The Kentucky Wildcats begin their season with Transylvania for the third time in a row. The Wildcats beat the Pioneers 74-28 to open the 2012-13 season. Transylvania posted a respectable 20-8 record last season and qualified for the NCAA Division III Tournament. The Pioneers fell in the opening round to Illinois Wesleyan.
You may be surprised to know that the regular season series between the ‘Cats and Transy is tied at 7 games. The last time these two teams met in the regular season was 1911. Kentucky won that game by a score of 30-24. The schools played 14 times between 1903-1911, with Transylvania winning five of the first six games.
While the “Battle of Broadway” should be a lopsided affair in favor of the Wildcats, the Pioneers may struggle a little more this time around. Last season’s team had six seniors on the roster, and three of those players were 1,000 point scorers for the Pioneers. Transylvania’s leading scorer from last season, Parker Stansberry, averaged 8.9 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. The Pioneers will also make the walk over to Rupp without a single senior on their roster. Former Kentucky center Nerlens Noel lead the ‘Cats in scoring in last year’s contest with 15 points. Willie Cauley-Stein is the returning player who scored the most points against the Pioneers with 12.
While the Pioneers lost a lot of personnel, the ‘Cats have a completely reloaded roster. Transylvania will be the first opposing school to get a look at what some people are calling the best recruiting class ever. I’m sure by now, the Kentucky players are anxious to play in their first game against someone other than themselves. I expect some really sloppy play early from nerves and all the new players learning Calipari’s system. I would expect Kentucky to shoot the ball reasonably well and out rebound the smaller Pioneers.
Kentucky head coach John Calipari has noted the ‘Cats will be without Andrew Harrison in tonight’s game. Harrison is still recovering from a knee injury he suffered before the Blue-White game. The injury has been reported as non-serious and Harrison is listed as day-to-day.