With most teams in the thick of conference competition and chaos across the country, No. 17 Kentucky and Gonzaga on Saturday will square off inside Rupp Arena for one of the best out-of-conference games of the season as a nice palate cleanser for a wild weekend. The game is the second of a six-year series that started last year in Spokane and will run through 2027.
Gonzaga won the first round of the series last season 88-72, doing so despite playing at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena instead of inside The Kennel on Gonzaga’s campus. Kentucky gets a clean shot at redemption to even the series with a true home game — the first of the series — in what will likely be a rowdy afternoon atmosphere in front of Big Blue Nation.
Kentucky is walking wounded with losses in three of its last five games but UK has the offensive weaponry to compete with any team on any given day this season, and that’s despite still not playing a full game at full strength due to various injuries and absences. That trend is unlikely to change Saturday with Tre Mitchell and DJ Wagner still not 100%, but the betting gods suggest the odds of a UK win is more likely than not, with UK favored by four over the visiting Zags.
Kentucky vs. Gonzaga: Need to know
Wounded Wildcats: Continuity has not been kind to the ‘Cats this season. They’ll enter the weekend having exactly zero games all season with its entire lineup available, and that isn’t likely to change Saturday with DJ Wagner and Tre Mitchell still working back from injury. That has largely not been a catastrophic mixture up until lately, which has unsurprisingly coincided mostly with Wagner’s absence.
Dillingham the dude-ingham: With so many moving parts of late for this UK roster, one thing has remained a constant: the steady emergence of a star in Rob Dillingham. The freshman guard has averaged 25 points and 5.7 assists per game over his last three and shot a scorching 62% on 21 attempts from 3-point range in that span. A win for UK over Gonzaga likely means Dillingham again stole the show, and at this point that’s become the expectation in every UK game.
Rupp-roh: A homecourt advantage in college basketball is among the more reliable ones you can get, but that has not been the case for Kentucky of late. It enters Saturday having lost two in a row inside Rupp Arena with the threat of extending its home losing streak to three — which it has never done in a season under John Calipari.
How to watch Kentucky vs. Gonzaga live
Kentucky vs. Gonzaga prediction, picks
Kentucky’s defense may not be able to slow a Gonzaga offense that looks like the worst in a decade for Mark Few, but ultimately I don’t think it matters — at least as it pertains to determining the outcome. UK’s offense is in a groove right now with Dillingham taking charge, and I’d expect Justin Edwards, Reed Sheppard and Antonio Reeves contributing at home will be enough to get UK to the finish line with a dub. Pick: Kentucky -4
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