Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#759 Evansville vs.
#760 Kentucky
Tuesday, November 12, 2019 at 7:00pm EST
Written by Chris Altruda

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#759 University of Evansville
#760 University of Kentucky
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Evansville at No. 1 Kentucky

When and Where: Tuesday, Nov. 12, Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky., 7 p.m. EST.

Having quickly grabbed the No. 1 spot in The AP Top 25 poll by knocking off the preseason No. 1, Kentucky looks to protect its new-found status starting with Tuesday night's game versus Evansville at Rupp Arena.

Aces seek full 40-minute effort in titanic challenge

Evansville's 79-75 victory over Ball State on Saturday was a classic tale of two distinctly different halves. The Aces bolted to a 40-18 halftime lead and led by as many as 25 points in the second half before the Cardinals came storming back.

The Aces nearly squandered a 10-point lead in the final 3:11, giving Ball State a chance to take the lead in the final seconds. But Evansville defense tightened and coaxed a missed 3-pointer before hitting four free throws down the stretch.

"We played well for 20 minutes, but in the second half, we took our foot off the pedal," guard K.J. Riley told Evansville's official website. "We knew the only way they could come back was by shooting 3's and that is what they did.

"We know that if we play like we did in the first half, we can play with anyone. We just have to keep it up."

DeAndre Williams had a spectacular Aces debut with 26 points, nine rebounds, and three assists while hitting 11 of 14 shots.

The game figures to be an interesting homecoming for second-year Aces coach Walter McCarty, who was a central figure during Kentucky's dominance in the mid-1990s and helped the Wildcats win the 1996 NCAA Tournament.

“When I look back to where he was at then to where he is now, he’s tailor-made for being an exceptional coach,” former Kentucky teammate Tony Delk told the Evansville Courier and Press. “He saw the game from a point guard, shooting guard and wing player’s perspective, and that’s something most bigs don’t see.”

This is Evansville's third game against a No. 1 opponent in school history, having lost 105-94 to DePaul in 1980 and 91-73 to North Carolina in 2008.

'Cats back atop AP poll for first time since December 2016

On the strength of its season-opening 69-62 victory over then-No. 1 Michigan State in the Champions Classic in New York City last Tuesday and following that up with a 91-49 rout of Eastern Kentucky on Friday, the Wildcats (2-0) are the top-ranked team in the country at some point in a season for the seventh time during coach John Calipari's 11-year stint in Lexington.

Nick Richards had 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead six players in double figures against the Colonels as the Wildcats got all of their offense from seven players. Nate Sestina also had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds as Kentucky shot 54.8 percent and more than doubled up Eastern Kentucky on the boards (54-25).

Calipari said he does not expect EJ Montgomery to play in this contest as he continues to recover from an ankle injury suffered versus Michigan State. The 6-foot-10 Montgomery missed Friday's win and had four points and two rebounds in 14 minutes versus the Spartans.

Calipari is also happy to be part of McCarty's homecoming, noting at his Monday news conference that "I'm happy for him. Watching his team he's doing some good stuff. I'm always happy when we can bring back guys here, coaching teams, I think it's a great thing.

"You want them to know, in Walter's case, you won a national title here, you're part of the history of the program and he'll feel that coming back."

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After all the pomp and circumstance regarding McCarty's homecoming to Lexington, the Wildcats should live up to the duties that come with being a No. 1 team in the country.

Kentucky's defensive prowess on the perimeter should be too much for Evansville to overcome as well as what has been a balanced offense. The Aces also have lost 15 straight non-conference road games to ranked opponents dating back to the 1996-97 season and 31 of 36 such contests overall in that stretch.

Prediction: Kentucky -25 (-110)

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Calipari made a salient point about his team, especially on the defensive end. Since he has more returning players than he usually does given his ability to recruit one-and-done players, his players are the ones leading the defensive transition.

Kentucky has held both its opponents under 40 percent, including a stifling effort to keep the Colonels at 25 percent in its most recent win. With Williams the tallest player on Evansville's roster at 6-9 but also a wing player, the Aces may struggle to keep up on the offensive glass as well while Kentucky's perimeter defense extends to the arc.

Prediction: UNDER 137.5 points (-110)
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Written By Chris Altruda

A 1994 graduate of Marquette University when they were known as the Warriors and Brooklyn native, Chris Altruda is based in Chicago. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiner, he worked at three major U.S. wire services and also has prior experience in sports handicapping and daily fantasy roster building. Now that the Cubs have won a World Series, he holds out hope the Jets will win a Super Bowl before he dies. Follow Chris daily right here at W&W and on Twitter at @AlTruda73. You won’t be disappointed.