East Tennessee State Buccaneers (1-1) at Kentucky Wildcats (2-1)
Game time: Tip-off is set for 7 pm EST
Location: Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky
TV: SEC Network
Radio: Tom Leach (play-by-play) and Mike Pratt (analyst) will have the UK radio network call on 630 AM and 98.1 FM in Lexington or other network affiliates.
Odds: Kentucky opened as a 19.5-point favorite, which was exactly what KenPom projected.
Predictions: ESPN’s Power Index gives the Cats an 82.1% percent chance to win. KenPom thinks Kentucky wins by an 84-64 margin and gives them a 96% chance of winning.
Here’s a look at Kentucky’s most recent win to help pass the time before tonight’s game!
The Kentucky Wildcats suffered their first loss of the season to the Kansas Jayhawks earlier this week in Chicago, IL when they took part in the State Farm Champions Classic. Following a very close 65-61 loss, the young & talented Wildcats will look to rebound against the East Tennessee State Buccaneers Friday night at Rupp Arena.
And by rebound, I mean literally.
The Wildcats gave up 18 offensive rebounds (and as many turnovers) to the Jayhawks earlier this week. As one of the tallest teams in the country, that’s simply inexcusable going forward.
The Buccaneers have height of their own, with one player at 7’0 & two at 6’10 tall. Kentucky will definitely have to be much better on the defensive glass Friday night.
The turnovers will take time to fix, I believe, as well as their struggles from the 3-point arc. Star forward Kevin Knox was the only Wildcat to hit a three (hitting three) Tuesday night.
Some other focal points for the Wildcats Friday night should be to get Kevin Knox the ball more with space and play Sacha Killeya-Jones as much as possible. Knox is far & away Kentucky's best player and needs to put the ball in the basket. Killeya-Jones was a true difference maker in Tuesday’s big-time game, roaming & dominating the paint. Calipari will surely trust the second year veteran as he continues to blossom.
According to ESPN’s Power Index, Eastern Tennessee State enters Friday night’s matchup with just a 17.9% chance of upset. They’re 1-1 with both games being on the road, dropping the first at Northern Kentucky (81-63) and winning their second at Savannah State (76-61).
Kentucky (2-1) was not as impressive in their two wins to start the season. However, against a veteran Kansas team, they showed much promise for such a young team.
For Friday’s game, expect Kentucky to play exceptionally well, as they’ll want to show their home crowd they’re ready to take on any challenge they face this season.