After a rough night in Knoxville, Kentucky will look to bounce back in a big way when they square off in another top-25 matchup for the week.
In what will be the second matchup of the season between the two squads, it will be another revenge-type game for Kentucky’s opposition. Even though the score from the win in Tuscaloosa doesn't show a blowout, the Cats held the Tide to one of their worst shooting performances of the Nate Oats era at 28% from the field and 10% from deep.
The Tide will make sure that doesn’t happen again in Saturday’s rematch, especially if TyTy Washington is out, as he’s been a great perimeter defender and really helped Kentucky stifle the Tide in Tuscaloosa.
After a win over Mississippi State on Wednesday, the Tide now sit at 17-9 (7-6) with five games left in the regular season. Coming into Saturday's matchup, Alabama is riding a three game win-streak, and they’ve worked their way up to No. 20 overall at KenPom (14th offense; 66th defense).
Alabama currently is averaging 80.4 points on 47% shooting from the field and 31% from three in just over 29 attempts per game.
Individually, the Tide are led by their starting backcourt in Jaden Shackleford (17.1 PPG) and Jahvon Quinerly (14.2 PPG). This team goes as they do. If they are hot, you better watch out. If not then it will be hard for them to find enough scoring from their other options. The last matchup is a good example of the latter, as both players scored less than eight points in the 11-point loss.
Keon Ellis is the other name that can torch you any night. The senior guard is currently averaging 11.1 points per game, while also contributing a solid 5.9 rebounds per game. He is the team's leading rebounder out of his wing spot.
For Kentucky, the big question will be the availability of TyTy Washington. After leaving the game early on Tuesday, and comments made postgame by John Calipari, one would guess they will be without the freshman guard on Saturday.
Who will step up if he is out?
That’s the question that ultimately has to be answered. Without Washington this season, it is no secret that the offense is night-and-day. This is where Davion Mintz will have to use his shot creation to create some easy scoring opportunities, and Sahvir Wheeler will have to dictate the pace.
Oscar Tshiebwe will also need to do Oscar type things. In this first matchup he struggled mightily with the length of Charles Bediako, which led to only 10 points on 4/13 shooting.
For the guards to get open looks from the outside, it will start with a little in-and-out game from feeding the ball to Oscar on the block. Knock down a couple threes, and Oscar should get a chance to go one-on-one in the post.
With the SEC tournament one a few weeks away, expect another battle in Lexington on Saturday as Alabama tries to build on an already impressive resume. Should be a fun, fast-paced game on Saturday.
Location: Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY
Time: 1:00 pm ET on February 19th, 2022.
Listen: UK Sports Network with Tom Leach and Mike Pratt
Odds: ESPN’s matchup predictor is giving Kentucky an 86.1% chance of getting the win. KenPom gives the Cats an 82% chance of winning. Barttorvik projects the Cats to be 11-point favorites and gives them an 84% chance of winning. DraftKings has Kentucky officially favored by 6.5 points.