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.


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.


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

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