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Kentucky vs. Penn viewing info, what to watch for, and predictions

The Wildcats will look to rebound in a “homecoming” type game.

Tre Mitchell Dylan Ballard - A Sea Of Blue

Kentucky Wildcats vs. Penn Quakers

  • Date: Saturday, December 9th, 2023
  • Time: 12:00 pm ET
  • Location: Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • TV Channel: ESPN2 will have today’s TV coverage.
  • Announcers: Kevin Fitzgerald and Carolyn Peck will call the action.
  • Online Stream: 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 | PENN
  • Stats to Know: UK | PENN
  • KenPom: UK | PENN
  • Odds: DraftKings Sportsbook has Kentucky favored by 14.5 points. ESPN’s matchup predictor gives Kentucky just a 68.3% to win, which is surprising given that Penn is ranked near 200th in KenPom. Bart Torvik and EvanMiya are substantially higher at 92% and 88%. KenPom is at 89%.
  • Predictions: The projections have Kentucky winning, but the margins are not very consistent. Bart Torvik projects the Wildcats to win 86-70, while Haslametrics projects a tad smaller margin of victory, 86-74. EvanMiya falls in between, projecting an 84-71 win. KenPom went with an 86-72 victory, Kentucky!

How do you see today playing out? Send us your predictions in the comments section!


The Kentucky Wildcats have entered the stretch of their schedule where they will play just three games in three weeks, all on Saturdays. While this certainly gives the team plenty of time to practice and learn more about themselves, a positive for a young team, it can also be a negative.

After losing to UNC Wilmington as an 18.5-point favorite this past Saturday, many fans have voiced their frustrations and participated in debates as we wait for the next game. Fortunately, that game is now less than 48 hours away as the Wildcats will have an opportunity to redeem themselves this Saturday as they take on the Penn Quakers in Philadelphia.

Played at the Wells Fargo Center, the home of the Philadelphia 76ers, the game will serve as a homecoming of sorts for several Wildcats, including Aaron Bradshaw, Justin Edwards, Tre Mitchell, Adou Thiero, DJ Wagner, and Kareem Watkins, who are all from or grew up in the area. This will be just the second matchup between the two teams, with Kentucky winning the first, 86-62, back in 2011.

Penn has just one NCAA Tournament appearance since 2008, but historically, they are arguably the most storied program in the Ivy League. Leading the Ivy League with 39 conference titles, the Quakers went to the Final Four in 1979 and hold an overall NCAA Tournament record of 13-26.

This season, Penn is projected to finish fifth in the Ivy League and is currently just above .500 at 6-4. The Quakers have played a common opponent of UK in St. Joseph’s, losing 69-61. That said, they also beat Villanova in mid-November.

Penn is a team that Kentucky should be able to take care of business against and need to. Let’s take a look at some things to watch.

Guard Play

Saturday’s game will come down to guard play. Kentucky has one of the best backcourts in the country when fully healthy. However, Penn has two all-conference-level guards in Tyler Perkins and Clark Slajchert, who combine to average 35 points per game, nearly half of Penn’s points.

While talented, Kentucky’s biggest issue this season has been perimeter defense, and specifically staying in front of their man. Fortunately, Penn’s guards are not as quick as UNCW’s, but they are better shooters. Kentucky’s backcourt will still be able to be aggressive in looking for steals and transition opportunities, but they need to do so with discipline.

DJ Wagner

Speaking of guards. After suffering an ankle injury toward the end of the first half of the Miami (FL) game, DJ Wagner has consistently been in a boot and receiving treatment. While the injury isn’t very severe, it is more than a simple tweak.

Sitting out of the UNCW game, it is clear that Kentucky missed him. While inconsistent at times this season, Wagner is a leader on the floor, a solid perimeter defender, and is the best on the team at taking his man off the dribble to create for himself and others. Without him, the Wildcats just looked uncomfortable.

Kentucky is a more talented team than Penn and has had more time to prepare to play without him this time around if needed. That said, Wagner suffered his injury nine days ago and by the time of the game, 11 days. A typical sprain takes 2-3 weeks to recover, and it has been announced if he will be available or not.

My prediction, knowing the type of player Wagner is and the toughness he has, I would expect him to give it a go.

Statement

Prior to Saturday’s loss, Kentucky may have been the hottest team in the country. The Wildcats had scored 95 or more points and shot nearly 60 percent from the field during that stretch, culminating in the dominant win over Miami. Then the UNCW loss provided a wake-up call, and maybe a needed one for a young team.

In his postgame press conference, Tre Mitchell talked about the disappointing performance but said the team is already looking ahead to their next game and ready to make a statement.

“I feel bad for whoever we got next, short and sweet,” Mitchell said. “These dudes are not going to take this lightly. Whoever we got next better come with everything they got. These dudes feel like they’ve got something to make up for.”