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Previewing No. 14 UK Hoops Matchup Against Grambling State

The No. 14 Kentucky Wildcats (5-0) play host to the Grambling State Tigers (1-4) on Tuesday night in Memorial Colisuem at 7 p.m. on the SEC Network+.

The Wildcats are coming off its best offensive performance of the season following a 79-54 drumming of the Morehead State Eagles in the previous outing. Heading into the matchup with Grambling State, the ‘Cats will look to remain undefeated with its sixth consecutive win of the season.

*Side note: Kentucky dropped from 13th in the polls to 14th despite not losing a game and recently playing its most efficient game of the season. NC State, however, did jump the ‘Cats to move to tied for No. 12 after a 17-point win over Saint Mary’s and a 62-34 demolition of Maine.*

So what do we know about the Grambling State Tigers other than the fact that their logo looks remarkably similar to Georgia’s but colored in gold? Nothing! But that’s about to change. Here’s a preview of what to expect from the Lady Cats in their final game before Thanksgiving.

For starters, Grambling State is pushing through the back end of its schedule from hell. The team posts a paltry 1-4 record through five games, but the competition has been nothing short of unfair.

The Tigers opened the season with a respectable seven-point loss to the Florida Gators which they quickly followed up with a devastating 120-46 loss to the No. 2 Baylor Bears. After opening the season 0-2, Grambling State took an 82-49 loss to another Power-5 school, Georgia Tech, before finally earning its first win of the year in a 106-42 victory over Centenary (LA). However, the Tigers’ most recent outing was an 88-54 loss to UT-Arlington, giving them an overall record of 1-4.

Heading into the 2019-20 season, Grambling State was only predicted to finish sixth out of 10 teams from the Southwestern Alatanic Conference (SWAC) and had zero players selected to the Preseason All-SWAC 1st or 2nd teams.

Grambling State is led by head coach Freddie Murray, who is currently in his fourth season at the helm for the Tigers. Murray has found success during his short time with the program, leading them to an NCAA Tournament appearence two seasons ago which included the team’s first SWAC Championship since 1999. Murray holds an overall record of 55-49 with the Tigers.

Grambling State made college basketball headlines two seasons ago after Shakyla Hill became just the fourth player Division I women’s basketball player to record a quadruple-double. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Hill – along with Jazym Boyd – both graduated last year after helping guide Grambling State to one of its best seasons in program history. Hill and Boyd were the team’s two leading scorers last season at 18.9 and 12.8 points per game, respectively, and the only two that averaged over double-figures in scoring.

With that veteran leadership gone – along with a third senior who averaged nearly 20 minutes per game a year ago – Grambling State is now pioneered by two juniors and a sophomore, all of whom played significant roles in 2018-19.

Candice Parramore, Justice Coleman, and Brandi Washington are all guards under 6-feet tall that average over 10 points per game for the Tigers. Coleman leads the team at nearly 15 points per game with an efficient mark of 45.8 percent shooting from the field and an 8-16 mark from beyond the arc. Parramore and Coleman have already combined for 59 three-point attempts, connecting on 21 of them for a tidy 35 percent clip. Outside of those three, Grambling State should not pose much of a threat to the Wildcats.

Against significantly superior opponents, Grambling State has understandably struggled to put up favorable numbers. They average nearly 20 turnovers per game and are being destroyed on the boards by an average of 15.6 rebounds per contest. The Tigers’ five-most played rotational figures all stand below 6-feet tall, which should dramatically favor the Wildcats, who have been much improved on the glass and actually post some of the best offensive rebounding numbers in the country. Four of Kentucky’s key players are 6-foot or taller.

The Tigers post a scoring margin of minus-40.5 in its four losses, which would rank dead last in the entire country, according to Her Hoop Stats.

Incredibly stout competition has negatively swayed the stats for Grambling State, but they’ve been outplayed in nearly every area this season. The only note I can confidently say about the Lady Tigers is that they like to take a ton of shots from three. Their 107 attempts from the perimeter are among one of the top numbers in the nation for teams that have played just five games. Against a Kentucky team that will look to turn them over and push the momentum, I would expect the Tigers to chuck up a ton of early-shot clock three-pointers.

Kentucky has only been matched up against Grambling State one other time – a 109-46 win back in Memorial Colisuem during December of 2013. The Wildcats hold a perfect all-time record of 15-0 against teams that currently make up the SWAC.

Just a few more hours until tipoff.

Article written by Zack Geoghegan

Covering all things NBA and UK Hoops. Follow me on Twitter: @ZGeogheganKSR