Utah Utes (8-2) at Kentucky Wildcats (8-1)
- Date: Wednesday, December 18th, 2019
- Game Time: 11 pm EST (yes, you read that correctly).
- Location: T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
- TV Channel: Tonight’s game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
- Announcers: The legendary Bill Walton and and Dave Pasch will be on the call tonight. This should give you an idea of what to expect tonight:
- 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 radio: TuneIn broadcast or UKAthletics.com.
- Online Stream: The game can be streamed online using WatchESPN
- Odds: Kentucky opened as an 11.5-point favorite. KenPom gives the Wildcats an 85% chance of winning, while ESPN BPI gives them a 76.7% chance of victory.
- Replay: WatchESPN and SEC Network (check local listings).
- Rosters: UK | Utah
- Live Stats
- Predictions: KenPom has Kentucky winning 76-65. numberFire projects a 75-67 win for the Wildcats, while TeamRankings is going with a 75-63 victory for Kentucky!
Live Now: @UKCoachCalipari - Pre-Utah #BBN #TGT https://t.co/E9AVXZOCs9— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) December 17, 2019
Kentucky has won six games in a row, but extending that will prove to be a major challenge as the team heads to Las Vegas for a pair of games over a five-day period. Their next opponent will be Utah in the Neon Hoops Showcase Benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer, which takes place in Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena.
Utah comes into the game at 8-2 with victories over Nevada and Minnesota (who recently ran Ohio State off the floor), and they are looking for their fifth victory in a row. The Utes also have an overtime win over a top-50 KenPom team in BYU, but they have a pair of losses to Tulane and Coastal Carolina, both of whom rank outside KenPom’s top 150.
The Utes are led in points and rebounds by Timmy Allen, who averages 20.6 points and 7.4 boards per contest. The sophomore forward is not an outside shooter and does a lot of work in the paint for a 6-6 guy. He’s also a good passing big with 2.7 assists per game, though he’s not much of a shot blocker at 0.3 blocks per contest. He’s also been prone to turnovers, including a seven-turnover outing in a narrow loss to Tulane.
It will be interesting to see how Kentucky defends Allen. He is likely too big to be guarded by the Hagans, Maxey, or Quickley, and too quick for Montgomery or Richards to handle. This would be an idea matchup for Whitney if he is up to the challenge, and Keion Brooks may be an option if he continues to play as well as he has been.
On the outside, Rylan Jones, Riley Battin, and Jaxon Brenchley. The trio shoots 47.5%, 42.3%, and 42.9% from behind the three-point line, respectively. They will be looking to get hot and create space for Allen to go to work.
As for the Wildcats, Immanuel Quickley and Ashton Hagans have been amazingly consistent, and even on his bad days Nick Richards finds ways to help the team. On any given day, EJ Montgomery or Tyrese Maxey could take over a game. So we have seen how dangerous they can be. But in the next two weeks, we will find out what this team is made of.
Kentucky should get a win over Utah, but in a game out west against a team that can get hot, anything can happen. You also have to hope the Wildcats are not looking ahead to Saturday’s opponent, Ohio State, who got caught looking ahead to Kentucky when they laid a goose egg vs. Minnesota.