Kentucky vs. UNC Wilmington: Preview, Odds, How to Watch

On3 imageby:Jack Pilgrim12/02/23

Kentucky passed its most recent test in a beatdown win over No. 8 Miami (FL) inside Rupp Arena. Now the Wildcats look to avoid a hangover effort against the UNC Wilmington Seahawks on Saturday, opening tip scheduled for 4 p.m. ET on SEC Network.

John Calipari’s squad is picking up steam as one of the hottest teams in college basketball with the third-ranked scoring offense and fourth-best effective field-goal percentage — first among high-majors — while also leading the country in assist/turnover ratio. Can they continue building momentum as December basketball begins? Let’s break down the matchup.

How To Watch

No. 12 Kentucky (6-1) vs. UNC Wilmington (5-2)
4 p.m. ET | Saturday, December 2 | Rupp Arena

Team Records

No. 12 Kentucky: 6-1 (KenPom: 12)

  • 11/6: 86-46 W vs. New Mexico State
  • 11/10: 81-61 W vs. Texas A&M-Commerce (Wildcat Challenge)
  • 11/14: 89-84 L vs. No. 1 Kansas
  • 11/17: 101-67 W vs. Stonehill (Wildcat Challenge)
  • 11/20: 96-88 OT W vs. Saint Joseph’s (Wildcat Challenge)
  • 11/24: 118-82 W vs. Marshall
  • 11/28: 95-73 W vs. No. 8 Miami (FL)

UNC Wilmington: 5-2 (KenPom: 145)

  • 11/6: 105-66 W vs. Mount Olive
  • 11/11: 83-66 W vs. UNC Asheville
  • 11/14: 116-80 W vs. Columbia International
  • 11/20: 83-81 W (OT) vs. Murray State
  • 11/21: 86-56 L vs. Appalachian State
  • 11/25: 71-55 W vs. Florida Gulf Coast
  • 11/30: 74-66 L vs. East Carolina

Series History

This is it. Kentucky has never played UNC Wilmington, this matchup moving the Wildcats’ all-time opponent total from 402 to 403 including all regulation and exhibition matchups.

The Seahawks are coached by Takayo Siddle, who is in his fourth year in Wilmington. He turned a 7-10 program in 2020-21 into back-to-back 27- and 24-win teams. UNCW made it to the CAA Tournament finals in back-to-back seasons while also winning the CBI in ’21-22.

Kentucky vs. UNC Wilmington Odds on FanDuel

Spread: Kentucky -17.5
Total: 152.5 points

Kentucky Projected Starters

(Starting lineup based on the last game)

#21 – DJ Wagner
6-4 • 192 • GUARD • FRESHMAN
13.1 PPG, 3.3 APG

#12 – Antonio Reeves
6-6 • 195 • GUARD • SENIOR
18.9 PPG, 5.0 RPG

#3 – Adou Thiero
6-8 • 222 • GUARD • SOPHOMORE
8.2 PPG, 7.2 RPG

#1 – Justin Edwards
6-8 • 203 • FORWARD • FRESHMAN
10.1 PPG, 4.1 RPG

#4 – Tre Mitchell
14.9 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 4.0 APG

Head Coach: John Calipari (32nd season, 15th at UK) – 838-254 overall, 393-114 at UK

UNC Wilmington Names to Know

Trazarien White

#13 – Trazarien White
6-7 • 190 • FORWARD • JUNIOR
18.1 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.6 APT

Shykeim Phillips

Shykeim Phillips
6-2 • 190 • GUARD • SENIOR
14.0 PPG, 2.6 APG, 2.0 SPG

Maleeck Harden-Hayes

#3 Maleeck Harden-Hayes
6-7 • 200 • GUARD • SENIOR
12.7 PPG, 5.4 RPG

KJ Jenkins

#0 KJ Jenkins
6-2 • 180 • GUARD • SENIOR
9.6 PPG, 2.3 RPG

Nick Farrar

#30 Nick Farrar
6-7 • 255 • FORWARD • SENIOR
7.7 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.7 APG

Statistical Comparison

(via Kentucky’s game notes)

Fun stats from UK’s game notes:

  • Kentucky has an average age of 20.0 years on the 2023-24 roster at the start of the season. That is the seventh-youngest team in the country
  • Kentucky is dishing out 20.9 assists per game, which is the seventh-best in the nation. Four players have 23 or more assists (3.3 per game) thus far.
  • Kentucky is averaging just 8.1 turnovers per game. That average is the second-lowest in the country. Its 10.9 turnover percentage is the best in the country.

Pregame Storylines


Though he couldn’t guarantee his availability, John Calipari said following Kentucky’s win over Miami (FL) he expected the prized 7-foot freshman to make his debut this weekend against the Seahawks. And that’s a good thing, considering the tallest player on the UNCW roster is 6-9 and the team is tied for No. 262 in college basketball with 34.6 rebounds per game. With the Wildcats desperate for frontcourt depth, this matchup is not a bad place to start.


Kentucky’s starting point guard went down with an ankle injury in the first half of the team’s win over No. 8 Miami (FL) earlier this week. It’s never convenient to suffer an injury, but if there was ever a break in the schedule to have one, this is it. The Cats play Saturday, then don’t hit the floor again until the following Saturday vs. Penn in Philadelphia — a homecoming game for Wagner, Bradshaw and Justin Edwards. Holding him out of this one wouldn’t be the worst idea to get him back on his feet next week and pick momentum back up ahead of the CBS Sports Classic the following weekend. Reed Sheppard and Rob Dillingham will do just fine holding down the fort.


If UNCW coach Takayo Siddle’s name sounds familiar, it’s because it comes from a deep, dark memory rooted in every Kentucky fan’s mind. The 37-year-old played on the Gardner-Webb team that beat the Billy Gillispie-coached Wildcats inside Rupp Arena 84-68 during the 2007-08 season. Siddle finished with eight points in 29 minutes off the bench.


He finished his playing career at Clarion University, but did you know Coach Cal was once a guard at UNCW? Calipari attended and played basketball in Wilmington from 1978-80. He would appear in 25 games across two seasons, racking up 29 points, 22 assists, seven rebounds, and 25 fouls while shooting 4-17 from the field.


The Seahawks currently rank ninth in the CollegeInsider poll among mid-majors and were picked to finish second in the CAA behind College of Charleston. In’s first bracket predictions, though, UNCW is projected as an NCAA Tournament team, the No. 56 overall seed as an automatic qualifier.

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Rapid Reaction on the KSR YouTube Channel

Miss the game? KSR’s got you covered. Drew Franklin, Jack Pilgrim and Zack Geoghegan will be at Rupp Arena to share their Rapid Reactions on the KSR YouTube Channel. We’ll also have wall-to-wall postgame coverage on the website, including highlights, comments from John Calipari and the players, stats, and takeaways.

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