After receiving a serious drubbing from Alabama Tuesday night, the LSU men’s basketball team (10-3, 5-2) gets its shot at cleansing its palette against the Kentucky Wildcats inside the famed Rupp Arena.
This is an unusual LSU-Kentucky basketball game in that the Tigers are the team near the top of the SEC while the Cats own a middling 4-9 record and have lost three straight. It’s by far and away Coach Cal’s worst record since coming to Lexington and Big Blue is staring down its first losing season since the 1988-89 season.
Star freshmen have been commonplace at Kentucky, especially since Calipari took the reins. This year’s edition is Brandon Boston Jr., a consensus top-five player in the 2020 class. Boston is listed as a two-guard but considering his 6’7” frame he projects more like a small forward at the NBA. He’s compared to current New Orleans Pelicans All-Star Brandon Ingram on 247.
Boston leads Kentucky in scoring with 12 points a game, but has so far struggled from three, shooting a paltry 16 percent. But Boston uses his length well and is grabbing about five rebounds a game. Expect to see Mwani Wilkinson draw Boston on the defensive end.
But the player I’d keep my eye on for Kentucky is senior center Olivier Sarr, a 7’0” center who transferred from Wake Forest. Sarr is the type of big body that has killed LSU this season due to the Tigers lacking a real presence in the post. But maybe that changes now that Shareef O’Neal is back playing for LSU after injuring his foot.
For whatever reason, Kentucky struggles to score ranking 242nd nationally in points per game. The number to watch for in this game is 65. Kentucky is 0-9 when held under 65 points, but 4-0 when they surpass it. Defense had been a strength for LSU of late, that was until Alabama burned that trend to ground with its 23 threes. Hopefully LSU will have a renewed focus on defense and won’t run into literally the best shooting night from three in conference history.