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Grand Canyon Antelopes at Kentucky Wildcats: Game Preview

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The college basketball season starts tonight, and Kentucky's first opponent is Grand Canyon University from Phoenix, Arizona.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to our first preview of the official college basketball season. Because it’s the very first game of the season, this particular preview will be somewhat limited in scope, as we have no meaningful statistics to analyze. The game tonight is the Kentucky Wildcats versus the Grand Canyon Antelopes from the WAC.

Tonight’s game is the first of a new tournament named the Cawood Ledford Classic, a newly-named event in honor of the famous former Kentucky Wildcats broadcaster. The tournament will include tonights game against Grand Canyon University, Sunday’s game against Buffalo, and games played between Noverber 23rd and November 30th with Montana State, UT Arlington, and Providence. There is a break between November 18-21st where Kentucky will compete in the Champions Classic against Kansas and Boston University.

General

About Grand Canyon University:

  • Location: Phoenix, AZ
  • Founded: 1949
  • Enrollment: 11,000
  • Nickname: Antelopes
  • Colors: Purple/Black/white
  • Head coach: Dan Majerle (since 2013, former Phoenix Sun)
  • Conference: Western Athletic Conference (WAC)

Grand Canyon is a newly-minted Division I school, transitioning first from NAIA in the early 1990’s, then to Division II, where it competed until last season.

Season so far for Grand Canyon

The ‘Lopes have won their only exhibition game against Western New Mexico, an NCAA Division II school, 74-47.

Series history for Grand Canyon with Kentucky

This will be the first ever game between the Antelopes and the Wildcats.

Stats

Team Comparison

Stat GCU UK
Exhibition record: 1-0 2-0
Record last season: 15-15 29-11
Kenpom rank 2014: 241 11
Kenpom pre-season: 305 2
Bookmaker Spread Last Updated
bodog.com -30.5 Nov 14 10:30 AM ET
betus.com -29.5 Nov 14 10:30 AM ET
5dimes.com -30.0 Nov 14 10:30 AM ET
donbest.com -29.5 Nov 14 10:30 AM ET
lvsc.com -30.0 Nov 13 01:22 PM ET
Courtesy of Statsheet.com

Four Factors

Not available

TEAM Roster

# Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Yr. Hometown High School Previous School
0 DeWayne Russell G 5-11 155 Jr. Peoria, AZ Peoria Northern Arizona
1 Isaiah Juarez G 6-3 180 Fr. Irvine, CA Mater Dei
2 Joshua Braun G 6-4 195 Rf. Anthem, AZ Westwind Prep Academy
3 Sam Daly G 6-3 175 So. Adelaide, Australia Unley
4 Ryan Majerle G 6-3 190 R-Jr. Rockford, MI Rockford Grand Valley State/Toledo
5 Matt Jackson F 6-8 210 Fr. Melbourne, Australia Diamond Valley
11 De’Andre Davis G 6-1 180 Fr. Austin, TX Cedar Ridge
12 Daniel Alexander F 6-9 230 Sr. Austin, TX Dripping Springs Texas A&M
13 Kerwin Smith F 6-9 200 Fr. Dallas, TX Woodrow Wilson
15 Boubacar Toure C 6-11 215 Fr. Dakar, Senegal Phase One Academy
21 Jerome Garrison G 6-3 200 Sr. Phoenix, AZ Mountain Pointe
22 Royce Woolridge G 6-3 180 Sr. Phoenix, AZ Sunnyslope Washington State
23 Jevon Estelle F 6-3 210 Jr. Winslow, AZ Winslow
24 Adrian Carrion Armas G 5-11 168 Fr. Seville, Spain Canarias Basketball Academy
25 Miroslav Jaksic F 6-11 220 Rf. Windsor, ONT Canada Walled Lake Western
42 Gerard Martin G 6-6 195 Fr. Manly, Australia Australian Institute of Sport
50 Tobe Okafor C 6-11 230 Jr. Lagos, Nigeria Maine Central Western Texas College

Player notes

  • Leading returning scorer is senior Jerome Garrison at 16.5 PPG. Garrison is a 40% 3-point shooter and a workhorse, 2nd in the NCAA in minutes played last season.
  • Alexander Daniel, a senior forward, also returns averaging 12.7 PPG/5.6 RPG. He is a 41% 3-point shooter and puts up a good number. Daniel and Garrison were both very efficient last season. He played for Texas A&M prior to 2013.
  • Sam Daly returns as a sophomore point guard, averaging 7.1 points and 4.2 assists per game.
  • Matt Jackson, a freshman from Melbourne, Australia, seems to be a new starter at forward.
  • Tobe Okafor, a 6‘11" junior transfer from Western Texas Community College is the starting center.
  • Ryan Majerle, a transfer from Toledo (and son of coach Dan Majerle) will be early off the bench.

Injuries

None for either team.

Game analysis

Grand Canyon is much bigger and more talented than either of the teams that Kentucky played in exhibition, but are probably much less talented than any of the teams Kentucky competed against in the Big Blue Bahamas. This game should be, as you’d expect from a game this early and a team like UK, a mismatch in terms of size, talent, and athleticism.

One thing Kentucky has to watch for is 3-point shooting. The ‘Lopes can shoot the ball, and they will no doubt try to do so with regularity. They gave Tulsa, a pretty good team last season, a hard way to go in their place, losing by only 1 point. Grand Canyon looks better to me this season than last with a couple of quality returners and some additional size, but it is doubtful they will be able to hang with the Wildcats for more than a half at most.