Preseason No. 5 Kentucky concludes its exhibition portion of the schedule on Friday night, as the Wildcats host in-state rival Centre College.
The game is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on SEC Network. For those who don’t have cable or can’t get to a TV, you can watch SEC Network online via a free trial of one of the following cable-free, live-TV streaming services:
DirecTV Now: SEC Network is included in the “Just Right”, “Go Big” and “Gotta Have It” channel packages. Those range from $50 to $70 per month, but a free 7-day trial is offered, allowing you to watch tonight’s game at no cost.
Sling TV: SEC Network is included when you get the “Sling Orange” base bundle plus the “Sports Extra” add-on. It costs $25 per month, but a free 7-day trial is offered, allowing you to watch tonight’s game at no cost.
With both of the above options, you can watch SEC Network on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the company’s respective app (DirecTV Now app or Sling TV app), or you can sign in with your DirecTV Now/Sling TV credentials to watch via WatchESPN or the ESPN app.
Obviously, this game isn’t going to reveal a whole lot about John Calipari’s squad, and as an exhibition game, it has no real importance for the upcoming season. Nevertheless, it’s still a good way to get an early look at what is one of the most intriguing young teams in the country.
The ‘Cats return just one player who logged more than 100 minutes last season: Wenyen Gabriel. The 6-foot-9 stretch four showed some intriguing glimpses of stardom last year–23 and 8 against LSU; 13, 8 and 3 blocks at Mississippi State; 16 rebounds against Auburn–and finished third on the team in rebounds per 40 (11.0) and fourth in blocks per 40 (2.0). Capable of stretching the floor and providing energy on both ends, Gabriel–a veteran by this team’s standards–is a good bet to be one of Kentucky’s biggest contributors this season.
“I would say Wenyen is one of our top-three guys,” said Calipari. “His energy is unbelievable. He’s making baskets. He’s the relentless guy that I recruited… And he’s stronger. He’s probably ahead because he’s got better habits than some of the guys because he’s been here.”
Of course, as always with Kentucky, the real intrigue resides with the freshmen.
Kevin Knox, Nick Richards, Jarred Vanderbilt (currently injured), Hamidou Diallo, PJ Washington and Quade Green give the Wildcats an absurd six 5-star recruits, and all of the first five are potential first-round picks. How they gel is going to decide how Kentucky fares this season, and it will be a big storyline to watch, especially early in the year.
Another storyline to watch will be the battle for starting point guard between Green and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The latter started during Kentucky’s exhibition win over Morehead State and racked up 17 points, four assists and just one turnover in 32 minutes, while Green provided an important spark off the bench with 20 points and five dimes.
“I thought (highly of) Shai’s energy and his ability to make deflect balls and make plays,” Calipari said after the game. “And I thought that Quade, that’s the best he’s played.”
If you’re looking for something specific to watch against Centre, pay close attention to how each PG plays on Friday night.