The Cats look to rebound from their first loss when Valparaiso comes to Rupp Arena on Wednesday.
Despite a combined 44 points and six steals from star freshmen De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk, UK was upset by No. 2 UCLA Saturday, 97-92. The focus now turns to another quality non-conference foe in the Crusaders, who come into this game at 7-1 and on the verge of a top-25 ranking.
They’re actually coming off a 65-62 win over then-No. 21 Rhode Island last week. Valpo also has neutral-court wins over BYU and Alabama. Their lone loss was to then-No. 4 Oregon.
Though the Crusaders play in the Horizon League, they feature one of college basketball’s best players in Alec Peters. Last season, Peters averaged 18.4 points and 8.5 rebounds per game and made 44 percent of his 3-pointers as Valpo won a school-record 30 games and advanced to the NIT final.
The 6-9 forward joined Kevin Durant as the only college players in the last two decades to average at least 18 points and eight rebounds while making 80 or more three-point shots.
This season, Peters is averaging 25.4 points and 9.1 rebounds. He had big games vs Bama (24 points & 10 boards) and BYU (26 points & 12 boards) before his scoring 27 points vs Rhode Island.
Needless to say, stopping Peters will be the biggest key to UK beating the Crusaders and getting back in the win column. Here is everything you’ll need for this Wednesday night affair.
When: Dec. 7 at 8 p.m. EST
Location: Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky.
TV: SEC Network
Channel: 611 on DirecTV; 404 on Dish Network
Live Online Stream: Watch ESPN
Radio: UK Radio Network with Tom Leach and Mike Pratt
Live stats: UK Athletics
Odds: Kentucky opened as a 19-point favorite.
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: UK should have no trouble getting motivated for this game after Saturday;s showing. The Cats look to get that bad taste out of their mouth and put the clamps down defensively on Peters, forcing the other Crusaders to beat them.
Valpo does enough to remain within striking distance at half time, but UK’s depth and talent advantage leads to this being a comfortable win.
Kentucky 87, Valparaiso 69