Well, this maybe rough for the Utes today, as they travel to Rupp Area to take on Kentucky, yes, the nemesis from many years in the NCAA tournament. John Calipari’s teams are always super talented, especially with one-and-done players, and the Utes have been a work in progress so far this season. This is a combo that makes me pretty uneasy about the game on this Saturday afternoon.
The Utes are coming off of a poor loss against BYU a week ago, where they fell apart on both sides of the ball in the second half of the game. This team is starting to feel like it is what it is at this point, and that’s about a .500 ball club, and to many fans what may be a lost season. This was always going to be a season of transition, with so many new faces, but the product on the floor just hasn’t been the best. Coach K should hopefully give all these young guys a lot of minutes together, so they can continue to grow. Also, I really hope he lets the lineup go small for extended periods of time, the bigs just aren’t skilled enough to be a major threat.
Utah’s offensive attack is going to have to be as good as we’ve seen all season to be in this game. That means no stupid turnovers, making open shots, and plenty of ball movement. If Utah goes through a drought of 5 minutes, they’ll be down 20 points in a hurry. We need guys like Sedrick Barefield to be efficient, and Donnie Tillman to be assertive. He disappears for large chunks of a game. This is an interesting game to see how much Utah has improved in their execution and their half court sets, because if they haven’t it’ll be a long game. Don’t get me wrong, nothing would be better than beating Kentucky, after all the heartache they have caused, but the Utes have to play about a perfect game to have a chance.
When you look at the notes below from Utah’s SID, you’ll see that this UK team has lost to two very good teams, in Seton Hall and Duke. Duke ran them out of the gym, but the Blue Devils are stupid loaded. The ‘Cats also like to put the ball in the basket, and they’re good at it, averaging almost 84 points per game. The Utes will get some open looks from downtown, as UK gives up 40% shooting from beyond the arc, so the key will be for the Utes to knock them down. Like I said above, if Utah wants to have a chance, they need to put on a great offensive performance.
More about Kentucky from UtahUtes.com:
The Wildcats are 7-2 overall and coming off an overtime loss to Seton Hall, 84-83, this past Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York. Prior to the loss, Kentucky had won seven straight, overcoming a season-opening loss to Duke back on Nov. 6. UK has won 10 straight home games dating back to last season, with its last loss coming to Tennessee (61-59) back on Feb. 6, 2018.
Kentucky has four players averaging double-digits on the season, but are led by Keldon Johnson’s 15.2 points per game average. Former Stanford player, Reid Travis, is next with 14.4 points per game and PJ Washington has tallied 14.0 points per contest. Tyler Herro rounds out the double-digit scorers with 11.6 points per game.
The Wildcats are shooting .488 from the field overall, which includes making .340 percent from downtown. UK is giving up .400 percent to opposing teams from the three-point line, which ranks 340th in the nation.
UTAH VS. KENTUCKY SERIES HISTORY
Kentucky leads the all-time series 9-2, but the Utes and Wildcats have not faced each other since 2005. Saturday’s contest will mark just the fourth time the two teams have played in the regular season and the first regular-season meeting since 1999. Utah and Kentucky have met in the NCAA Tournament six different times, which includes the last two times the teams have met (2003, 2005). Yes, many of those losses include many Sweet 16s, Elite 8 and, of course, the 1998 National Title Game (I’m still crying).
Utah is 1-2 all-time when facing the Wildcats in Lexington, with its lone win coming back in 1976. The last time Utah and Kentucky met at Rupp Arena, the Wildcats won 56-48 back on Nov. 19, 1999.
How to watch:
GAME 9: Utah (4-4) at #19/18 Kentucky (7-2)
WHERE: Lexington, Ky. (Rupp Arena)
WHEN: Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018
TIP-OFF: 5 p.m. ET
TELEVISION: ESPN2 / WatchESPN
For full notes from the official release, go to: