LEXINGTON, Ky. – One more tune-up before the big one. After a 23-point win over Stephen F. Austin in Friday night’s opener, second-ranked Kentucky basketball gets Canisius at home tonight before flying to New York for a showdown with No. 12 Michigan State in the Champions Classic.
This is the Golden Griffins’ third time facing the Wildcats, who won the last meeting 81-54 in Buffalo in 1997. Canisius is 13-87 all-time against ranked opponents, its last win coming at No. 13 Cincinnati in 1994.
Reggie Witherspoon is the Griffs’ new head coach after 14 seasons at Buffalo – he was Mid-American Coach of the Year twice – and a year each as an assistant under Matt McCall at Chattanooga and Anthony Grant at Alabama. Coming off a 14-19 season, Canisius is picked to finish ninth in the MAAC.
Kentucky vs. Canisius basketball game time, details
Date: Sunday, Nov. 13
Time: 6 p.m. ET
Location: Rupp Arena (23,000), Lexington, Ky.
What TV channel is Kentucky vs. Canisius basketball on?
The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
How can I watch Kentucky vs. Canisius basketball online?
You can watch the game on ESPN3.com or with the WatchESPN app on mobile devices. Follow along with live stats on UK’s official site. And we’ll be at Rupp Arena, live-blogging the game here at SEC Country.
Who is calling the Kentucky vs. Canisius basketball game?
Play-by-play by Dave O’Brien, analysis by LaPhonso Ellis.
How can I listen to Kentucky vs. Canisius basketball?
Play-by-play by Tom Leach, analysis by Mike Pratt on Sirius 136, XM 190 or (in Lexington) AM-630.
G-De’Aaron Fox (6-3, Fr.): 12.0 ppg, 12.0 apg, 4.0 rpg, 3.0 spg
G-Isaiah Briscoe (6-3, So.): 17.0 ppg, 1.0 apg, 1.0 rpg, 1.0 spg
G-Malik Monk (6-3, Fr.): 10.0 ppg, 1.0 apg, 1.0 spg
F-Derek Willis (6-9, Sr.): 14.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 3.0 bpg
F-Bam Adebayo (6-10, Fr.): 5.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 1.0 spg
G-Malik Johnson (5-10, Fr.): N/A
G-Kiefer Douse (6-3, Sr.): 3.2 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 1.0 apg
G-Kassius Robertson (6-3, Jr.): 14.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 40.4% threes
F-Phil Valenti (6-7, Sr.): 14.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.0 apg
F-Jermaine Crumpton (6-6, Jr.): 10.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 0.8 apg
Derek Willis takes charge. The senior forward, starting alongside three freshmen Friday night, scored 10 points and blocked two shots in the first four minutes against Stephen F. Austin. He said he wanted to “set the tone” and did with 15 points, 5 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 assists and a steal in a team-high 31 minutes.
“This was his first game of the season. This was our first game ever,” freshman point guard De’Aaron Fox said. “Derek just came out and showed what a senior is supposed to do. He put up points in bunches, really quick, and he got comfortable, so that allowed us to get comfortable.”
Coach John Calipari said Willis recently piped up in practice to remind him of a piece of Kentucky’s offense from last season that so far seemed to be missing this year, which Willis never would’ve done in the past.
“I didn’t feel comfortable speaking up. I was just trying to learn what I could,” Willis said. “I didn’t really want to talk; I just wanted to listen. But now I feel like I have a better understanding of what the coaching staff wants to get done.”
Calipari said he was “so proud” of Willis, who barely got off the bench his first two seasons at Kentucky and suddenly emerged as a 3-point threat halfway through last year. Now he’s as valuable to the Wildcats as any of their six former 5-star recruits.
“He’s the first one at practice and he’s the last one to leave,” Calipari said. “He’s on a mission.”
Can Mychal Mulder help? Consistent outside shooting is the potential hole in this super-talented Kentucky roster. Mulder hit 2 of 3 3-pointers, 3 of 4 jump shots and scored eight points in just six minutes Friday night. The rest of the team sank just 3 of 15 threes. But Calipari said Mulder, the JUCO transfer who barely played last season, will have to defend better to earn a significant role.