The two teams will take part in the Citi Hoops Classic at Madison Square Garden. Kentucky enters the game 7-1, riding a five game win streak. Here are three things to watch for as they look to keep their win streak rolling full steam ahead.
The Wildcats came back down to Earth last Saturday with their 79-70 win over Harvard, shooting just 46% from the floor. In their previous two outings, the Cats had scored 86 & 107 points while shooting over 60%. Saturday will provide more clarity if this team is indeed taking strides to be more efficient offensively (with last Saturday’s game being a bump in the road) or if they’re still trying to figure it out in the half-court.
Quade Green Will Bounce Back
In the last five games, Green played the most minutes (30) against Harvard while scoring the fewest points during that same stretch (2). It was the first game during the stretch that he failed to record double-digit points & failed to hit a shot from behind the arc. His drop-off on offense certainly correlates with UK’s lack of efficiency last weekend. With the high volume of minutes he’s receiving, look for Green to be more aggressive against the 272nd ranked scoring defense in the nation.
Last week Kentucky head coach John Calipari’s game-plan of shutting down Bryce Aiken was a success. Coming into the game averaging 18 PPG, Aiken shot just 2-12 (1-7 from 3) and committed four turnovers while scoring just nine points. Calipari threw a combination of Green, Hamidou Diallo & Shai Gilgeous-Alexander at Aiken, combining speed with length & athleticism to get him off his game. Look for Calipari to do the same with junior guard Micah Seaborn on Saturday. Seaborn is averaging 15.7 PPG coming into the contest and is the only scoring threat the Hawks pose against Kentucky.
Tip-off is set for 12 P.M. EDT at Madison Square Garden. The game will be aired on ESPNU.
The Cats enter this game as 17-point favorites as of Friday afternoon. ESPN’s Power Index is giving Kentucky an 81.2% chance of victory Saturday afternoon.
My Prediction: Wildcats 92, Hawks 63
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