The No. 5 Kentucky Wildcats will be back home in Lexington, Ky. for a visit from the Eastern Kentucky Colonels in Rupp Arena. Below is the Kentucky vs. Eastern Kentucky prediction and game preview.
Kentucky vs. Eastern Kentucky Game Preview
Date: Wednesday, Dec. 9
Game Time: 7 p.m. ET
Venue: Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky.
Why You Need To Care
Uh oh, Kentucky has a loss. Hold on, guys, the hinges might be flying off pretty soon here — kidding. Listen, the Wildcats lost on the road to a talented UCLA team. It happens. Frankly, with as young of a team as John Calipari has, he’s probably glad they lost this early. Last season, Kentucky went all the way to the Final Four before its first defeat. Calipari will use this as a teaching tool and get his guys ready to continue on.
A 7-0 start and a big win against the Duke Blue Devils is all well and good, but a 10-point loss may be more beneficial to the Wildcats with less than a month before conference play picks up.
Eastern Kentucky wishes it was in that position. The Colonels are 7-2, yes, but their two losses came to North Carolina-Wilmington and Western Kentucky. They went 8-7 on the road last season, and they’re 1-2 away from home this season.
It won’t get any easier for Eastern Kentucky in Rupp Arena.
Why Kentucky Will Win
We’re back to those fantastic freshmen again. Calipari knows how to recruit. Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe are proof of that. Them and sophomore Tyler Ulis have been in a groove, combining for an average of 41.2 points and 10.8 assists per game. They’ll all need to protect the ball against a Colonels team producing the fourth-most turnovers in the nation. Skal Labissiere has to find himself within the offense. His six points and one rebound against the Bruins isn’t going to get it done. If the backcourt trio produces, Kentucky will be in good shape, but Labissiere needs to settle into a role.
Why Eastern Kentucky Will Win
You have to give the Colonels credit. They make plays on defense, forcing 17.1 turnovers per game. Murray and Briscoe combine for 5.7 turnovers per game, so some tight-knit, in-your-grill defending could get the young guards out of sorts. Jarelle Reischel and Javontae Hawkins have to produce offensively, too. They combine for an average of 38.5 points per game. Reischel will also have his work cut out for him on the boards. He’ll have to be in the right place at the right time to gather some offensive boards because second chance points could be huge in taking down another stacked Kentucky team.
What’s Going To Happen?
Kentucky’s athleticism is top-notch. It’ll get up and down the floor on the Colonels, and Eastern Kentucky won’t capitalize enough off of the turnovers to gain traction for a big run. The Wildcats will get a solid contribution from Ulis and Murray. Labissiere will have another fly-on-the-wall game, and until he breaks out and proves he can be a dominating big man, there’s no reason to expect anything more. Kentucky will contain the Colonels on the perimeter and secure its fifth home win of the season.
Kentucky vs. Eastern Kentucky Prediction
Line: Kentucky -22.5