Lexington, KY – The nation's top-ranked team will be on display tonight, as the Kentucky Wildcats welcome the St. John's Red Storm to Rupp Arena as part of the Big East/SEC Challenge.
Kentucky represents the third Top-25 opponent for St. John's, the youngest team in the nation, in its first eight games, and the program will attempt to knock off the country's top-ranked squad for the sixth time in its history, and for the first time in 27 years. The Red Storm are 4-3 overall this season after losses in three of the last four outings. Last Saturday, they fell to Northeastern by a 78-64 final in front of a disappointed home crowd.
As for the Wildcats, they are nearly as young and inexperienced as the Red Storm, so the fact that John Calipari's group holds the nation's top ranking speaks to the elite talent that exists on the roster. All six games thus far have resulted in double-digit wins for Kentucky, the most recent of which was an 87-63 romp over the University of Portland last weekend. The most notable victory to date came by 10 points over Kansas on a neutral court.
The Wildcats own a 10-5 series lead over St. John's, and the most recent meeting took place back in 2000.
In the 14-point loss to Northeastern last time out, St. John's was outrebounded by a 45-35 margin and shot just 2-of-16 from three-point range, two of the most obvious reasons for the setback. God'sgift Achiuwa scored 17 points off the bench to lead the way in defeat, and he also ripped down nine rebounds. As for Nurideen Lindsey, he tallied 16 points in the affair. Through seven outings, Lindsey paces his team with 14.4 ppg, 25 assists and 14 steals, proof of his importance. Still, the fact that he has committed 26 turnovers suggests that there is room for improvement. D'Angelo Harrison provides 14.3 ppg and Moe Harkless is close behind with 14.1 ppg for the Red Storm, who are generating 70.0 ppg while allowing 65.1 ppg to goes. Achiuwa rounds out a quartet of double-digit scorers with 65.1 ppg.
Kentucky is led by a pair of stellar sophomores in Doron Lamb and Terrence Jones, both of whom excelled as freshmen in 2010-11. Lamb, a three-point marksman, is netting 14.2 ppg, while Jones checks in with 13.3 ppg and 7.3 rpg. Star rookie Anthony Davis provides 12.7 ppg and 8.2 rpg to go along with 26 blocks, while fellow rookies Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (12.5 ppg) and Marquis Teague (11.7 ppg) have been impressive as well. The Wildcats are racking up 84.2 ppg on 51.4 percent shooting from the field and are allowing only 54.2 ppg to opponents on 31.3 percent efficiency. Both Jones and Darius Miller scored 19 points to lead the way in the romp over Portland last time out. In that game, Kentucky posted 20 assists against only four turnovers and earned a 24-6 edge in points from the foul line.