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NCAA Basketball: Kentucky Wesleyan College at Kentucky Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky Wildcats Basketball vs. Miles College

Here’s a little flashback to the 2019 Champions Classic to get fired up for the new season!

The start of the college basketball season is almost here folks, and the Kentucky Wildcats are preparing for the Duke Blue Devils on Tuesday Nov. 9th to kick off the regular season.

Before that, Kentucky will welcome in another exhibition opponent when Miles College comes to Lexington Friday night.

After a solid first performance against Kentucky Wesleyan a week ago, this Wildcats team will look to shore up a few things before their blockbuster matchup in Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, most importantly on the defensive side of the ball.

The defense struggled throughout in the game against the Panthers, so this exhibition should be a good chance to see if any progress has been made through practice this week. The Wildcats have the length and motor across the board to be a great defensive team. It’s just a matter of putting all the pieces together over the next several months.

Against the Panthers, Kentucky was led in scoring by TyTy Washington and Keion Brooks who both finished the game with 18 points. They were followed by Davion Mintz with 12, Oscar Tshiebwe with 11, and Sahvir Wheeler added another 10.

Offensively you could tell that this team has the chemistry to light up the scoreboard. Washington is a legit scorer, Wheeler is already thriving in his playmaking role, and Tshiebwe is a double-double machine. Add in Kellan Grady alongside Mintz and Brooks, and this offense seems poised to be one of the best in the league with the new four-out, dribble-drive philosophy.

The biggest question for the Cats on Friday night will be the availability of Jacob Toppin and CJ Fredrick. Both players did not participate in last week's exhibition game, but they could be ready to go Friday in spot minutes against Miles College.

Toppin has been practicing with the team since early October after suffering a shoulder injury in September and seems the most likely to contribute significant minutes against the Golden Bears. Fredrick is more of a toss-up, as he’s still recovering from a leg surgery he went through over the summer.

Miles College will come to Lexington for the first time ever, as both John Calipari and Miles College head coach Fred Watson are excited about the opportunity to continue to bring more attention and focus on HBCUs.

Out of Fairfield (AL), the Golden Bears are part of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, as well as one of the top programs in their division over the last several seasons.

Coming off a COVID-19 shorten season, Miles College finished with a 10-1 record. Dating back to the start of the 2018-19 season, the program has compiled an impressive record of 55-14.

The Golden Bears will be led into Rupp by their junior guard Yasim Hooker. In the 2020-21 season, Hooker averaged 10.3 on 59% shooting. He also added 6.8 rebounds per game and blocked 10 shots in the 11 game season.

Overall, Fred Watson’s team will be looking to gain some momentum early as they will be trying to replace their two leading scorers from the past couple of seasons. A young team overall, they will also look to senior forward Joel Logan and fifth-year guard Brandon Miller to help Hooker lead this team and be competitive through both quarters on Friday night.