No. 10 Kentucky hosts Tennessee State
LEXINGTON -- No. 10 Kentucky looks to extend its win streak to five in a row on Friday night when Tennessee State visits Rupp Arena.
It will be the Wildcats' third game in six days, having secured wins over VMI on Sunday and Winthrop on Wednesday as part of the Ohio Valley Hardwood Showcase.
Coach John Calipari will be looking for ongoing improvement as the team continues to bounce back from an embarrassing 118-84 season-opening loss to Duke. The team made strides during its 87-74 win over Winthrop on Wednesday.
"The defense wasn't bad for 18 minutes in the first half. And then the last couple minutes of the first half we just let down. And then we went for five, six minutes," Calipari said. "So, this team just played 24 minutes of the way I need them to play.
"The biggest thing this team doesn't have right now is the discipline to play 40 minutes," Calipari said. "We just don't, but I'm happy it was 24 minutes. That's better than some of these games where it's 15 minutes, 12 minutes."
Kentucky (4-1) is winning games in the paint. The Wildcats are nearly doubling up opponents on the boards, holding a 42-23 average rebounding advantage. In the last three wins, UK has also won the points in the paint -- 42-24 over Winthrop, 42-14 over VMI and 46-18 over North Dakota.
Sophomore forward PJ Washington is the team's leading scorer and rebounder at 14.8 and 8.8 per game. Grad transfer Reid Travis is third at 13.8 points and 5.6 rebounds.
As a team, UK is shooting 49.5 percent, but only 34.2 from 3-point range. They also have 78 assists vs. 77 turnovers. But the biggest issue remains 3-point defense. UK is among the worst in the nation at 44.1 percent.
In Calipari's previous nine UK seasons combined, the defense is a stellar 31.1 percent. It's never been worse than 32.6 and the best mark was 27.1 percent.
"You keep drilling it and talking about it," Calipari said. "They're going to get it. You try to push it along, but they're going to get it on their terms. That's how this stuff goes."
Tennessee State (2-3) has wins over Carver and Fisk and losses to Lipscomb, Little Rock and Cal State Northridge.
Junior guard Donte Dorsey-Fitzpatrick is the leading scorer at 15 points per game. Next comes junior guards Kamar McKnight at 14 and Tripp Davis at 11.2.
The Tigers are shooting 44.8 percent, including 37.7 from 3-point range.
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