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Kentucky Wildcats vs. Belmont Bruins: Game Notes

The Kentucky Wildcats look to right the ship against the Belmont Bruins, as the two schools meet for the first time on the hardwood.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

The Belmont Bruins (8-4) make the short trek north from Nashville to Rupp Arena for a high noon showdown with the No. 19/21 Kentucky Wildcats (8-3). Here are your Game Notes:

Belmont Bruins

  • Today's contest marks the first meeting between UK and Belmont.
  • UK head coach John Calipari's Memphis squad took on Belmont in December of 2003, defeating the Bruins 89-83.
  • Although Belmont sports an 8-4 record for the year, the Bruins have lost two straight -- and three of the last four -- at South Dakota State, 85-72, and at Denver, 90-60, where Belmont's 11 first half turnovers led to 23 Pioneer points.
  • All six of the Bruins' December opponents played in either the 2013 NCAA Tournament or NIT -- VCU, Middle Tennessee, South Dakota State, Indiana State, Denver, and UK.
  • Belmont head coach Rick Byrd is in his 28th year at the school, leading the Bruins from their transition from NAIA to NCAA DI basketball in the 1997 season. Byrd has accumulated 579 wins at Belmont, and 671 wins in his 33 year coaching career -- Byrd is four wins away from tying Hall of Fame head coach Denny Crum in career victories.
  • Byrd's first coaching gig was as a graduate assistant at Tennessee in 1977, Ray Mears' last year as head coach of the Vols.
  • Since the 2006 season, Belmont has recorded a 198-79 record (.715 winning percentage). The Bruins have participated in a postseason tourney in eight of the last 10 years, including six NCAA Tournaments.
  • Belmont has won their league's automatic NCAA tourney bid in six of the last eight years, joining Memphis and Kansas as the only schools to accomplish that feat.
  • Since 2003, Belmont owns victories over Alabama, then-No. 3 Missouri (in 2003), Cincinnati, and of course only a few weeks ago the Bruins shocked the college basketball world by besting then No. 11 North Carolina in Chapel Hill, 83-80. In that game, Belmont connected on 15-37 shots from long-range (40.5 percent).
  • Belmont is 2-17 against current members of the SEC. The Bruins last played an SEC in 2010, falling to Tennessee, 66-65.
  • In the 2008 Big Dance, the Bruins, playing as a No. 16 seed, nearly pulled off the biggest upset in NCAA tourney history before falling 71-70 to the No. 1 Duke Blue Devils.
  • After 11 seasons in the Atlantic Sun, Belmont joined the OVC in 2012.
  • Bruins sophomore Taylor Barnette played his high school basketball at Lexington Christian. He transferred to Belmont after one year at Virginia.
  • The Bruins, who boast four players averaging double-figures, are led in scoring by 6-6 senior swing J.J. Mann at 17.7 points per game. A scorer more than a shooter, Mann is shooting 32.9 percent from beyond the arc (26-76). Mann is tied for the team lead in rebounds, averaging 4.8 boards per game. Mann has taken 73 more shots than any other Bruin.
  • Craig Bradshaw, a 6-3 sophomore guard is second on the team in scoring, putting up 12.5 points per game. An outstanding shooter, repeat, outstanding shooter, Bradshaw is making 53.8 percent of his shots from the floor (50-93), and 47.5 percent of his 3-point tries (19-40).
  • A player Wildcat fans may remember is Drew Windler, who transferred to Belmont from Samford, where he played against the 2012 UK squad, scoring 11 points.
  • Windler, a 6-9 senior stretch four, has nailed 56.0 percent of his shots from distance (28-50), and averages 4.5 rebounds per contest.
  • Belmont's best defender is 6-8 senior forward Blake Jenkins. Versatile and skilled enough to guard all five spots, Jenkins will likely draw the assignment of stopping UK's Julius Randle. Jenkins is tied with Mann as the team's top board man, averaging 4.8 rebounds per contest.
  • Jenkins is the son of former Tennessee Vol standout Fred Jenkins, who graduated from UT in 1987.
  • Junior guard Reece Chamberlain -- 10.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game -- is questionable to play in this afternoon's contest after suffering a stress fracture in his right foot.
  • As a team, the Bruins are connecting on 38.3 percent of their 3-point attempts (105-274), which ranks Belmont 56th in the nation in 3-point accuracy.
  • Belmont's 105 made 3s ranks eighth in the country.
  • The Bruins' 49.2 percent field goal accuracy ranks 28th best in college basketball (328-666).
  • Belmont is being out-rebounded by an average of four boards per game, and its offensive rebound percentage of 29.6 ranks 254th in the country. The Bruins' 68.7 percent defensive rebound percentage ranks 184th in the land.

Kentucky Wildcats

  • UK is 35-0 versus teams currently comprising the OVC.
  • When playing on the ESPN family of networks, UK is 2-3 this season.
  • Kentucky is 14-2 when playing as the AP No. 19 team in the country.
  • The Wildcats are 0-3 when shooting a lower percentage than its opponent, 0-3 when scoring the same or fewer points in the lane.
  • UK is 6-0 when its bench outscores the opponent's bench.
  • The 'Cats are 0-1 in Saturday tilts this season.
  • Kentucky is 8-0 when scoring more points in the paint than its opponent.
  • The Wildcats rank 49th in the nation in scoring offense, putting up 80.5 points per game. UK ranks 53rd in scoring defense, giving up 65.1 points per contest.
  • Kentucky's 47.5 percent field goal accuracy ranks 66th in the country, while its defense is holding opponents to 37.2 percent shooting, good for 12th in the nation.
  • UK is allowing the opposition to shoot 31.1 percent from beyond the arc, 92nd best in college basketball.
  • Kentucky's 7.7 blocks per game is the nation's fourth best blocked shot average.
  • The Wildcats minus-2.7 turnover margin is 306th in the land, and their assist/turnover ratio of .9 is 230th in the nation.
  • Julius Randle's 17.2 points per game scoring average ranks eighth in the SEC, with his 11.4 rebounds per game leading the league, as well as ranking fourth in the country.
  • Randle's 52.2 percent field goal shooting is sixth in the SEC.
  • James Young has recorded 26 made 3-pointers through 11 games this year. That ties him with Kyle Wiltjer (2013 season) and Doron Lamb (2011) for the most in the Calipari-era through 11 contests.
  • Over the last four games, Young has connected on 13-of-28 from distance (46.4 percent), and has made at least two 3-pointers in seven of 11 games.
  • Young is heating up at the free throw line as well, having made 11-of-14 from the stripe over the last two games (78.6 percent), after making only 22-of-35 charity tosses through UK's first nine contests (62.9 percent).
  • Through the last six games, sophomore center Willie Cauley-Stein has swatted 33 shots (6.6 per game), and has 48 blocks on the season (4.4 per game). For those keeping track -- Anthony Davis had 49 blocks through UK's first 11 games in the 2011-2012 season.
  • WCS has 108 blocks in his one-plus year at UK, ranking his 18th in UK history for career blocks. He is two blocks shy of passing Walter McCarty for 17th place on the Kentucky blocked shot list.
  • UK point guard Andrew Harrison's numbers are stacking up nicely with former UK/Cal point guards: Harrison is averaging 10.9 points pg, 2.4 rebounds pg, 3.8 assists pg: Marquis Teague -- 11.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 4.6 apg: Brandon Knight -- 17.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3.5 apg: John Wall -- 17.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 7.0 apg.
  • Kentucky's Randle has snagged only 32 rebounds in the last four games (8.0 per game), after averaging 13.3 boards through the first seven games of the season.
  • Aaron Harrison has made 17-of-20 free throws over the last five contests (85.0 percent), and has connected on 25-of-42 shots over the last four games (59.2 percent).
  • Kentucky's eleven opponents this season have a combined record of 62-43 (.590 winning percentage).
  • All-time in the month of December, UK has won 489 games and lost 120 (.803 winning percentage). Under Calipari, the 'Cats have posted a 26-6 mark in the final month of the year (.813 winning percentage).

Thanks for reading and Go 'Cats!