UNC Greensboro worries No. 10 Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- No. 10 Kentucky (6-1) will play its seventh home game in a row on Saturday afternoon, hoping to win them all when UNC Greensboro comes to Rupp Arena.

But coach John Calipari understands this will be the most difficult game in the homestand.

"Greensboro is really good, by the way, had LSU on the ropes at LSU," Calipari said. "This will be a hard game for us."

UNC Greensboro, which gave Gonzaga fits in last season's NCAA Tournament opener, is coming off a 27-8 season. This year, the Spartans are 7-1 with their only loss being a 97-91 defeat at LSU, which was ranked 23rd at the time.

Seniors guards Francis Alonso and Demetrius Troy lead UNC-Greensboro. Alonso averages a team-best 19 points per game while shooting 54.3 percent, including 46.2 from 3-point range. Troy averages 8.4 points and leads the team with 33 assists.

As a team, UNC Greensboro shoots 53.5 percent, which puts them at No. 4 in the nation. The Spartans also average 87.6 points a game, which ranks 16th nationally and is 13 spots better than Kentucky at 85.3

"To be honest with you, I believe we're playing an NCAA (Tournament) team," Kentucky associate head coach Kenny Payne said Friday. "We're playing a tournament team that is very capable of beating us."

Kentucky is coming off its best game since the blowout loss to Duke to open the season. The Wildcats made 10 3-pointers en route to a 90-44 rout of Monmouth on Wednesday.

"We will have to play with the same intensity that we played this last game with and be energetic and athletic and focused on defense for long stretches because they don't make many mistakes," Payne said. "They are really good at shooting the ball. They're really good at passing the ball. And a true test of being an excellent offensive team is a good passing team. They are a good passing team. Their guard play is really good. Again, we're playing an NCAA Tournament team."

UNC Greensboro will have to contend with the nation's No. 1 team in terms of rebounding margin. The Wildcats are at plus-16.9, averaging 41 and allowing only 24.1.

Kentucky has four players averaging in double figures scoring, topped by Keldon Johnson at 16.3 points. Big men Reid Travis and PJ Washington are at 13.6 and 12.6, respectively, and Tyler Herro is at 10.9.

"We're honest about it, we're all excited about this game," UNCG coach Wes Miller said. "We try to treat every game the same and every opponent the same. But it is different. I told the guys in the locker room, if your juices don't get flowing a little extra for a game like Kentucky, you probably don't have any juices."

Copyright 2018 by STATS. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS is strictly prohibited.

Our Latest Stories