Kentucky Wildcats (14-4) at Texas Tech Red Raiders (12-6)
- Game Time: 6 pm EST on January 25th
- Location: United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, Texas
- TV Channel: Today’s game can be seen on ESPN.
- Announcers: Karl Ravech and Jimmy Dykes will be on the call.
- 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.
- Live Online Stream: WatchESPN.
- Odds: ESPN BPI gives Texas Tech a 70% chance of victory. KenPom gives the home team a 62% chance of winning.
- Rosters: UK | TT
- Live Stats
- Predictions: KenPom is projecting a 67-63 win for the Red Raiders. numberFire has them winning 70-67, while TeamRankings went with a 67-64 win for the home team.
As the event’s name indicates, this will be a challenge. We’re up for it . pic.twitter.com/l05vCYu1Ij— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) January 24, 2020
The Kentucky Wildcats seem to be finding their identity.
Play stingy defense, play through Nick Richards as much as possible, let whoever is hot that day shoot from the outside, and make free throws has become the formula for these Cas’ success.
On Tuesday, Kentucky improved to 14-4 and 5-1 in the SEC with a win over the Georgia Bulldogs to sweep the season series. The Cats now take a break from SEC play to take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders, a big test for a Kentucky team seemingly hitting its stride at the right time.
As well all expected heading into the season, Richards leads the Wildcats in points (13.7 per game), rebounds (7.8 per game), and field goal percentage (67.4%). Ashton Hagans, when at his best, looks like the best point guard in the country. And with Immanuel Quickley and Tyrese Maxey in the mix, and March being the best month for having good guards, I like the Cats chances.
Speaking of Maxey, this is the kind of game where he typically steps up and has a big performance on a national stage against a ranked opponent. Adding more fuel to his fire is Maxey being a Texas native playing in front of of a large group of family, friends and supporters.
The Red Raiders finished as the runner-up last year in the NCAA Tournament. But with a lot of turnover on the roster, it has taken coach Chris Beard some time to get this year’s group on the same page. But after five consecutive wins in December and early January (including knocking off Louisville at No. 1), they found themselves back in the AP polls.
Big 12 play has not been very kind to Texas Tech, as they have dropped three of their last five, including a convincing loss to TCU on Tuesday. They are led in scoring by freshman guard Jahmi’us Ramsey with 15.5 points per game but have a balanced attack with four players averaging more than 11 points per game.
Senior guard Chris Clarke, formerly of Virginia Tech, leads the team in rebounds (7.9) and assists (5.6) while chipping in 6.4 points per contest.
The Red Raiders play small, starting four guards with their only starting forward being 6-8. They run the floor, play tough defense, and shoot lots of three-pointers. The biggest deep threats are Ramsey and junior Davide Moretti, who are shooting 40.3% and 38.5% from three, respectively.
However, Kentucky has the size advantage in the paint, as senior forward TJ Holyfield (8.7 ppg, 4.6 rpg and this poster vs. Mizzou while at SFA) is the only tue big man seeing significant minutes for the Red Raiders.
And it’s pretty much a push on the perimeter, so you would expect the game plan to be for Kentucky to pound the ball inside to Nick Richards, and hopefully get EJ Montgomery going. Due to the quickness of any matchup defensively, I believe this is probably not going to be a game where Nate Sestina plays a lot.
ESPN BPI is giving Texas Tech a 70% chance of victory. Looking at their schedules, I find that to be pretty high. Being the home team, I do think Tech should be favored by a narrow margin. However, I am sure someone on Kentucky’s coaching staff will let the team know how big of an underdog they are. That always goes over well.
Here is what you need to know for watching and/or following this Big 12-SEC Challenge matchup: