Kentucky vs. EKU: Preview, viewing info & more

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By Jamie Boggs/@jamiewboggs

Now that the seal is broken after the Champions Classic, the 2019-2020 college basketball season is officially underway.

The Kentucky Wildcats took down the No. 1 team in the country on Tuesday, showing that they they are ready for prime time basketball, even in November.

The Eastern Kentucky University Colonels are set to play every DI basketball program in the state of Kentucky this season, and Lexington is their first stop on that tour. After losing their all-time leading scorer Nick Mayo, the Colonels will look to sophomore guard Jomaru Brown to pick up the slack. Brown was a preseason All-OVC team selection and was named to the OVC All-Newcomer team after a strong freshman campaign.

EKU’s program has ebbed and flowed throughout the years, and right now they certainly seem to be headed the right direction. They took down UT-Chattanooga 79-68 to open the season on Tuesday, led in scoring by Houston King and Darius Hicks with 19 and 18 points, respectively. Coach A.W. Hamilton is coming into his second season with the Colonels, and he is looking to build on last season’s 13-18 record.

The Wildcats looked as good on defense in Madison Square Garden on Tuesday as they have looked in years, at any point of the season. John Calipari often mentioned in the preseason that he thought this team would be good defending on the ball, but their defensive rotations looked absolutely fantastic.

And after worrying about their toughness, Coach Cal saw his team take punch after punch from a physical, gritty Michigan State team and respond with their own toughness and resilience.

A major question about this particular Kentucky roster has been where the points will come from, particularly in half court success. While a single player is not always the best answer to that question, most players do not have the scoring ability of Tyrese Maxey.

Many expected him to be this team’s leading scorer leading up to the season, but he really had not shown that kind of scoring ability in any of the exhibition games.

“What I saw today was what I saw in high school,” Calipari said of Maxey’s scoring in his post game press conference. “I had not seen it before today.”

While the new AP poll will not be out yet, Kentucky is the top team in the country heading into Friday’s match-up. This will be EKU’s most high-profile opponent since facing the Kansas Jayhawks in the 2014 NCAA Tournament.

This will be a great opportunity for the Colonels to see exactly what they are made of, and it will be a good chance for the Wildcats to come back down to earth a little bit after such an incredible experience in New York on Tuesday. Tune into the SEC Network at 7 p.m. on Friday to see this fun in-state matchup.

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