Kentucky’s men’s basketball team took care of business at home.
After a loss to Duke in the Champions Classic on the opening night of the season, the No. 10 ranked Wildcats were faced with a seven-game homestand at Rupp Arena against mid-major opponents. After Tuesday’s 76-64 win over Southern, Kentucky wrapped it up at 7-0.
Now the Wildcats (7-1) will hit the road again, making the trip up to South Bend to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (3-4).
The seven-game winning streak has given the Wildcats some early momentum, but it has not been without some hiccups and tough stretches. In Tuesday’s win over Southern, Kentucky found itself in a back-and-forth game for most of the first half, keeping the lowly Jaguars in the game with 15 turnovers and nine missed free throws. A second-half run finally created some separation on the scoreboard, but head coach John Calipari knew it was an uneven win.
“My kids are not machines and they’re not computers,” Calipari said after the Southern game. “They don’t play great every night. I’m not feeling good, so I imagine a couple of those guys aren’t feeling good. But you’ve got to give Southern credit for how they played. And what I said yesterday on the radio, all the tapes I watched, they never stopped playing. It didn’t matter what the score was, just like today.”
On the other side of the court from the Wildcats will be a Notre Dame team just trying to stop the bleeding. While Kentucky has been at home for seven consecutive games, Notre Dame will be playing its first home game in 25 days after five games away from South Bend.
After a promising 3-1 start that included one win in the Maui Invitational, the Fighting Irish have lost three consecutive games. One of those games was against another SEC opponent in a 73-67 defeat against Texas A&M, and most recently Mike Brey’s team suffered a 73-57 loss in the opening game of ACC play at Boston College.
“I’m going to give a lot of credit to Boston College,” Brey said after the loss. “I thought they came out, punched us in the mouth, crushed us on the backboard and we never really recovered. They played great.”
That rebounding discrepancy was one of the major reasons the Fighting Irish never managed to get back in the game against the Eagles, losing the battle on the boards 38-27 and never finding a way to close within 11 points after halftime. Defensive struggles have also been a concern for Brey, who has now seen his team allow 70+ points in its last three games.
“We’ve got to go back to the drawing board before we play again,” Brey said. “We play a pretty good team on Saturday. Our schedule, it’s not like we can hang our heads; it’s coming fast.”
The two schools met once last season, a game Kentucky won 64-63. Tip-off is set for 5:15 PM on Saturday.
–Field Level Media