No. 19 Kentucky on the rebound against Utah
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LEXINGTON, Ky. -- No. 19 Kentucky, which plummeted 10 spots in the latest Associated Press rankings after an overtime loss to Seton Hall last weekend, looks to get back on track when Utah visits Rupp Arena on Saturday.
Kentucky (7-2) lost 84-83 in overtime to Seton Hall at Madison Square Garden in New York. Both of the Wildcats' losses have been on the road. They are 7-0 at home.
Utah (4-4) has defeated Maine, Mississippi Valley State, Grand Canyon and Tulsa but lost to Minnesota, Hawaii, Northwestern and BYU. All four losses have been by nine points or more.
"They're big. They're really big," Kentucky coach John Calipari said Friday. "They run good stuff. They space the court. They play kind of a matchup zone that's interesting. Sometimes they'll stay in it, sometimes they'll go man.
"So they'll do some stuff that you'll have with teams you've got to look at and say, 'OK, let's make sure we cover this.' Because again, I tried to send some guys on that mission and have those six-year guys, but I don't. I've got young guys so you must cover some of that stuff with them, which we didn't have."
This will be the 11th meeting between Kentucky and Utah with the Wildcats owning the series of late. UK has won seven in a row, six of which came during NCAA Tournament play. The most notable was a 78-69 victory by Kentucky for the 1998 NCAA championship.
Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak, who actually at the 1998 Final Four as an assistant with Stanford, says a two-decade-old event will have no impact on Saturday's meeting.
"No disrespect to the past, I love the tradition and seeing the photos from the Final Four and knowing all of the history," Krystkowiak said. "We've always talked about the three different elements that are really important in your program and the past is one third of that.
"So when people hear that I'm not talking about that, that's no disrespect to that era, but that has nothing to do with it. I think it's been 42 years since the Utes have beat them. So it's a whole different category and we've got far bigger fish to fry and issues to deal with than any past history."
When the game tips off, Kentucky will be without sophomore point guard Quade Green, who announced that he's transferring immediately.
Green ranked fifth in scoring at 8.8 points per game but had seen his time diminish this season with the development of freshmen point guards Immanuel Quickley and Ashton Hagans. Green played only 10 minutes in the overtime loss to Seton Hall and had 21 assists and 21 turnovers for the season.
"He felt that he was an in a situation that he didn't see he could come back from," Calipari said Friday. "He's a great kid. Met with mom and dad, and mom was crying. It is disappointing for me when young people want to leave, but he'll be treated the same way.
"I told he and his family, 'I'm going to be here for you, but this next choice is probably bigger than the last choice. You've got to think it through and how you want to play.' So it was a talk. We were in there for a little while. He hugged me and said, 'I love you, Coach,' and I said, 'I love you, too.'"
Kentucky has four players averaging in double figures. Guards Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro average 15.2 and 11.6, respectively. Big men Reid Travis and PJ Washington check in at 14.4 and 14.0.
Through nine games, Kentucky still ranks as one of the nation's top rebounding teams at 41.3 while allowing just 26.0, a 15.3 differential.
Utah averages just 72.6 points per game and has only two players in double figures -- Sedrick Barefield at 14.0 points per game and Donnie Tillman at 11.4.
"It's something that we've talked about, our program, getting to a place that's certainly one of the blue bloods and leads the country in attendance," Krystkowiak said. "It's going to be an unbelievable environment."
Updated December 14, 2018