Previewing Kentucky

The Tar Heels are in need of a big win to spark an early season turnaround and that opportunity presents itself Saturday, as No. 10 Kentucky comes to town. Tip-off at the Smith Center is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. on CBS.

North Carolina (4-3) vs. Kentucky (5-1)
Chapel Hill, N.C. -- Dean E. Smith Center
12:30 p.m. -- CBS (Gus Johnson, Clark Kellogg)


"Knock on wood as much as you can before this game. Harrison Barnes is a very talented player. I haven't seen him play in person, just on tape. At 6-foot-7, he is a jump shooter that can create his own shots. They look for him for big shots. They will look for him on isolations, and he is a good offensive rebounder." Kentucky assistant coach John Robic

"Their length presents a big challenge. Zeller is a seven-footer who can really run. The biggest thing for our guys is going to be getting back on defensive transition. (North Carolina) does a good job of getting in an early post position and that is their first look. Everybody who has played them, forever, has focused on defensive transition. You can't allow them to have any easy baskets. You have to make their post players work and you can't give them angles to the goal." – Robic


Season to Date: No. 10 Kentucky enters Saturday's contest with a 5-1 overall record. The Wildcats defeated East Tennessee State, Portland and Boston and earned a runner-up finish in the EA Sports Maui Invitational with wins over Oklahoma (76-64) and No. 13 Washington (74-67) before falling to UConn, 84-67, in the championship game. Head coach John Calipari's second squad in Lexington was picked second behind Florida in the SEC East Division in the preseason media poll.

Freshman Leading Show… Once Again: While DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall and Eric Bledsoe are no longer donning Wildcat uniforms, Calipari's knack for recruiting has supplied his program with another threesome of standout freshmen to fill in the gaps. Forward Terrance Jones is averaging a double-double with 20.7 points and 10.2 rebounds per outing. The Portland, Ore. native's four double-doubles is tops among freshman nationally. Point guard Brandon Knight is scoring 17.3 points per game, but has coughed up more turnovers (27) than dished out assists (20). Guard Doron Lamb is coming off the bench, but stands third on the team in scoring (11.5) and is knocking down 55.0 percent of his 3-point attempts (11-of-20).

Solid on the Boards: The Wildcats boast a plus-8.2 rebounding margin through six games and have outrebounded every opponent with the exception of UConn (32-29).

Hot and Cold from Deep: After a strong 3-point shooting display against Boston – 10-of-16 – on Tuesday, Kentucky is now connecting on 41.2 percent (49-of-119) of its long range bombs this season, good enough for a top-30 nationally ranking currently. But against power conference opponents, the Wildcats have struggled behind the arc, shooting just 30.5 percent (18-of-59) against the more potent defenses that Oklahoma, Washington and Connecticut put on the court.

Straight from the Game Notes: According to Kentucky's sports information department, the Wildcats rank 337 out of 346 nationally in terms of Division I experience and represent the youngest team in any of the power conferences.

Last Meeting: Kentucky built an early 19-point lead on a 28-2 run before having to hold on for dear life as North Carolina charged back but came up short in a 68-66 loss at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky. Deon Thompson led UNC with 14 point and nine rebounds, and Will Graves added 13 points on four 3-pointers. Ed Davis contributed nine points and 10 rebounds while Tyler Zeller scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds.

Series History: North Carolina leads the all-time series with Kentucky, 21-11. The Tar Heels had won five straight before losing last season at Rupp Arena.

Projected Starters:
12 Brandon Knight (6-3, 185, Fr.) – 17.3 ppg, 3.3 apg
34 DeAndre Liggins (6-6, 210, Jr.) – 9.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg
1 Darius Miller (6-7, 228, Jr.) – 9.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg
3 Terrence Jones (6-8, 244, Fr.) – 20.7 ppg, 10.2 rpg
55 Josh Harrellson (6-10, 275, Sr.) – 5.2 ppg, 8.8 rpg

Top Reserves:
20 Doron Lamb (6-4, 195, Fr.) – 11.5 ppg, 2.3 rpg
30 Eloy Vargas (6-11, 250, Jr.) – 3.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg

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