- Hagans, Quickley, Maxey, Montgomery, Richards.
- This is still a tight eight-man rotation until the season ends. I can’t explain exactly why this is so, but I think John Calipari really appreciates how hard Johnny Juzang tries, so he’s been rewarding him with 10+ minute outings over the last few weeks. Both Keion Brooks and Nate Sestina should see double digits as well.
- Guys who will be playing 30+ minutes barring serious foul trouble: Hagans, Quickley, Maxey, Richards. Montgomery will get there if he stays on his recent run without foul issues, but considering he’s posted 4+ fouls five times in SEC play, I have my doubts.
- Vescovi, Bowden, JJJ, Pons, Fulkerson.
- It helped that all of Tennessee’s main five stayed out of serious foul trouble, but I thought it was quite surprising that Tennessee’s bench only registered 13 total minutes out of a possible 200.
- The last two games were the first games where Jalen Johnson hadn’t registered 10+ minutes since mid-December. I thought Johnson was at least fine against Auburn if not outright good, so I assume this is either a longer-term annoyance for Barnes or bad practice. At this point of Jalen Johnson’s career, it is probably wise to stop attempting to find any sort of pattern and just trust that little of it will make much sense.
Jordan Bowden vs. Immanuel Quickley. Hey, you might not know this, but would you like to know some Jordan Bowden stats? He’s hit 10+ points in 13 of the last 14 Tennessee games. He’s posted a 100+ Offensive Rating in 10 of the last 14. Quietly, he’s shot 11-for-25 from three over the last four games. I think he is fine! Anyway, I care more about his defense in this one. Bowden hasn’t had as many gaudy defensive games this year as he did the previous two. If he can push Quickley towards 17-footers and guard him well on the perimeter, it’s all you can ask for.
John Fulkerson vs. Nick Richards. Nick Richards can jump far higher than John Fulkerson. Honestly, he’s probably faster, too. But does it really matter when John Fulkerson has been one of the ~12 best players in the SEC this season? Fulkerson’s going to show up, push his body to its absolute limit, and somehow end a game where he is the far less athletic player with a statline like 17 points, 6 rebounds, and two blocks.
Josiah-Jordan James/Davonte Gaines vs. Tyrese Maxey. I think both will get serious time on the future first-round pick. Maxey has serious flashes that help you understand why he’d be a top ten pick and almost always follows it with a play that makes you wonder why anyone would pick him in the first place. Most recently, Maxey had trouble with Texas A&M’s Savion Flagg, a 6’7″ small forward that roasted him for 17 points on nine shots and forced a pair of Maxey turnovers. Pons would fit this model most, but he’ll be guarding Montgomery/Sestina. JJJ and Gaines have been excellent defenders for most of the season, and I think they can force Maxey into some bad looks.
It’s Rupp. Kentucky 69, Tennessee 61.