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Kentucky Wildcats Basketball Preview: Harvard Crimson

After a sluggish start, Kentucky shows signs of playing up to their potential. Harvard stumbles into Rupp with a 3-5 record and they are not the tough Harvard team of years past.

NCAA Basketball: Harvard vs St. Mary's Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

After what seems like a lifetime away, the Kentucky Wildcats basketball team returns to the court to face the Harvard Crimson.

The Crimson have a reputation for being a tough game as they are well coached and generally have a good high basketball IQ. In the past, I have always cringed to see one of the Ivy League teams on the schedule as I knew that it would be an unexpected battle. This is probably one of the youngest and weakest Crimson teams in a while, however.

Harvard comes into the game with a 3-5 record and may be a little tired as they are coming off a game last night against Northeastern. Harvard lost that game 77-61 and Northeastern is not a world beater as they came into that game with an RPI of 270, according to Jerry Palm.

Kentucky, by, far, is the best team the Crimson has faced so far. Harvard has only faced two teams with a top 200 RPI. They lost to #56 Saint Mary's 89-71 and to #156 Cal State Fullerton 70-61. They will face a Wildcat team coming off their best overall performance and that is well rested.

Let's meet the Crimson.

PROBABLE STARTERS

(stats as of 11/29/2017)

#11 G - BRYCE AIKEN - SO 6'0, 175

18.0 PPG, 3.9 APG, 2.7 RPG

#5 G - RIO HASKETT - FR 6'3, 195

4.3 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 1.7 APG

#20 - G - JUSTIN BASSEY - SO 6'5, 215

4.3 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 3.0 APG

#00 - F CHRIS LEWIS - SO 6'9, 235

12.9 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 0.6 APG

#35 - F ROBERT BAKER - 6'11 205

5.3 PPG, 4,9 RPG, 1.0 APG

THE BENCH

#25 G - COREY JOHNSON - JR 6'5, 200

6.7 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 1.3 APG

#31 F - SETH TOWNS - SO 6'7, 215

13.2 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 1.5 APG

#30 F - DANILO DJURICIC - FR 6'8, 210

5.5 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 0.2 APG

The Crimson seems to still be a team that is struggling to find themselves as 11 of the twelve players that have appeared in a game have started a game. In that aspect, it was tough to figure exactly what starting lineup the Crimson may trot out.

This is a team that takes a lot of three-pointers but they are not accurate. Seth Towns is probably the best three-point shooter at 38.9% but Bryce Aiken (28.2%_ take the most shots. Corey Johnson hits at a 34.5% clip. All in all, Harvard launches 23.4 three-pointers a game but hits just 28.7%.

The Crimson do not take great care of the ball. Aiken and Justin Bassey are the primary ball handlers. Bassey has an A/TP ratio of 1.5 while Aiken has 1.23. Overall, this team turns the ball over a lot with an A/TO of .90.

Even with their weak schedule so far, this is not a good rebounding team. The Crimson are being outrebounded by 2.3 a game. Lewis is the best rebounder and Harvard has a couple of guys that get at the boards fairly decent, but those numbers pale to Kentucky.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN?

When researching this, I was a little surprised to see that so far, this has been a pretty decent shooting team so far as they hit 50.7% of their shots.

Also, the defense, which seems to be much maligned at times, is right on course for a Calipari team. Teams are scoring just 65.7 points a game and hitting just 38.4% of their shots.

I personally have been critical of the three-point defense by UK, but teams are hitting just 27.7% of those attempts. Granted, Calipari has made some adjustments to help this team and personally, I do not care if this team plays a zone. Results matter and for now, it has worked.

The one thing that this Kentucky team is slow at is developing their killer instinct and allowing teams to hang with them longer than they should. The main reason for that is the turnovers.

It is odd to see a Kentucky team with an A/TO ratio of 1.0 in the softer part of their schedule, but this is a young team and that is one of the areas they will be slow in developing.

The Wildcats are learning, however. After a sluggish start, the offense is starting to click and have scored 193 points the last two games after failing to crack 80 the first five games. They also had 22 assists in their last game and after a week of Camp Cal, I look for a much-improved team.

Let's call this one 89-60.