The Kentucky Wildcats have come a long way since their opening-night loss to the Duke Blue Devils. While John Calipari’s squad fell 118-84 in that game, they’ve lost just twice since and have reeled off five-straight victories heading into Saturday night. After back-to-back wins over top-25 teams in the Auburn Tigers and Mississippi State Bulldogs, the No. 8 ranked Wildcats face the No. 9 Kansas Jayhawks in a high-profile midseason matchup.
While Kentucky enters this game with a 15-3 record, Kansas sits at 16-3, but have lost twice in the past six games, both on the road. With this game being played at Rupp Arena, it makes for an even tougher matchup for the Jayhawks. The rivalry between these two teams goes back far beyond 2011, but since that point, they’ve met six times, and both teams have been ranked at the time they played.
As Big Blue History shows, that stretch has featured an even split with both teams winning three times. The first three games since 2011 all went to Kansas while Kentucky has taken the most recent trio.
Let’s take a look at the roster and starting lineup for Kentucky ahead of the marquee Saturday night matchup and also evaluate the rising NBA draft stock of Tyler Herro.
Kentucky Roster & Starting Lineup vs. Kansas
|Forward||PJ Washington||EJ Montgomery||Zan Payne|
|Forward||Reid Travis||Nick Richards|
|Guard||Tyler Herro||Jonny David|
|Guard||Ashton Hagans||Jemarl Baker Jr.|
|Guard||Keldon Johnson||Immanuel Quickley||Brad Calipari|
The Wildcats run a short bench and their roster features just two seniors in Reid Travis (graduate student) and Jonny David. Of the starting group, which is made up of all freshmen and one sophomore in PJ Washington, they’ve all averaged 25.2 minutes per game or more. Beyond the first five, only two players currently average more than 11.5 minutes in Immanuel Quickley and EJ Montgomery.
Quade Green began the year on the Wildcats roster but transferred in December, leaving the team with one less player who was receiving a fair number of minutes. Over the span of Kentucky’s last two wins, only Quickley and Montgomery received more than 10 minutes of playing time off the bench.
Tyler Herro’s NBA Draft Stock Quickly Rising
The talented freshman had plenty of hype surrounding him entering the program right out of the gate, and looked decent against Duke in the opener. Even in the lopsided loss, Herro played 34 minutes and scored 14 points with nine rebounds, five assists and two blocks. He struggled from beyond the arc in that game, which hasn’t been the case for the most part since.
In the last two games, Herro has scored 38 total points with eight rebounds and five assists while shooting 50 percent from the field and 66.7 percent from deep. Herro’s play all season has led to hype building around his NBA draft stock.
In the Sports Illustrated top 80 rankings for NBA draft prospects in January, Herro has seen his outlook continue to climb. He currently sits at No. 34, a nine-spot jump from the previous rankings. Herro has shown exceptional range as a shooter, and while his defense needs some work, his latest run points to a solid outlook moving forward and plenty of upside.