For those who reside outside of the Bluegrass State on paper, the Kentucky basketball hosting Bellarmine would seem irrelevant, but those in the state know how fans have craved the instate games and the Knights should prove to be a test for the Wildcats.
Kentucky (4-2) has been off for 6 days after failing to show up in an 88-72 loss to Gonzaga and then thumping North Florida 96-56. UK has walloped lesser competition but struggled in losses to the Zags and Michigan State 86-77 in double overtime.
They head to London, England after tonight’s game to play Michigan on Sunday, but coach John Calipari and the Wildcats can’t overlook Bellarmine whose disciplined slow play drives teams crazy and puts scares into them.
Bellarmine (2-5) is coached by Scott Davenport, one of most tenured and loved coaches in Louisville from his days coaching Ballard High School, to working with Denny Crum and Rick Pitino at Louisville and now with the Knights.
You truly won’t find a coach besides Davenport who is afraid to put his “David” teams up against Goliath teams night after night any place at any time. In fact of the Knights; seven games, this season all have been on the road except for one game at Knights Hall.
In the past two weeks, the Knights have traveled over 5,000 miles playing at Clemson, No. 8 Duke, Loyola Marymount, and on Sunday night at No. 19 UCLA falling 81-60. They opened the season by beating Louisville at the KFC Yum Center claiming the honor of best of the Louisville teams.
Bellarmine had to play the Bruins without Juston Betz, Nick Thelen, and Zac Jennings who all sat out after sustaining injuries in a Saturday practice.
Betz had started the first six games and is the Knights’ leader in assists (3.2) and rebounds (5.3). Freshman guard Peter Suder leads the Knights in scoring with 11 points a game and pulls down 3.9 boards.
Seniors Garrett Tipton and Bash Wieland aid the balanced Bellarmine scoring 9.7 and 9.3 points per game respectively.
Davenport has always run his offenses with tons of crisp passing that many times never see a ball touch the court eating up nearly all of the shot clock. They traditionally don’t take poor shots and communicate well, but the one thing that hurts them is size and rebounding.
Kentucky averages 43.2 rebounds per game, good enough for seventh in the country while the Knights are the seventh-worst rebounding team, pulling down just 29.0 per contest.
Oscar Tshiebwe, Jacob Toppin, Cason Wallace, and the rest of the Wildcats should have little difficulty in snaring a lot of rebounds.
Tshiebwe leads the Cats with 16 points and 13.8 rebounds a game; Antonio Reeves chips in 13.8 points a game; Toppin 12.8 points and 7.5 rebounds while Wallace adds 11.8 points, 3.5 boards, 29 assists and has 18 steals on the year. Sahvir Wheeler running the offense is pumping in 9.0 points and handing out 6.6. assists a game.
Kentucky would like to play more up-tempo and find a way to get its offense on track and rolling.
However, it’s on offense where Bellarmine will lull defenses into missed assignments as one of the slowest teams in the country, averaging a mere 62.3 possessions per game while opponents get off just 63.8 shot attempts but only 43.4 percent find their mark and 36.0 from behind the arc.
Calipari noted on the call in show that his team has been working on zone defense this week. A rarity for Calipari-coached teams.
Tale of the Tape matchup
Points 87.2 64.3
Points allowed 68.0 69.3
FG % 47.1 44.1
Opp. FG % 38.1 43.4
Rebounds 42.2 29.0
Assists 19.7 13.4
Turnovers 11.8 11.7
Forced turnovers 15.2 11.1
Blocks 7.0 2.6
Steals 9.5 6.1
Kentucky basketball vs Bellarmine Odds and Betting
Kentucky basketball is a 22.5-point favorite according to FanDuel. The over/under has been set at 139.5 points and the Moneyline has Kentucky at -10,000 and Bellarmine at +2,800.
Kentucky vs Bellarmine Prediction Today
These two teams haven’t met previously.
KenPom has Kentucky winning 81-56 with the Wildcats having a 99 percent chance to win. The ESPN Predictor has Kentucky with a 95.9 percent shot of winning.
Wildcat Blue Nation staff prediction
Kentucky 83, Bellarmine 63
What Channel is the Kentucky Basketball Game On
Today’s game will be on the SEC+ Networks so you have to be able to stream the game since it will NOT be on traditional tv with tipoff set for 7:30 PM EST. In order to access SEC Network+, you must be an SEC Network or ESPN+ subscriber.
Kentucky versus Bellarmine 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 will pack up the uniforms, balls, and passports as it heads across the pond to London where the Wildcats will play Michigan at 1 PM EST on Sunday on ABC. Here’s a look at their schedule for the following five games.
December 10 Yale 1 PM SEC Network.
December 17 UCLA 5:15 PM CBS
December 28 at Missouri 7 PM SEC Network