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Kentucky vs. Illinois State viewing info, odds, what to watch for, and predictions

Everything you need for Wildcats vs. Redbirds.

Reeves Dylan Ballard - A Sea Of Blue

Kentucky Wildcats vs. Illinois State Redbirds

  • Time: 7 pm ET on December 29th
  • Location: Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center in Lexington, Kentucky.
  • TV Channel: The SEC Network will have today’s TV coverage.
  • Announcers: Kevin Fitzgerald and Daymeon Fishback will call the action.
  • Online Stream: You can stream the game online using WatchESPN and the ESPN app.
  • Radio: Tom Leach and Jack Givens have the UK radio call on the UK Sports Radio Network.
  • Replay: WatchESPN and the SEC Network (check local listings).
  • Rosters: UK | ISU
  • Stats to Know: UK | ISU
  • KenPom: UK | ISU
  • Odds: DraftKings Sportsbook has Kentucky favored by 20 with an over/under of 149.5. ESPN’s matchup predictor gives the Cats a 94.8% chance of victory. Bart Torvik and EvanMiya are at 96% and 96.8%, respectively, while KenPom sits at 96%. Kentucky is 7-4 ATS, while Illinois State is 6-5 ATS.
  • Predictions: Bart Torvik picks Kentucky to win 85-64. Haslametrics is at 84-65. EvanMiya projects a 77-57 Cats win. KenPom is going with an 84-64 victory, Kentucky!

What is your prediction for tonight? Let us know in the comments section!

The Kentucky Wildcats will look to end 2023 with a victory as they play host to Illinois State on Friday night. Game time is set for 7:00 pm ET on the SEC Network.

After more than a week off and nearly a month since they last played in Rupp Arena, the Wildcats take the court in what will be deemed The Antonio Reeves Game against his former school in Illinois State.

Historically, Illinois State is not a very prestigious program, last making the tournament in 1998. However, they are on pace for their first winning record since 2019 under second-year coach Ryan Pedon.

This will be just the second time the two programs have played, the first of which took place in 2015 as Isaiah Briscoe and Jamal Murray led the Wildcats to a 75-63 victory, a game Tyler Ulis missed with an elbow injury.

Here’s what you need to watch for in this Friday night affair.

Speed Up The Game

One marquee characteristic of this Kentucky team is to play fast. Averaging nearly 80 possessions per game, they rank 14th in the country in doing just that.

However, Illinois State plays at a much more deliberate pace. In fact, they will play at the slowest pace Kentucky has faced so far this season at under 70 possessions per game.

The Wildcats will naturally look to push the pace with quick ball movement. However, they will also look to create quick scoring opportunities off rebounds, which has improved greatly since Aaron Bradshaw and Ugonna Onyenso have returned from injury.

Force Turnovers

This leads to the next point, force turnovers. This is one of the best ways to push the pace in a game and create transition opportunities.

Unfortunately for Illinois State, they are not great at taking care of the ball. They currently rank 243rd nationally in turnovers per game (13.2) and 290th in assist-to-turnover ratio (0.83).

While this Kentucky team has not been great defensively, they generate steals among the best in the country, averaging 9.2 per game, ranking 24th in the nation.

That combination should allow for the Wildcats to be aggressive and look to get into passing lanes and get some easy points.

Justin Edwards Consistency

It is no secret that for much of the season, Justin Edwards has not lived up to the high expectations that many had set for him.

Coming to Lexington as the top recruit in Kentucky’s No. 1 2023 recruiting class, Edwards is now playing the fifth most minutes on the team and has played less than 15 minutes in two of the last three games.

For weeks, the staff has talked about the work he is putting in and it being just a matter of time before having his breakout game. Against Louisville, Edwards didn’t have his breakout game but did have one of his best games at Kentucky with 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 steals.

Now with Bradshaw and Onyenso back, Edwards has looked more comfortable. If he can find and show some consistency, this Kentucky team’s ceiling can be raised even higher.