First scouting report: Kentucky basketball at Gonzaga

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Gonzaga big man Drew Timme (2) picked up the MVP trophy following the Zags’ 64-63 victory over Michigan State at the Carrier Classic aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln in Coronado, Calif., last Friday. On Sunday, Timme and Gonzaga take on Oscar Tshiebwe and Kentucky in an elite battle of college hoops.

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A preview of the Kentucky Wildcats’ upcoming men’s basketball game:

The adversary

No. 4 Kentucky (3-1) will face No. 2 Gonzaga (2-1) Sunday, Nov. 20, at Spokane Arena (11,736 basketball seating capacity) in Spokane, Washington.

The game will start at 7:30 p.m. (EST) and will be broadcast by ESPN.

Gonzaga lost his first game of the season Wednesday night, a 93-74 thrashing at No. 11 Texas.

Series history

Kentucky leads the all-time series with Gonzaga 1-0.

Most recent meeting

Keith Bogans had 18 points to lead four British players in double figures as Tubby Smith and No. 15 Kentucky beat Mark Few and No. 20 Gonzaga 80-72 in the Maui Invitational consolation game in Lahaina, Hawaii.

Know your enemy

1. At Michigan State, Kentucky and Gonzaga share a common opponent. The Zags rallied 12 behind to beat the Spartans 64-63 in the Armed Forces Classic contested on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln at Naval Air Station North Island last Friday.

Zags star player Drew Timme topped MSU with 22 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots.

Conversely, Great Britain fell to the Spartans 86-77 in double overtime on Tuesday night at the Champions Classic in Indianapolis.

Kentucky star big man Oscar Tshiebwe also had a big game against the Spartans. Tshiewbe went for 22 points, 18 rebounds, two assists and four blocked shots.

2. The battle between the 6-foot-10, 235-pound Timme and the 6-foot-9, 260-pound Tshiebwe might be the most anticipated individual matchup in men’s college hoops in 2022-23.

Last season, Timme averaged 18.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists while making 58.6% of his field goal attempts. Over three games this year, Timme is averaging 22 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 3 apg and 1.5 blocked shots. He makes 57.6% of his placement tries.

If the game is close, one thing to watch is that Timme is just six of 13 from the foul line so far in 2022-23.

While earning consensus National Player of the Year honors last season, Tshiebwe averaged 17.4 points, 15.8 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.6 blocked shots. West Virginia’s transfer hit 60.6% of his placement tries.

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Oscar Tshiebwe and Drew Timme are expected to be two of the nation’s top college basketball players for the 2022-23 season. Associated Press Photos

3. Former Kentucky signee Nolan Hickman started each of Gonzaga’s first three games at guard. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound sophomore is averaging eight points and 2.3 rebounds per game. Hickman has shot pretty well, 10 of 21, 4 of 9 from three-pointers, but has as many turnovers (eight) as assists.

This story was originally published November 17, 2022 9:07 p.m.

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Mark Story has worked in the Lexington Herald-Leader sports department since August 27, 1990 and has been a Herald-Leader sports columnist since 2001. I’ve covered every Kentucky-Louisville football game since 1994, every basketball game UK-U of L match but three since 1996-97 and every Kentucky Derby since 1994.
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Amanda J. Marsh