This is the one we have all been waiting for. The cross-country heavyweight battle of the college basketball world as the No. 4 Kentucky basketball team travels to Spokane to tangle with No. 2 Gonzaga.
A game long time in the making that finally came to be after some negotiating between Kentucky coach John Calipari and Zags coach Mark Few. The announcement actually came during a Kentucky telethon and open practice to raise money for flood victims in Eastern Kentucky.
Calipari took to the microphone in Rupp Arena and Few appeared on the video board in a boat while fishing to announce the six-year series.
Tonight’s game won’t be in the Zags home gym “The Kennel” but in the larger Spokane Arena with tipoff set for 7:30 PM EST on ESPN.
It will also be a battle of the two of the best players in the college game with the reigning National Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe for Kentucky and Drew Timme who will battle Oscar for that honor again this year. Two future NBA stars will be on display tonight in what should be a battle for post supremacy.
Tshiebwe is averaging 14 points and 12.5 rebounds a game while Timme is averaging 20.7 and 8.0 rebounds an outing.
While both teams are ranked in the top five currently both suffered losses last week. Kentucky fell 86-77 in double overtime to Michigan State on Tuesday before bouncing back to thrash South Carolina State 106-63 on Thursday.
Gonzaga is reeling from an unexpected 93-74 beat-down loss to Texas on Wednesday.
The defense will be the key to Kentucky’s success as Calipari has always preached. His Kentucky teams are a perfect 84-0 when keeping their opponent to 55 points or fewer and 205-9 when giving up 63 or fewer.
With the defense specialists, the Wildcats have in Cason Wallace, Chris Livingston, Sahvir Wheeler, CJ Fredrick, and Jacob Toppin they can lock down the Zags. Historically when Kentucky doesn’t allow teams to shoot better than 40 percent they are 225-24. In all three wins this season that has also been the case.
"“They are going to be a lion right now because they just lost at Texas,” Calipari said. “So they will be — this will be a hard game for us to win.”"
CJ Fredrick leads Kentucky in scoring with 14.0 points per game and is 10-25 from behind the arc. Toppin is adding 8 points and 10.3 rebounds a game but struggled against Michigan State. This game needs to be his moment to shine.
Wallace is averaging 12.3 points, and 8.5 rebounds, and has 21 assists and 13 steals for the season. Sahvir Wheeler is running an efficient offense coming off a 10-assist and zero-turnover game against S. Carolina State.
Oh and it’s Antonio Reeves’ birthday so Cal please give him some extra minutes on the floor.
Tale of the Tape matchup
Points 88.8 80.7
Points allowed 66.0 73.0
FG % 49.0 52.3
Opp. FG % 35.2 42.9
Rebounds 43.5 38.7
Assists 21.0 13.3
Turnovers 13.3 17.3
Forced turnovers 14.3 16.0
Blocks 8.3 4.0
Steals 10.0 9.7
Kentucky basketball vs Gonzaga Odds and Betting
Kentucky basketball is a 3.5-point underdog according to FanDuel. The over/under has been set at 155.5 points and the Moneyline has Kentucky at +152 and Gonzaga at -184.
Kentucky vs Gonzaga Prediction Today
These two teams haven’t met since the 2002 Maui Invitational with Kentucky winning 80-72 to claim third place with Keith Bogans getting 18 points and Gerald Fitch 13 while Chuck Hayes had 11 points and 9 rebounds and Jules Camara 12 points and 8 boards.
The team had lost to Virginia and came back with a mentality not to lose another game in the islands. Kentucky will need that balanced attack and Hayes’s grittiness tonight.
KenPom is basically calling this a toss-up but does predict Gonzaga to prevail 79-78 with the Wildcats having a 45 percent chance to win. The ESPN Predictor has Kentucky with just a 26.7 percent shot of winning.
Wildcat Blue Nation staff prediction
Eric Thorne – Kentucky 79, Gonzaga 77
Tyler Reed– Kentucky 77, Gonzaga 74
Justin Tyler McMillian – Kentucky 80, Gonzaga 72
What Channel is the Kentucky Basketball Game On
Today’s game will be on ESPN with tipoff set for 7:30 PM EST.
Play-by-play Jon Sciambi
Analyst Jimmy Dykes
Kentucky versus Gonzaga Live Stream
Today’s Kentucky game can be streamed live on the SEC Network, WatchESPN and on FuboTV.
Kentucky over the airwaves:
For the radio enthusiasts, our stellar team of Tom Leach (play-by-play), Jack Givens, and Dick Gabriel (sideline) will have the call on the UK Sports Network. They can be heard at 840 AM around Louisville and in the Lexington area at both 630 AM and 98.1 FM. If you are outside these areas check your local statins or you can always listen online at www.UKAthletics.com. The game also will be carried on satellite radio: Sirius (Channel 138), XM (Channel 190), and the SiriusXM app (Channel 961).
Kentucky’s Next Game and Upcoming Schedule
Kentucky basketball returns from the west coast for a Thanksgiving Eve afternoon game against North Florida with tipoff set for 4 PM EST on the SEC+ Network. That means you will have to scramble to watch it. Here’s a look at their schedule for the following five games.
November 29 Bellarmine 7 PM TBD
December 4 Michigan in London, England 1 PM ABC
December 10 Yale 1 PM SEC Network.
December 17 UCLA 5:15 PM CBS
December 28 at Missouri 7 PM SEC Network