The Kentucky Wildcats are coming off two impressive wins that saw them cover each game. On Monday, they were voted the No. 1 team in the nation in the AP Top 25, and next, they will meet an Evansville team that finished at the bottom of the Missouri Valley Conference last season.
While it would be farfetched to think the Purple Aces will win this game outright, Evansville is getting north of 25 points despite the team revamping its roster under second-year coach Walter McCarty.
McCarty was a four-year star at Kentucky in the ’90s and a Knicks first-round pick in 1996. He brought in a former ESPN Top 100 recruit Sam Cunliffe, who started his career with Kansas and Arizona State, to elevate the program. Cunliffe came off the bench for 17 points in Evansville’s opening win against Ball State, and at 6-foot-6 gives the team solid versatility.
Guard Artur Labinowicz is another transfer. Two years ago at Coastal Carolina, he registered 10.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.
Evansville should have a tough time matching up with the Wildcats’ size, but could get a break with 6-10 forward EJ Montgomery doubtful to play for UK. And the guard play of the Purple Aces should allow them to be competitive and cover.
The play: Evansville, +25¹/₂.