Kentucky vs. Albany Prediction, Game Preview

    Kentucky vs. Albany prediction and game preview for the opening game between the Wildcats and Great Danes. Find out who's picked to win the regular season tipoff.

    November 13, 2015

    The No. 2-ranked Kentucky Wildcats get their season started against the Albany Great Danes in Rupp Arena. Below is the Kentucky vs. Albany prediction and game preview.

    Kentucky vs. Albany Game Preview

    Game Broadcast

    Date: Friday, Nov. 13
    Game Time: 7 p.m. ET
    Venue: Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky.
    Network: SECN

    Why You Need To Care

    Kentucky was this close to transforming an undefeated regular season into a national championship, but Frank Kaminsky and the Wisconsin Badgers ruined that dream. Now, John Calipari is trying to get his squad back to the dance with another stellar freshman class.

    Isaiah Briscoe and Jamal Murray are going to form an exhilarating backcourt for the Wildcats, and they could be what sends Kentucky on another deep run into the tourney.

    Albany is no slouch, though. The Great Danes have gone dancing in March for the past three straight years. Yes, head coach Will Brown has watched his team get knocked out in the second round in each of those years, but at least they can say they made it there. Brown has led his team to two 24-win seasons in the past three years.

    While all fingers point toward a Kentucky win, the Great Danes won’t just roll over — pun very much intended.

    Why Kentucky Will Win

    Calipari has been around the block a few times. Kentucky is 93-19 all-time in season openers and is 6-0 with Calipari at the helm. The Wildcats might have lost 85.9 percent of their scoring and 77.3 percent of their rebounding from last year’s roster, but there’s a reason why they were picked to win their 47th Southeastern Conference championship. Calipari recruits the best of the best. 

    Last season, Kentucky was second in rebounding (1,482 total rebounds) and first in blocks (268). Sure, Willie Cauley-Stein and Karl-Anthony Towns played big roles in making that happen, but Skal Labissiere and Marcus Lee should do just as well. Kentucky will get a lot of penetration from Murray and Briscoe. When the opposing interior defense steps over, the drop off to Labissiere and Lee will be taken advantage of — often.

    Why Albany Will Win

    The Great Danes are returning four of their five starters from last year’s tournament team. Forward Sam Rowley is the only one who’s departed, but his brother, Mike, could be up to the challenge of improving on his 3.8 points per game average. Albany was No. 13 in free throw percentage last season (75.8 percent), so part of their game plan should be to get Labissiere and Lee into foul trouble early. The Great Danes averaged 19.7 free throw attempts per game a year ago, but they may need to take about 25 attempts in order to keep pace with the Wildcats, who will look to run with an athletic backcourt.

    Players Who Matter

    It has to be Labissiere. The 6-foot-11 freshman from Port-au-Prince, Haiti is trying to fill the shoes of three big men who were lottery picks in the 2015 NBA Draft — including the No. 1 overall selection in Towns. Labissiere will need to use this game, and the next few contests, to establish his role on the team and his image to the SEC. The biggest impact he can have is on the defensive end. With Murray and Briscoe likely to get theirs, Labissiere will need to plant his flag in the paint and reject shots like they were bad pick-up lines.

    For Albany, Peter Hooley has to be the guy. The senior guard played in 24 of the team’s 33 games last season and averaged 13.7 points per game — second to Rowley. Hooley has shot 36.1 percent from three in his collegiate career. When he shoots 50 percent or better from behind the arc, the Great Danes are 18-8. If he can piece together a big night — preferably in the 20-point range — Hooley will put the Great Danes in a respectable position.

    What’s Going To Happen?

    The Wildcats aren’t the same as they were last season, but there is still more talent on Kentucky’s roster than you’ll find across the board in some conferences. Murray and Briscoe are going to reach double-digit points each, and Labissiere will clean up on the boards while walking the line of a double-double.

    The Great Danes will get an inefficient scoring contribution from Hooley, which won’t be enough to keep the game close by any means. Evan Singletary and Ray Sanders will get to the line, but the transition offense from Murray and the Wildcats will negate the free points. Kentucky will win by double digits.

    Kentucky vs. Albany Prediction

    Robert Judin:
    Kentucky 87, Albany 69

    Jordan Cornette:
    Kentucky 90, Albany 72

    Line: Kentucky -22

    MORE: SEC Basketball Preseason Rankings, 2015-16 Preview


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