How to watch Texas vs. Kentucky: Game guide, TV schedule, streaming, odds
The SEC/Big 12 Challenge hits a high when the Longhorns attempt to upset the No. 1 team in the nation.
So far this season, no team has come closer to Kentucky than 19 points, and that effort from Buffalo saw the Wildcats outscore it 38-14 in the second half. The Wildcats have been outright dominant, but no opponent the No. 1 team in the nation has faced through its 7-0 start has a frontline quite like the Texas Longhorns, who face John Calipari’s team on Friday night in the must-watch matchup of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
Texas is likewise off to a perfect start to the year, and it’s continued to win over the last four games despite losing point guard and leading scorer Isaiah Taylor to a broken wrist. Taylor’s much-improved shooting was lost as was his playmaking ability, but Rick Barnes’ squad has remained afloat with Javan Felix and Demarcus Holland picking up the pieces in the backcourt. They have complemented the bigs well enough, and they’ll certainly have to play well against the Harrison twins of Kentucky if the Longhorns want to throw the upset.
Down low is where the matchups are most intriguing.
Texas center Cameron Ridley and forwards Jonathan Holmes and Connor Lammert will challenge Kentucky’s size, as will freshman backup Myles Turner. The Wildcats’ platoon system has been successful in wearing down other teams, and that will be even more key against a Texas frontcourt that can perhaps use skill to overcome UK’s rim-protecting capabilities. Even if Texas’ big men can score in one-on-one situations, they will need some jumpers to fall to keep the Wildcats away from packing the paint. Finding those one-on-one situations will be the trick.
How to watch, listen and stream
Game time: 7 p.m. ET
Radio: UK Sports Network / Longhorn Sports Network, KVET (FM 98.1/1300AM)
Online Streaming: Watch ESPN.
Rankings and records: Kentucky is ranked No. 1 in both the AP and Coaches polls, while the Longhorns sit in sixth place in the AP Poll compared to seventh in the Coaches poll. Both squads enter the game with 7-0 records. Texas has solid wins against Cal and Iowa, both of which have upset ranked teams themselves. UT also held off No. 25 UConn last week, 55-54. Meanwhile, the Wildcats have their telling 72-40 win over then-No. 5 Kansas. The teams have one common opponent: Texas is coming off a 63-53 win against UT-Arlington, which lost to UK 92-44 last week.
One big matchup
Myles Turner vs. the platoons: The freshman phenom will be important as a member of Texas’ short second unit. Of the Longhorn big men, he may have the most time facing UK’s lineup that doesn’t include as much talent as starters Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress and Karl-Anthony Towns — not that Marcus Lee, Dakari Johnson, Trey Lyles and Derek Willis aren’t talented. Turner is probably the Longhorn’s best defensive option to stop the Kentucky bigs, and on the offensive side of the ball, he’s an important piece because of his ability to stretch the court, especially with Taylor sidelined.