It’s a battle of programs from the Bluegrass State on the college hardwood when the Ohio Valley Conference make the in-state trip to the hallowed ground of one of the SEC’s elite teams. The Eastern Kentucky Colonels are on the road as they travel to face the #2 Kentucky Wildcats Friday night. Eastern Kentucky opened their season with a 79-68 victory at home over Chattanooga Tuesday night. Kentucky opened their season with a 69-62 win over #1 Michigan State in the State Farm Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden Tuesday night. The Wildcats have won each of the 11 previous meetings between the teams, including an 88-67 home win in the last matchup on December 9, 2015.
Eastern Kentucky Colonels Seek Massive UpsetEastern Kentucky opened their season on a positive note as they took care of Chattanooga at home Tuesday night. The Colonels now face a much stiffer opponent in the Wildcats, in the famed Rupp Arena no less. Eastern Kentucky trailed by five at the half after giving up a tip-in just before the halftime buzzer. The Colonels regrouped at intermission, storming out of the locker room with a 15-0 run to lead 48-38. Their lead didn’t drop below six the rest of the way as they went on to the victory. Eastern Kentucky shot 51.9 percent from the floor, including six of 14 from three-point range, and knocked down 19 of 25 free throws in the win.
The Colonels were led by Houston King, who put up 19 points in the victory. Darius Hicks posted a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds while Jomaru Brown added 14 points in the contest before fouling out. Eastern Kentucky can ill afford to be as sloppy in this one as they were against the Mocs: they turned the ball over 24 times and committed 21 fouls in the contest. On the plus side, the Colonels held Chattanooga to 32.4 percent shooting from the floor and forced 20 turnovers by the Mocs in the game.
Kentucky Wildcats Try to Avoid Letdown in Home OpenerKentucky took care of #1 Michigan State in the State Farm Champions Classic as John Calipari’s latest crop of young guys did the job even with the blinding spotlight of a national TV game in the Big Apple. Kentucky led 25-23 with 4:22 to play in the first half before closing the half on a 9-1 run to lead by 10 at the half. The Wildcats led by as many as 13 midway through the second half only to see Michigan State storm back. Kentucky led only 62-60 with 1:27 to play before closing the game on a 7-2 run to seal the victory. The Wildcats shot only 38 percent from the field, including six of 18 from three-point range, but did their damage at the free throw line. Kentucky cashed in 25 of 32 free throw attempts while Michigan State was 13 of 18 in the game.
Calipari’s latest freshman sensation, Tyrese Maxey, came off the bench to lead Kentucky with 26 points and five rebounds. His three-pointer with a minute to play in regulation extended the Wildcats’ lead from two to five and helped them lock up the victory. Ashton Hagans contributed 11 points while Immanuel Quickley added 10 points and five rebounds. Nick Richards had seven off the bench before fouling out as Calipari went nine deep in his rotation, which is a deviation from recent seasons when it was a surprise for him to go beyond seven or eight deep.
The top trends for this game according to Covers.com
- Colonels are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 Friday games
- Colonels are 1-6-2 ATS in their last 9 games following an ATS win
- Colonels are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 road games
- Wildcats are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 non-conference games
- Wildcats are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 home games
- Wildcats are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall