Kentucky is in unfamiliar territory.
For just the second time, UK is playing Texas Tech in Lubbock. Kentucky leads the all-time series 4-0. The last time Kentucky played at Texas Tech, Pat Riley scored 29 points to lead Rupp’s Runts to an 89-73 victory in December of 1965.
That year Kentucky made a run to the National Championship game before ultimately ending the season with a loss. Chris Beard’s squad did just that a year ago, falling to Virginia 85-77 in overtime. This year’s Red Raiders team does not look the same, losing their biggest star, Jarrett Culver, to the NBA Draft.
Despite the attrition, Beard’s physical defense has still given opponents fits all year. The seventh-best defense in the nation according to KenPom, they held Louisville to 57 points in a victory over the Cardinals at Madison Square Garden. If you’re looking for a better win than that, good luck. Teams Texas Tech has lost to:
- Iowa by 11
- Creighton by 7
- DePaul by 5
- Baylor by 5
- West Virginia by 12
- TCU by 11
That last loss came Tuesday night in Fort Worth. Were they looking ahead to UK? Probably. It’s the biggest game in Lubbock in years. That is why students have been camped out for days, waiting to welcome the Wildcats to a rowdy atmosphere at United Supermarkets Arena. Can Kentucky weather the storm? We’ll find out tonight at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN.
As the event’s name indicates, this will be a challenge. We’re up for it ?. pic.twitter.com/l05vCYu1Ij
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) January 24, 2020
Kahlil Whitney Leaves UK
One player we will not see dressed in Kentucky blue tonight in Lubbock is Kahlil Whitney. The freshman forward revealed on Twitter Friday morning that his time as a Wildcat has ended. The timing was bizarre, but John Calipari wished him the best nonetheless.
“This is tough for me because Kahlil is a tremendous person who is going to do great things,” Calipari said in a statement. “I certainly don’t want to see him go because I wanted to continue to coach him, but I understand his decision and, as we always do here, will support him in whatever way we can.”
Whitney’s minutes had declined dramatically since the calendar turned to 2020. Even so, we saw early in the year how it only takes one or two injuries to really put this team against the ropes. It is only exacerbated even further by foul trouble. Hopefully that problem will not rear its ugly head in Whitney’s absence.
Vegas, TV, Radio
The Wildcats are 4-point favorites in the desert with a total of 132.5. Kentucky has only covered once in the last four games.
ESPN is running it back. The same duo that called Tuesday night’s game against Georgia, Karl Ravech and Jimmy Dyles, will be behind the mics down in Lubbock. If you would rather listen to The Voice of the Wildcats, you have multiple options.
- AM: 840 WHAS, 630 WLAP
- FM: 98.1 WBUL
- Satellite: XM-81 and Sirius-81
- Online: iHeart Radio
A Tough Ticket
One of the hottest tickets on the secondary market, the cheapest get-in price on SeatGeek is $230 per ticket before fees. You won’t find any others on the site for less than $400. Prices start at $250 on Guy on the Corner Tickets before jumping into the $500s range. StubHub is the most inexpensive option, with a couple of standing-room only general admission tickets up for grabs for $150.
What the Analytics Predict
Most don’t believe in the Big Blue. KenPom predicts a 68-64 Red Raider win and gives UK a 37% chance to pull off the upset. ESPN’s BPI is even less bullish on the Cats, giving UK only a 29.9% chance at victory on the road. OddsShark stands alone, predicting a one-point win for the Wildcats.
College GameDay is at Kansas
That won’t be awkward. Once they get finished talking about the brawl for an hour, here are the college basketball games you can find on your television.
- Noon: Missouri at #14 West Virginia on ESPN
- Noon: #21 Illinois at Michigan on FS1
- Noon: Iowa State at #16 Auburn on ESPNU
- Noon: Miami at North Carolina on ESPN2
- 1:00: #9 Villanova at Providence on CBS
- 2:00: Miss. State at Oklahoma on ESPN2
- 2:00: LSU at Texas on ESPN
- 4:00: Tennessee at #3 Kansas on ESPN
- 4:00: TCU at Arkansas on ESPN2
- 4:00: Oklahoma State at Texas A&M on ESPNU
- 8:00: #1 Baylor at Florida on ESPN
- 8:00: Notre Dame at #5 Florida State on ACCN
A New Scholarship Video
I will never not enjoy these.
— Georgia Southern Athletics (@GSAthletics) January 24, 2020
This may come as a shock, so brace yourselves. Bobby Petrino hired his son, Nick, to be his offensive coordinator at Missouri State. After one season away from his Dad at UT-Martin, Nick Petrino has returned to friendly confines. Bobby Petrino and nepotism, a more reliable combination than peanut butter and jelly.
Logan Stenberg at the Senior Bowl
The All-SEC offensive guard will be representing the University of Kentucky this afternoon in Mobile. Competing against some of the most talented NFL Draft prospects in America, Stenberg will have an importunity to shine in front of NFL scouts one more time. He’ll be wearing No. 71 for the South when the ball kicks off at 2:30 p.m. ET on the NFL Network.
The KSR Pregame Show is at 3:30
Matt Jones and the KSR crew will be setting up shop to preview the game from somewhere in Iowa. Tune in to hear stories from the road and what they believe will happen in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.