- Time: 12 pm ET on December 31st, 2021.
- Location: Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky.
- TV Channel: The SEC Network has today’s TV coverage.
- Announcers: Mike Morgan and Jon Sundvold are calling the action.
- Online Stream: WatchESPN, the ESPN app, or use a free trial of fuboTV.
- Replay: WatchESPN
- Radio Broadcast: UK Sports Network with Darren Headrick and Mike Pratt.
- Rosters: UK I HP
- Stats to Know: UK I HP
- Teamsheets: UK | HP
- Odds: DraftKings has Kentucky favored by 27.5 with an over/under of 135. ESPN’s Basketball Power Index gives the Cats a 98.5% chance of coming away with the victory, while KenPom gives them a 99% of winning.
- Predictions: Barttorvik projects an 78-58 win for the home team. KenPom has the Cats winning 79-55, while TeamRankings projects an 81-54 victory, Kentucky!
Tubby Smith Jersey Retirement Ceremony https://t.co/E7vaWfKxsS— Kentucky Men’s Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) December 31, 2021
Now, it’s time for the BBN to honor former head coach Tubby Smith as his name is going into the rafters of Rupp Arena. The game is set for a noon ET tipoff in Rupp Arena, and fans are encouraged to be in their seats by 11:40 am in order to see the ceremony.
Tubby Smith was introduced as the Wildcats’ head coach on May 12th, 1997. He then spent ten seasons as the Kentucky head coach leading the program to an overall record of 263-83 during his time for a winning percentage of .760.
“It is with great pride, enjoyment and a sense of excitement that we add one more name to the list of people who will see their names in the rafters of Rupp Arena and that’s Orlando ‘Tubby’ Smith,” said UK AD Mitch Barnhart in a press release. “A national championship coach, National Coach of the Year, a gentleman who brought so much class, honor and excellence to UK, Tubby is special and so deserving. We are looking forward to honoring Tubby and (wife) Donna, who contributed so much to the fabric of the University of Kentucky, and we want to thank them in a special way.”
Smith led the Cats to their seventh national title in 1998, defeating South Carolina State, Saint Louis, UCLA, and Duke to reach the Final Four. They then defeated Stanford in overtime and followed that up with a 78-69 win over Utah in the championship game.
There is no question that Smith deserves to be in the rafters, and I know it will be a special day as he brings his High Point Panthers to Rupp Arena. He was previously inducted into the UK Athletics Hall of Fame in 2013.
Smith will be the 44th retired jersey to hang in the rafters of Rupp Arena, including fellow national championship coaches Adolph Rupp, Joe B. Hall and Rick Pitino.
“Tubby and I have been friends for years,” UK head coach John Calipari said in a press release. “He is so deserving of this honor. He won big here, and he did it with class. Tubby impacted so many people in and around this program, and he is loved by the players who played for him and by this fan base. I can’t wait to see his banner raised.”
Tubby and the High Point Panthers are coming into this matchup with a 6-7 overall record with wins against Shenandoah, Howard, Chowan, Elon, Guilford, and Florida Atlantic.
The Panthers’ losses have been to Northwestern, Notre Dame, Georgia State, Furman, South Carolina State, and Michigan State. They actually gave the 10th-ranked Spartans a battle Wednesday, as the Panthers led 35-34 at halftime. The game was even tied at 56-all before the Spartans won 81-68.
The Panthers are led in scoring by guard John-Michael Wright who is averaging 20 points per game and is shooting 41.2% from three. He is also their assists leader at 4.2 a game.
Zack Austin is their leading rebounder with 7.5 per game, and he is also their second-leading scorer with 14 points a game. He is a threat from deep as well, shooting 33.8% from three-point range.
Overall, the Panthers are an excellent three-point shooting team as they have five players shooting 33% or better from three (4 of the 5 are over 40%) that take them regularly. As a team they are shooting 38.1% from deep.
Needless to say, the Cats are going to have to come ready to guard the three-point line and not go under screens or else the Panthers will take advantage.