The Kentucky Wildcats are the No. 1 team in the land, and they will have their first defense of that position on Tuesday when the Evansville Purple Aces come to town. Kentucky saw a balanced attack take down the Eastern Kentucky University Colonels on Friday, and will look to continue finding their identity on Tuesday.
While almost every member of the Wildcats’ rotation contributed to defeat the in-state Colonels, the player that stood out the most was Nick Richards. The junior center set the pace for Kentucky with 21 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 blocks in 31 minutes on the floor. This strong performance was coming off of an outstanding defensive effort against Michigan State in Kentucky’s opening game.
Richards saw similar success in the Bahamas during last season’s summer trip, but then fell back into bad habits once the season started. If he can continue to be the same guy he has been thus far in the first two games, Kentucky’s chances of cutting down the nets in April go way up. That would also be bad news for Evansville on Tuesday.
The Purple Aces are coached by former Wildcat Walter McCarty, who is in his second year as the head coach for Evansville. Coming off of a 11-21 campaign in the 2019-2020 season, McCarty is hoping his team will take a major step forward and make some noise in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Evansville returns their leading scorer KJ Riley (13.6 points per game) and leading rebounder John Hall (6.6 rebounds per game) from last season, and their roster boasts lots of experience with seven juniors and a senior in the mix.
Will that be enough to give the Wildcats a run in Rupp Arena? Probably not. But it will be great to have Walter McCarty back in the building and to support his new team as we cheer on the Cats to hang onto that No. 1 ranking.
Evansville Purple Aces (0-0) at Kentucky Wildcats (2-0)
Game Time: 7 pm EST on Tuesday, November 12
Location: Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky
TV Channel: SEC Network
Radio: Tom Leach and Mike Pratt will have the UK radio network call on 630 AM, 98.1 FM in Lexington, and on the UK Sports Network.
Online Stream: WatchESPN
Odds: No line has been set, but ESPN BPI gives Kentucky a 96% chance of winning, while KenPom gives the Wildcats a 99% chance of victory.
Replay: WatchESPN and SEC Network (check local listings).
Score Projections: KenPom is projecting an 81-56 win for the Wildcats.