- Same starting lineup from Seton Hall (December 8) onward: Hagans/Herro/Johnson/Washington/Travis.
- Nick Richards started a pair of games in November and was consistently playing about 9-15 minutes for most of January, but has played a total of 26 minutes in his last four games. Unless they’re desperate, Kentucky likely won’t play him much, as he commits 7 fouls per 40 and can only shoot at the rim.
- Quickley will get around 15-20 minutes in this one at multiple positions.
- In Kentucky’s ideal world, all five starters get 30+ minutes in this one. They really do not want to have to play Richards, and even playing Montgomery is tough because he doesn’t bring much offensively.
- I’m very interested to see what Barnes does when Kentucky brings in Montgomery. Because Montgomery is a big guy that doesn’t move fast, the 4.5 Shooters Lineup (Bowden/Schofield/Williams at SF/PF/C) could be a really intriguing move.
- Also interesting: how much does Yves Pons play? In theory, his body and his past history playing quality defense against both Louisville and Gonzaga would make him a great 12-15 minute candidate. However, he’s been somewhere between bad and terrible defending threes this year, and Keldon Johnson would have a big matchup advantage on him.
- The alternate is Jalen Johnson, who I think is getting better defensively but it could just be a few good plays all at once. Barnes may play both 4 minutes and be done with it.
- 11th straight game where Fulkerson had more minutes than Walker; you will not see anything change there unless Fulkerson is getting cooked defensively.
Grant Williams/Admiral Schofield vs. PJ Washington. Either of them could draw the matchup here, so I don’t really know who to favor. Regardless, these are the three best players in the SEC this year going up against one another. It’s pretty ideal, but Williams really needs an excellent game to both drag Tennessee across the finish line and to shut down the baffling Washington SEC POY talk.
Lamonte Turner/Jordan Bowden vs. Tyler Herro. Turner was kind of brutal defending the perimeter against South Carolina’s suddenly-hot shooters. He cannot play the same way against Herro, who can create his own shot in limited space and is unafraid to take as many shots as he wants. It’s a good matchup, but Turner needs to up his level of play.
Jordan Bone vs. Ashton Hagans. Scout types think Hagans is the best perimeter defender on Kentucky’s team, and Value Add Basketball backs it up, placing him as the second-best defender on the roster. Bone cannot commit more than one turnover in this game if Tennessee wants to win.
Kentucky 74 –
Tennessee 74, Kentucky 73. In all seriousness, Tennessee has the best player in this game, the best offense, and the two best offensive players. This game is a pure coin flip, and will absolutely be decided by a poorly-timed foul somewhere. Fingers crossed it’s Washington committing that foul on Williams with a few seconds to go.