John Calipari’s pre-LSU news conference.
Jon Hale, Louisville Courier Journal
LEXINGTON, Ky. — No. 5 Kentucky (20-3, 9-1) will try to extend its winning streak to 11 games Tuesday versus No. 21 LSU (19-4, 9-1). Here’s the information you need to know to follow the game on television, radio or online.
Time: 7 p.m., Tuesday
Where: Rupp Arena (23,500 capacity)
TV: Karl Ravech (play-by-play), Dick Vitale (analyst) and Laura Rutledge (sideline) will have the call on ESPN. That’s DirecTV 206, Dish 140, U-Verse 602/1602, FiOs 70/570 and Spectrum Cable 31/506 in Louisville, 28/506 in Lexington.
Radio: Tom Leach (play-by-play) and Mike Pratt (analyst) will have the UK radio network call on 840 AM in Louisville and both 630 AM and 98.1 FM in Lexington or online at UKAthletics.com.
Live stream: Eligible subscribers can stream the game at WatchESPN.
Betting line: Kentucky favored by 8.5 points (as of Monday Feb. 11).
Series history: UK leads 89-26.
Best versus the best: Kentucky’s schedule has featured several difficult stretches this season, including back-to-back games against North Carolina and Louisville in December and three straight against ranked squads Auburn, Mississippi State and Kansas. None are as difficult as the back-to-back games against LSU and Tennessee this week, according to Kentucky coach John Calipari. “The next two, you have games that are Elite Eight games, Final Four games,” he said. “That is where we are playing now. Let’s see where we are. The good news is, whether Tuesday or Saturday, there will be more games. You are not like, ‘Well, your season ended.’ This is us to learn. Are we where we all think we are? Let’s see because we have to play the game.”
Stopping the run: After watching his team let Mississippi State claw back from an 18-point deficit Saturday, Calipari was quick to remind reporters Monday that LSU has climbed back from double-digit deficits several times in recent games. “They’re not afraid,” he said. “Neither are we.” How can Kentucky avoid surrendering one of those runs to the Tigers? “If you’re inexperienced you’ll think one or two plays really doesn’t matter,” Calipari said. “So, you won’t be focused. You won’t make the easy play. You’ll grab a ball with one hand. You’ll do something that is like, ‘Why would you do that?’ ‘Well, we were up 14.’ Then you look around and you’re up 10. And then all of the sudden that momentum is there. Then they make a shot and then you get fouled. Uh-oh. And you missed two. And all of the sudden it’s anybody’s ball game. It started with those two plays that you acted like didn’t matter.”
LSU’s big guns: Much attention will be directed Tuesday to SEC Player of the Year candidate Tremont Waters, the Tigers point guard, and LSU freshman forward Naz Reid. Calipari agreed with a reporter who compared Waters to former UK point guard Tyler Ulis. It’s likely Ashton Hagans will draw the defensive assignment against Waters for most of the game, but Calipari said that plan has not been finalized. “They’re two really good players, but different,” Calipari said. “Tremont does an unbelievable job at stealing balls on defense and creating havoc that way, and then offensively he really sees the court and can score. So he’s terrific that way. Our guy is, you know – speed that game up, put pressure on the ball.”
The 6-foot-10 Reid presents a similar matchup problem as UK’s PJ Washington as he is shooting 36.8 percent (21 for 57) from 3-point range. Kentucky freshman guard Tyler Herro expressed confidence Washington will be able to handle Reid defensively, but Calipari made no attempt to downplay the challenge at hand. “He’s big,” Calipari said. “He’ll shoot 3s, plays a little bit like a guard. He’s really good.”