Richmond Spiders (1-0) at Kentucky Wildcats (1-0)
- Game Time: 1 pm EST on Nov. 29th, 2020.
- Location: Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky.
- TV Channel: Today’s game can be seen on ESPN.
- Announcers: Dan Shulman and Jimmy Dykes will be on the call.
- Online Stream: WatchESPN and fuboTV.
- Replay: WatchESPN and the SEC Network (check local listings).
- 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.
- Odds: Kentucky opened as a seven-point favorite. ESPN BPI only gives Kentucky a 52.9% chance of winning this matchup. KenPom gives Kentucky a more friendly 77% chance of winning.
- Rosters: UK | UR
- Box Scores from Last Game: UK | UR
- Gameday changes for Rupp Arena
- Live Stats
- Predictions: TeamRankings has the Wildcats winning 75-68, while numberFire went with 74-68 edge for the home team. KenPom projects a 76-68 victory for Kentucky.
The Kentucky Wildcats are back home Sunday for their second and final game of the Bluegrass Showcase. They’ll get a good test against the Richmond Spiders, who are coming off a Friday blowout win over Morehead State 82-64.
Despite not having any exhibition games due to COVID-19, the Cats look surprisingly sharp Wednesday in their season-opening win over those very Eagles. Even with sophomore forward Keion Brooks Jr. sidelined (also likely out Sunday due to a calf injury), Kentucky showed off some impressive depth in the 81-45 blowout of the Eagles.
Everyone expected Brandon Boston and Terrence Clarke to be stars, and they didn’t disappoint in their collegiate debuts. The two freshman guards combined for 27 points on 12/23 shooting with 11 rebounds, five assists and four steals.
The only blemishes were they shot 0/6 from three-point range, and Clark hit just 2/5 free throws in what was otherwise the kind of performance they’re expected to have on a game-to-game basis.
One big question mark was the point guard situation, and neither Devin Askew nor Davion Mintz disappointed. Askew finished with 12 points, four assists and three rebounds, while Mintz had 10 points and three assists. The two combined to hit 4/6 from deep, while no other Wildcat made more than one three.
Senior center Olivier Sarr shook off a foul-prone first half to go for nine points coming out of halftime to go with two blocks and four rebounds. He also hit a pair of nice mid-range jumpers to show he can beat you in the paint or out closer to the perimeter.
Though freshman forward Isaiah Jackson was also plagued with foul trouble, he still looked mighty impressive with his offensive touch, defense and athleticism, including a highlight-reel rejection at the rim.
Isaiah Jackson erases this shot— Bleacher Report CBB (@br_CBB) November 25, 2020
Jackson did tweak his ankle late in the second half but is expected to play Sunday.
The surprise of the night was freshman forward Cam’Ron Fletcher. Despite finishing outside the top 50 of all the major recruiting rankings for 2020, Fletcher looked very impressive on both ends of the court. Playing just 17 minutes, Fletcher stuffed the stat sheet with nine points, five boards, three assists, one steal and even hit his only three-point attempt. He’s certainly earned a bigger role against what will be a much more challenging Richmond frontline Sunday.
Going into the summer, the Spiders were widely projected as a preseason top-25 team. But that was before star guard Nick Sherod tore his ACL, knocking him out for the entire 2020-21 season.
Even without Sherod, the Spiders still have plenty of veteran firepower that will test the young Wildcats. One of them is another senior guard in Blake Francis, who averaged 17.7 ppg last season. He scored 13 points with three boards and four assists.
At point guard, Jacob Gilyard has averaged double-figures in each of his first three seasons, including 12.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists last season. Against Morehead State, he finished with 13 points, five boards, five assists and three steals.
Fellow senior Nathan Cayo averaged 8.9 points and 5.3 boards a season ago, and he looked even more impressive Friday against the Eagles, finishing with 23 points on 10/10(!) shooting with two blocks and one board. The 6-7 forward already looks like one of the better players Kentucky will face in the non-conference schedule.
There was a time when senior forward Grant Golden was rumored to be a transfer option for Kentucky, but he opted to return to Richmond for his final season. He averaged 13.4 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game a season ago. He actually averaged 17.4 ppg in the 2018-19 season.
Against Morehead State, Golden shined with 16 points on 8/10 shooting in addition to four boards and four assists. He’s got great offensive touch and will be a tough challenge for Sarr and Jackson in the paint.
Despite being a mid-major out of the A-10 (which Richmond was picked to win this season), the Spiders will present a size challenge for Kentucky, as Golden, Cayo, Tyler Burton (6-7), Souleymane Koureissi (6-9) and Matt Grace (6-9) are all key rotation players who check in at 6-7+.
With the firepower Richmond has, this will absolutely be a dogfight that Kentucky will need to play well for 40 minutes to win and improve to 2-0. The Spiders may very well be the second-best non-conference team Kentucky hosts this season behind only a top-25 Texas Longhorns team.