Kentucky men host Mizzou in SEC home opener
Kentucky begins the Southeastern Conference portion of its schedule on Wednesday night when the Cats host Missouri at Rupp Arena.
Since falling at Notre Dame on Dec. 11, Kentucky has had two outstanding performances. On Dec. 18, Kentucky pounded North Carolina 98-69 in Las
Vegas behind 26 points and eight assists from Sahvir Wheeler. Then, on Dec. 22, Oscar Tshiebwe scored 14 points and grabbed a Rupp Arena record 28 rebounds as the Cats rolled past Western Kentucky 95-60.
Kentucky has had great balance on offense all season. Five Cats are currently averaging double figures in scoring.
Tshiebwe leads the way, scoring 16.1 points and grabbing 15.5 boards per game. TyTy Washington Jr. is second on the team, averaging 13.9 points per outing. Kellan Grady (11.2 ppg), Wheeler (11.0) and Keion Brooks Jr. (10.9) are also double-figure scorers for UK.
While those players are all major contributors, UK head coach John Calipari is still tinkering with his rotation, which he says is not set at this point in the season.
"No. I don't, and I think we're one of those teams—like, without Lance (Ware) in the North Carolina game in that first half, we're probably
down, and maybe it's a different game," Calipari said. "So, Lance has a role. But there are times we want to throw a guy in that's going to get lobs and dunks and blocks. Well, that wouldn't be Lance, so maybe it's Daimion (Collins). I would say there are times that we're trying to bring Bryce (Hopkins) along so he can be that car crash, so he can get
to the free-throw line, give us one more physical body out there."
Missouri is 6-6 on the season. The Tigers have lost two of their last three games. Most recently, Missouri lost to Illinois 88-63 in St. Louis. The Tigers beat Utah in Columbia on Dec. 18 after being blown out by Kansas, 102-65, on Dec. 11.
Junior forward Kobe Brown leads Missouri in scoring, rebounding and assists, averaging 14.8 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists. Junior guard Amari Davis is the only other Missouri player averaging in double figures, scoring 10.4 points per game.
The Tigers are likely to be without head coach Cuonzo Martin, who tested positive for COVID-19. Assistant coach Cornell Mann is expected to lead
Missouri on Wednesday. However, Calipari knows the Tigers will be tough.
"Their team always plays hard. Plays physical. They rebound," Calipari said. "They're plus in the rebounding column. They shoot the ball. They
go get rebounds. They drive it. They're physically playing through bumps. It's the kind of team that gives us trouble. So, it's going to be a hard game for us."