Written By: Michael McCarty/@mick_mccarty
#10 Kentucky vs North Dakota
Kentucky has an easier opponent on Wednesday night as they face the North Dakota Fighting Hawks. The Hawks finished last season 12-20 and lost their two leading scorers. Their leading scorer from last season used the Grad Transfer rule to go to Gonzaga, which has to be disheartening for this roster. Having dropped eight spots in the polls UK is looking to have a better week this week. I expect to see some improvement especially on the offensive side of the ball.
North Dakota is a team that likes to get up and down the court. They scored an average of 84 points per game last season and although they lost their two leading scorers the starters that they did return are all juniors and seniors. Cortez Seales, Connor Avants, and Kienan Walter provide the upper classman leadership that has historically given Cals young UK teams trouble early in the season. After two games this season some of their best contributions are coming from freshmen. Elijah Hazekamp, Aanen Moody, and Ethan Igbanugo have made a quick impact making this a unique match up for the Cats. The underrated freshmen for North Dakota will most likely come out trying to make a statement that they are as good as the blue chip UK freshmen. The Hawks have shot 40% from behind the arc so far this season and I would expect nothing else from a team coming into Rupp looking for the upset. Kentucky has also looked beatable this season so far so I don’t think the Hawks will come in intimidated.
Kentucky on the other hand will have the advantage at every position. I expect Kentucky to have better point guard play. It will be much improved over last week but they will still turn the ball over a lot. The UK bigs should be able to dominate this team on the inside. I expect a big game from both Travis and Richards. If Kentucky comes out shooting the ball well this one could get out of hand by early in the second half. If they struggle shooting again this will be another one of those way too close until the last five minutes type of games. Don’t be surprised if Keldon Johnson has another spectacular game. North Dakota does not have a player that will be able to contain him. Kentucky will allow North Dakota to score a lot of points because there are some defensive issues and those wont be fixed this quickly.
Kentucky is going to win this game easier than our last. I don’t expect our shooting to be lights out so this wont be a blow out but it shouldn’t make any fans nervous either. Look for the Travis, Richards, and Johnson to dominate this game. Tyler Herro will shoot well but we still wont quite get Bahamas Tyler. Kentucky will win 89-70.