The trip out west to Las Vegas was less than desirable for a Kentucky team that now finds themselves sitting at 8-3 on the season.
The next test will not be an easy one - The #3 Louisville Cardinals are coming to town on Saturday for a highly anticipated rivalry game. The battle for the bluegrass will take place in Rupp Arena on Saturday December, 28th at 3:45 pm and can be seen on CBS.
This will mark Kentucky’s second game in a row playing on the CBS network with the nation’s eyes watching.
Right now, the Cats are struggling to muster up enough offense to put themselves in a position to win ball games. One of the lone bright spots over the last several games has been the play of Ashton Hagans. The sophomore point guard has tallied 30 points and 17 assists over his last two games and he looked like a legitimate All-American for the first 20 minutes in UK’s 71-65 loss to the Buckeyes.
Another positive for the Cats heading into their showdown with Louisville is the emergence of Nate Sestina’s three point shooting. In just his second game back from the wrist injury Sestina buried 5 threes on his way to 17 points on Saturday. You have to assume that the Cards will now be preparing for the pick and pop and make limiting his looks from a deep a priority in their gameplan.
Kentucky still ranks among the nation’s worst in shooting the three ball, something that has to change if this team is going to beat Louisville, or pretty much any good team.
Louisville is ranked a top five team in the country for a reason. Lead by junior forward Jordan Nwora and his impressive 21 points per game, the Cardinals have only lost one game this season and have blown out nearly every other opponent.
Senior forward Dwayne Sutton has proven to play extremely tough in the paint, an area that continues to plague the Cats. Sutton is grabbing nearly nine boards a game, three of those being on the offensive end.
Senior center Steven Enoch has also become a force in the paint, averaging 11.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and one block per game. The trio of Enoch, Sutton and Nwora will make it very hard for Kentucky to score in the paint, so if their shooting woes continue, Saturday could be a long one in Rupp.
The theme of this season is starting to become the inconsistent play of UK’s frontcourt, especially that of Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery. The two were essentially non-factors against Ohio State and will need to step up if Kentucky has the chance at an upset.
Avoiding a three game losing streak is sure to provide some motivation to John Calipari’s team. The players getting a break to celebrate Christmas should come as a welcomed stress reliever.
There is no denying that something has to change and change quick if Kentucky is going to add a strong win to their resume.
Game: Louisville Cardinals (11-1) at Kentucky Wildcats (8-3)
Location: Rupp Arena - Lexington, Kentucky
Start Time: 3:45 pm EST on December 28th
TV Info: CBS
Live Stream: CBS Sports online and the CBS Sports App.
Odds: ESPN’s matchup predictor gives Louisville a 53% at winning.
Score projection: KenPom projects a 66-65 win for the Cardinals.