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College basketball expert Mike Spector gives his prediction for the lone college basketball game involving a ranked team as the High Point Panthers visit the Kentucky Wildcats on Friday afternoon.
ANALYSIS

Kentucky vs. High Point Prediction: Will The Wildcats Cover a Big Number?

Both the High Point Panthers and Kentucky Wildcats come into this game off short rest, as each team played on Wednesday of this week. The Panthers put a scare into Michigan State, leading them by one point on the road at halftime. Is Kentucky in for a similarly tricky game against a pesky High Point team, or will the Panthers’ strong performance against the Spartans have the Wildcats on alert from the opening tip?

Kentucky vs. High Point Start Time, Where to Watch, and Odds

Date: Friday, December 31

Game Time: 12:00 pm ET

Where to Watch: SECN

Kentucky vs High Point Odds

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Kentucky vs. High Point Prediction

High Point (6-7) took advantage of a shorthanded Michigan State roster over the first 20 minutes, as the Spartans were down two starters (Max Christie and Marcus Bingham). Without two of their best players, the Spartans turned in a poor performance defensively, leaving shooters open on several possessions. Nevertheless, Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo cannot be happy with his team’s performance against a Panthers squad that started the day ranked 261st in KenPom and 285th in the NET.

Kentucky forward Oscar Tshiebwe followed a game with a career-high 28 rebounds by posting another 20-rebound performance against Missouri. He now has had four games of 20 or more rebounds this season. To put that in perspective, West Virginia, Miami, Georgia Tech, and Iowa have had games this season where they did not record 20 rebounds as a team. Tshiebwe averages an astounding 15.8 rebounds per game, which is more than six rebounds more per game than the player with the next highest average (Florida’s Colin Castleton) in the SEC.

Before their 83-point outburst against Missouri, Kentucky put 98 points on North Carolina and 95 on Western Kentucky in back-to-back games. This came after a dreadful four-point loss at Notre Dame, where they managed just 62 points, which was their worst 3-point shooting game (2-for-19) of the season. So what changed recently? Head coach John Calipari got back to the dribble-drive mentality that made him successful at Memphis and with many of his best Kentucky teams. The Wildcats can space the floor with shooters, which opens up driving lanes for their relentless guards to attack the paint. 

No Kentucky guard has been more relentless than Sahvir Wheeler, who has been outstanding in transition. Wheeler dished out nine assists in their win over Missouri and helped guys like Keion Brooks find their offense (17 points on 7-for-11 shooting) that had been missing the early part of this month. Wheeler has been much more aggressive in the half-court as well, and Calipari has done a masterful job allowing Wheeler to get a head of steam by catching the ball off weave sets. And with shooters like TyTy Washington and Kellan Grady to space the floor, if defenses collapse on Wheeler, we could be seeing a lot more 90-point outputs from Kentucky’s offense in the future.  

High Point’s successful first half against Michigan State is the best thing that could have happened to Kentucky, as Calipari will use that as motivation to avoid a letdown in this spot. In addition, with such a short turnaround between games, that favors the team with more versatility and a deeper bench, which is undoubtedly the Wildcats.

Look for Kentucky to turn in a solid performance as a tune-up to their colossal game against LSU in four days.

Kentucky vs. High Point Pick

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Mike Spector brings unmatched knowledge and insight into the game of football, and more importantly the process of betting on NFL football. Mike is the #2 ranked expert in FantasyPros' NFL betting contest

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