The Kentucky Wildcats have won six games in a row, and they continue to grow in a variety of ways.
Immanuel Quickley and Ashton Hagans have been amazingly consistent, and even on his bad days Nick Richards finds ways to help the team. On any given day, EJ Montgomery or Tyrese Maxey could take over a game. So we have seen how dangerous they can be. But in the next two weeks, we will find out what this team is made of.
Their next opponent will be the Utah Utes in the Neon Hoops Showcase Benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer out in Las Vegas.
Utah comes into the game at 8-2 with victories over Nevada and Minnesota (who recently ran Ohio State off the floor), and they are looking for their fifth victory in a row. The Utes also have an overtime win over a top-50 KenPom team in BYU, but they have a pair of losses to Tulane and Coastal Carolina, both of whom rank outside KenPom’s top 150.
The Utes are led in points and rebounds by Timmy Allen, who averages 20.6 points and 7.4 boards per contest. The sophomore forward is not an outside shooter and does a lot of work in the paint for a 6-6 guy. He’s also a good passing big with 2.7 assists per game, though he’s not much of a shot blocker at 0.3 blocks per contest. He’s also been prone to turnovers, including a seven-turnover outing in a narrow loss to Tulane.
It will be interesting to see how Kentucky defends Allen. He is likely too big to be guarded by the Hagans, Maxey, or Quickley, and too quick for Montgomery or Richards to handle. This would be an idea matchup for Whitney if he is up to the challenge, and Keion Brooks may be an option if he continues to play as well as he has been.
On the outside, Rylan Jones, Riley Battin, and Jaxon Brenchley. The trio shoots 47.5%, 42.3%, and 42.9% from behind the three-point line, respectively. They will be looking to get hot and create space for Allen to go to work.
Kentucky should get a win over Utah, but in a game out west against a team that can get hot, anything can happen. You also have to hope the Wildcats are not looking ahead to Saturday’s opponent, Ohio State, who got caught looking ahead to Kentucky when they laid a goose egg vs. Minnesota.
Here is everything you know for what will be a very late-night Wednesday showdown in Vegas.