Kentucky Basketball: Game Preview vs Monmouth

LEXINGTON, KY - DECEMBER 02: Quade Green /

John Calipari leads his Kentucky basketball team into Madison Square Garden in New York City to do battle with the Monmouth Hawks in the inaugural Citi Hoops Classic.

The Kentucky basketball team, ranked No. 8 in the AP Poll, travel to New York City to take on the Monmouth Hawks of the MAAC. This is the inaugural Citi Hoops Classic and will be played at historic Madison Square Garden.

When the game was announced in August, coach Calipari was quoted in a statement by Newsday saying, “This is a great opportunity to play a strong and up and coming team in a historic venue.” Madison Square Garden, or MSG as it’s often referred to, is one of  the oldest arenas in the nation. MSG will host the Big Ten this year for the first time in its history.

Kentucky enters Saturday’s game on a 5-game winning streak after defeating Harvard last Saturday 79-70. The seven days in between contests represents the longest stretch of days off Kentucky has had this season. Will they come out rusty or well rested?

Kentucky freshmen Kevin Knox, Quade Green and Hamidou Diallo are all averaging double figures in scoring. Fellow freshman Nick Richards has come on as of late. Richards has seen his minutes increase as well as his scoring. In the past 3 games Richards has averaged 22.6 minutes, 15 points and 8.3 rebounds. Richards had been averaging 14.6 minutes and 4.8 points before his performance against Fort Wayne.

Monmouth Hawks

Monmouth is coming off a 1-point loss to Hofstra on Wednesday night. King Rice, a former point guard for the North Carolina Tar Heels, is the head coach for the Hawks. King has been the coach at Monmouth since 2011 and has led them to two straight MAAC regular season championships.

At 3-6, Monmouth has gotten off to a rough start this season. However, they have played tough competition going on the road to play Virginia, Seton Hall and Connecticut. With the exception of a 73-53 loss at Virginia, the Hawks have been close in every game, including two overtime losses.

The Hawks are led in scoring by junior guard Micah Seaborn. Seaborn is averaging 16.7 points per game and shooting 50% from 3-point territory. Collectively Monmouth is shooting 38% from behind the arc, jacking up about 20 three-pointers per game.

The Cats are looking for a tune-up before welcoming Virginia Tech to Rupp Arena next Saturday. Tip time for the Citi Hoops Classic is at noon on Saturday, December 9th and it will be televised on ESPNU.