Winthrop (5-6) at (13) Kentucky (8-2)
Wednesday, December 22nd, 1:00 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Pat Taggart, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Rupp Arena (23,000) -- Lexington, Kentucky. Television: FSN-S. Home Record: Winthrop 3-0, Kentucky 4-0. Away Record: Winthrop 2-3, Kentucky 1-1. Neutral Record: Winthrop 0-3, Kentucky 3-1. Conference Record: Winthrop 1-1, Kentucky 0-0. Series Record: Kentucky leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The 13th-ranked Kentucky Wildcats have an outstanding chance to add another victory to their already solid record as they welcome the Winthrop Eagles to Lexington for a non-conference bout.
Winthrop has lost three of its last four games to fall to 5-6 overall. On Monday, the club struggled at the offensive end in a 73-58 loss to Dayton. The Eagles are members of the Big South Conference and have split the two league games that they have played thus far.
Since suffering its second loss of the season on December 4th to North Carolina, Kentucky has run off three consecutive double-digit victories to move to 8-2 overall. On Saturday, the Wildcats cruised past Mississippi Valley State by an 85-60 final, and they also rolled over Notre Dame and Indiana during the current streak. The fact that John Calipari's Kentucky team is so strong despite losing five players to the first round of the most recent NBA Draft is tremendously impressive.
Kentucky won its only previous meeting with Winthrop.
Through 11 games, Winthrop is scoring 64.4 ppg on 40.9 percent field goal efficiency, so there is certainly room for improvement at the offensive end. Fortunately, the Eagles have played well defensively, limiting foes to 66.2 ppg on 39.3 percent shooting. There are three double-digit scorers in the fold for Winthrop, and Robbie Dreher leads the way with 15.4 ppg on the strength of his 43.8 percent accuracy from three-point range. Andre Jones checks in with 12.5 ppg, and Reggie Middleton provides 11.1 ppg and nearly four assists per contest. In the 15-point loss to Dayton last time out, Charles Corbin was the best player on the floor for Winthrop, as he tallied 18 points. Dreher added 14 points in that affair, and Middleton finished with 10. Unfortunately for the Eagles, they were outrebounded by a 46-28 margin and had 10 fewer assists than did the Flyers.
Last season, Kentucky possessed a sensational group of freshmen highlighted by John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins. This season, Terrence Jones, Brandon Knight and Doron Lamb have filled the gaps created by the departure of last year's rookies. Jones is a gifted forward who paces the Wildcats with 18.9 ppg and 10.0 rpg. He is also tops with 22 blocks and could contend for SEC Player of the Year honors if this pace continues. The same can be said for Knight, who is scoring 17.1 ppg from his point guard position. Lamb, a 48.6 percent shooter from three-point range, provides 12.4 ppg, while DeAndre Liggins (10.5 ppg) and Darius Miller (10.2 ppg) round out the unit's double-digit scorers. Kentucky is generating 78.6 ppg while limiting opponents to 64.0 ppg on 38.7 percent field goal efficiency. In the easy win over Mississippi Valley State on Saturday, Jones paced a balanced attack with 19 points. The Wildcats certainly got the job done defensively, limiting the Delta Devils to 32.8 percent field goal efficiency.
Jones and Knight may only spend one year at Kentucky, but it has a chance to be a memorable one for fans of the Wildcats. Add another win for the young 'Cats, who may be the class of the SEC.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Kentucky 87, Winthrop 63
12/22 10:44:19 ET