One week has been too long for Kentucky to have to wait for the
chance to avenge its first loss.
The third-ranked Wildcats will be eager to bounce back as they
try to continue their dominance over Chattanooga on Saturday night
at Rupp Arena.
Winners of its first eight games and owner of the nation’s No. 1
ranking, Kentucky was upset 73-72 at Indiana last Saturday.
“Any time you lose you just want to go out there and play again
just to get that win,” freshman center Anthony Davis said. “We had
the whole week off, we practiced every day, went hard.”
Coach John Calipari used that down time to make sure his young
squad tightened up some loose ends that left the Wildcats
vulnerable against the Hoosiers.
Kentucky shot 55.6 percent but made just two of its season-low
seven 3-point attempts. The Wildcats also went 10 of 17 from the
free-throw line, turned the ball over 17 times and relaxed
defensively on the perimeter enough to allow Christian Watford to
hit the game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“We’re upset that we lost that way and the fact that we lost,”
Davis said. “A lot of guys have been, before practice and after
practice, putting in extra work.
“The target’s on our back. Everybody wants to beat us. We’ve got
to be prepared for it.”
Averaging 11.6 points, Davis was held to six points Saturday
while battling foul trouble after he totaled just seven in a 73-72
win over North Carolina on Dec. 3.
Teammate Terrence Jones averages 13.8 points and 6.8 rebounds,
but the 6-foot-9 sophomore had a season-low four points while
attempting just three shots against the Hoosiers. He also committed
six turnovers and grabbed one rebound.
“He can’t do that again,” Calipari said. “He’s a good kid and he
had a bad game for whatever reason.”
Jones and Davis have a good chance to bounce back while the
Wildcats try to improve to 12-0 against Chattanooga (3-7). This
contest opens a favorable home stretch for Kentucky that follows
with games against Samford, Loyola (MD) and Lamar before facing
fourth-ranked Louisville on New Year’s Eve.
“We’ll see (if they’re ready), there are always the drags after
a game like last week so we’ll see,” Calipari told Kentucky’s
Though the Wildcats might not necessarily need him in this
contest, they should get a boost from the expected debut of
Mississippi State transfer guard Twany Beckham. The Louisville
native averaged just 2.0 points in 1 1/2 seasons for the Bulldogs
but started five games last season and is expected to provide some
key depth for the Wildcats.
“When I come into the game, I just want to bring energy and
ambition to this team,” Beckham said.
He could see some extensive minutes if the Wildcats are able to
build a big lead against a Chattanooga team that snapped a
four-game skid with a 98-48 win over Division III Spalding
University on Tuesday.
Senior guards Ricky Taylor and Omar Wattad share the team lead
at 12.2 points per game for the Mocs, who have dropped 20 in a row
against Top 25 opponents since a 75-63 win over then-No. 19
Illinois in the second round of the 1997 NCAA tournament.
Kentucky beat Chattanooga 79-63 on Dec. 5, 2006, in the schools’
most recent meeting.