Pennsylvania Quakers vs. Kentucky Wildcats Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 9th 2023


Nothing has come easy for No. 16 Kentucky this season.

The Wildcats (6-2) needed overtime to defeat Saint Joseph’s 96-88 on Nov. 20. Then came a maddening 80-73 home loss to UNC Wilmington last Saturday.

Kentucky’s first opportunity to avenge that loss will come Saturday afternoon against Pennsylvania in a game which will be played at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

Reed Sheppard led the Wildcats with 25 points and Antonio Reeves added 14 against UNC Wilmington.

Aaron Bradshaw, a 7-foot-1 freshman, scored three points in his debut after being out with an injured foot. Point guard D.J. Wagner was out with an ankle injury and it appeared to hinder the offense.

“The thing that bothered me to start the game — I understand our starting point guard was out, OK?” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “But we didn’t play the same way. We held the ball. Everybody is trying to make a play. So now you say: ‘Well, why didn’t you get off more threes?’ Because everybody who caught it, held it.”

Wagner is considered day-to-day and could possibly return to face the Quakers.

“Whether he’ll play Saturday, we won’t know for a while,” Calipari said. “I know he wants to play, but it’s black and blue. It’s not swollen anymore, but it’s black and blue. So, we’ll see.”

Kentucky committed 14 turnovers and made a season-low five 3-pointers against the Seahawks.

Kentucky won all five previous meetings against Penn and last won 86-62 on Jan. 3, 2011, in Lexington.

It’s difficult to gauge if Penn is fully ready for this challenge considering its last game came against Division III foe FDU-Florham on Wednesday in a 111-57 rout.

The Quakers (6-4) received 18 points from Clark Slajchert in less than 15 minutes. Freshman Sam Brown scored 16 points.

In the game before that, Penn played solid throughout in a 93-92 loss to La Salle on an overtime buzzer beater by Khalil Brantley in the Big 5 Classic in Philadelphia.

“I thought both teams just played in the spirit of what the Big 5 is all about,” Pennsylvania coach Steve Donahue said after the tough defeat. “We traded blow after blow. I think our guys gave it their all. To lose the game that way? That’s pretty hard to handle but it is what it is.”

Slajchert poured in 33 points against La Salle while Nick Spinoso added 17 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.

The Quakers have proven to be a tough opponent all season and that was evident in an earlier win over Villanova.

If Penn hopes to pull an upset over Kentucky, it will likely happen on the defensive side.

“I think we did almost everything that we could’ve there,” Slajchert said of the loss to the Explorers. “But we didn’t lose the game there, we lost on the defensive end for 40 minutes before.”

The Quakers compiled 14 steals against FDU-Florham, their most in a game since an 82-63 victory over Cornell on Feb. 12, 2017.

–Field Level Media

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