The Kentucky Wildcats have looked impressive in their 2-0 start against Stephen F. Austin and Canisius, but they will get their first real test on Tuesday night when they take on the 0-1 Michigan State Spartans.
The season really starts in New York in the annual Champions Classic, an event in which the ‘Cats have had great success. They are coming off of defeating the Duke Blue Devils in the event last season.
John Calipari has been telling us all that this game against Tom Izzo and his Spartans is going to be tough and that the ‘Cats are going to face an angry team, and he’s right. Sparty dropped their first game of the season against a top ten Arizona Wildcats team. It was a bit of a low scoring affair as MSU went down 65-63.
Freshman phenom Miles Bridges led scoring for both teams with 21 points. He is a guy that Cal really wanted but he opted to join Izzo. Michigan State, like Kentucky, is very young and very athletic. They also struggle to shoot it from three as they were 8-25 from behind the arch. They also didn’t go to the line often, hitting only 5-9 from the free throw stripe.
What to watch for:
- Will Kentucky improve on the defensive end? They allowed some easy buckets and back-door cuts to Canisius. That can’t make Cal happy.
- Will Malik Monk continue his tendency to start slow but heat up late? I’m hoping we can see him put it all together.
- Cal voiced his displeasure with the lack of defensive and offensive production from the four position. Wenyen Gabriel and Derek Willis both have received Cal’s ire. He mentioned a line-up with Bam Adebayo at the four and Isaac Humphries at the five. Michigan State has traditionally been a tough team on the boards and in the post. I won’t be surprised if we see this line up early.
- Will we get game one Bam or game two Bam? Adebayo was limited against Stephen F. Austin due to foul trouble but he was great against Canisius in that regard. Kentucky is really going to need his energy on the floor.
This is going to be a great test for Kentucky and I’m not sure how it is going to play out. I am really encouraged because of the way Isaiah Briscoe and De’Aaron Fox have been playing. They have been outstanding in their first two games and I think that will continue on Tuesday night. As long as we have them playing like that, I like our chances against any team in the country.
Kentucky Wildcats vs. Michigan State in New York
When: November 15th, 7:00 PM
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York City.
Online Stream: Watch ESPN
Odds: Kentucky opened as a 4-point favorite, per Vegas Insider.
Radio: UK Sports Network
Satellite radio: XM Channel 80, Sirius Channel 80
No. 0 De'Aaron Fox, Point Guard, Freshman
No. 1 Sacha Killeya-Jones, Forward, Freshman
No. 3 Edrice ‘Bam’ Adebayo, Forward Freshman
No. 5 Malik Monk, Shooting Guard, Freshman
No. 10 Jonny David, Guard, Sophomore
No. 11 Mychal Mulder, Guard, Senior
No. 13 Isaiah Briscoe, Guard, Sophomore
No. 14 Tai Wynyard Forward, Redshirt Freshman
No. 15 Isaac Humphries, Forward, Sophomore
No. 20 Brad Calipari, Guard, Freshman
No. 25 Dominique Hawkins, Guard, Senior
No. 30 Dillon Pulliam, Guard, Redshirt Sophomore
No. 32 Wenyen Gabriel, Forward, Freshman
No. 35 Derek Willis, Forward, Senior
Prediction: The biggest advantage UK has vs Michigan State is depth. The Spartans just don’t have enough firepower to last for 40 minutes again high-quality teams right now, but they do have Miles Bridges and a solid backcourt that does enough to make this close, but UK comes away with a 70-63 win.