Tonight, the Kentucky Wildcats try to avenge their loss in last season's NIT first round to the Robert Morris Colonials. The game against the Colonials is part of the Keightley Classic named in honor of long-time former Wildcats trainer Bill Keightley. It is a tournament that begins with this game and ends on November 27th with the game against the Eastern Michigan Eagles.
The Keightley Classic is a new early-season event featuring four teams ranked between 142 and 226 in Ken Pomeroy'srankings. Robert Morris is one of the better teams in this group if we go according to the ratings. Cleveland St. is the best, and UT Arlington the worst.
History with Robert Morris
Kentucky has played Robert Morris 2 times previous to this one. In 1993, #5 Kentucky defeated the colonials in Rupp Arena 92-67. Unranked Kentucky dropped the first-round NIT game to Robert Morris last season in Moon Township, Pennsylvania.
Robert Morris Roster
|#||FULL NAME||Status||POS.||HT.||WT.||YEAR||HOMETOWN||PREVIOUS SCHOOL|
|1||Mike McFadden||S**||F||6-8||220||Sr.||Newark, N.J.||Iona|
|5||Anthony Myers-Pate||S*||G||6-0||190||Sr.||Washington, D.C.||Charis Prep|
|15||Karvel Anderson||S*||G||6-2||190||Sr.||Elkhart, Ind.||Glen Oaks Community College|
|22||Lucky Jones||S**||G/F||6-6||210||Jr.||Newark, N.J.|
|24||Aaron Tate||S||F||6-5||220||So.||New Bern, N.C.||Dodge City Community College|
|4||David Appolon||MR*||G||6-4||190||Jr.||Philadelphia, Pa.|
|10||Desjuan Newton||MR||G||6-2||185||Jr.||Seattle, Wash.||Central Arizona College|
|11||Jeremiah Worthem||MR||F||6-6||215||Fr.||Philadelphia, Pa.|
|45||Stephan Hawkins||MR*||F||6-9||205||So.||Gary, Ind.|
|12||Charles Oliver||R||G||6-3||190||Jr.||Scotch Plains, N.J.||Lakeland Community College|
|33||Evan Grey||R||G||6-3||180||So.||Columbia, Md.|
|2||Britton Lee||RS?||G||5-11||180||Fr.||Philadelphia, Pa.|
|3||Kavon Stewart||RS?||G||6-0||180||Fr.||Paterson, N.J.|
Players of note
Karvel Anderson is the leading returning scorer from last season, even though he is coming from off the bench, for the most part. Anderson is a lethal 3-point shooter at .44%, and is the leading long-range sniper for the Colonials.
Lucky Jones was impactful against the Wildcats last season in the fateful NIT game. He was the leading RMU scorer with 15 points, and got ejected late in the game after a flagrant-2 foul on Archie Goodwin. He was the second leading scorer last season with 11.9 ppg, and is also a deadly 3-point shooter at 43%. He also is the leading rebounder for the team.
Anthony Myers-Pate is taking over the point guard spot vacated by Velton Jones last season. Jones had the 4th best assist rate in college basketball last season, so Meyers-Pate has big shoes to fill.
Mike McFadden vs. Willie Cauley-Stein — McFadden has good size at 6'8" and 220#, and he is a senior who should lead the team in rebounding this season. McFadden had 9 boards in RMU's recent exhibition victory over Savannah St.
As in the NIT game, Kentucky will have a big advantage on the boards, even more so than in that previous affair. WCS is more skilled, taller, and more agile than his opponent, but McFadden is a tough player who knows all the tricks.
Anthony Meyers-Pate vs. Andrew Harrison — Meyers-Pate will have a quickness advantage on Harrison, but Harrison is much taller and stronger, as well as being an extremely skilled player. Harrison will have to watch his handle against Meyers-Pate, but he should be able to get to the rim or shoot over him at will.
Karvel Anderson vs. Aaron Harrison — Anderson is a skilled and deadly shooter who will totally test Aaron Harrison tonight. Anderson can shoot the ball from anywhere, and has almost a 50% chance of making it past the 3-point line. Harrison cannot leave him to help, ever, or he will make Harrison pay. Defensively, Anderson will have trouble guarding the bigger Harrison, so this on comes out about even.
Lucky Jones vs. James Young — This is the matchup of the game, and it will be a huge factor in determining how competitive RMU can be against the taller, more talented but less experienced Wildcats. Both these guys are slashers who can shoot from the outside. Young is more talented, but Jones more experienced and almost as big. At this point in the season, I like Jones in this matchup.
Aaron Tate vs. Julius Randle — This is one of those mismatches we won't see much after November. Randle has everything on this kid — he's bigger, heavier, faster, stronger, and more skilled. This is a grotesque mismatch one-on-one, which we won't see much of tonight.
RMU has a fairly deep, experienced bench and they play a lot of players. Charles Oliver is a competent scorer off the bench for the Colonials, and David Appolon provides rebounding and defense.
But compared to the depth and skill of the Wildcats bench, Robert Morris simply doesn't have the horses to make even a dent.
Kentucky is bigger, faster, and more talented at most positions, but they will get a challenge from Robert Morris. RMU can really shoot the basketball, and any team that can do that will give larger, less experienced teams like Kentucky trouble at times in any game, and it is likely to be no different tonight. Expect RMU to give Kentucky a game in the first half, be down between 8-15 points at half, and gradually fade to about a 23 point loss. At least, that's the high (95%) probability.
As we found out last season, Kentucky cannot take teams like this for granted. With that said, this year's Kentucky team is significantly more talented than last years, has several gifted scorers on the team, and in theory at least, has no weaknesses other than a lack of experience.