It's debatable whether No. 20 Kentucky or Georgia Tech is more in need of a victory when they meet on Sunday in a showcase game at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta.
Kentucky (1-2), one of college basketball's bluebloods, has lost two straight games after falling 65-62 to No. 7 Kansas on Tuesday. Georgia Tech (0-2), expected to make a run for the NCAA Tournament for the first time in a decade, has been beaten by in-state opponents Georgia State and Mercer.
The Wildcats haven't lost more than two in a row since a four-game losing streak in February 2018.
"To be honest, I feel like these losses helped us as a team. We've got a lot to work on, got a lot to grow," Kentucky freshman Isaiah Jackson said. "Just, as the season goes on, we have a lot of stuff to work on. We have time. We're going to keep working, getting in the gym and working."
Kentucky's top scorers are Brandon Boston Jr. (15.7 points per game), Terrence Clarke (11 ppg) and Olivier Sarr (11 ppg).
The Wildcats have had trouble shooting from the perimeter. Kentucky has made only 19.1 percent of its 3-point attempts (9 of 47), but Calipari believes it's a matter of his young team gaining experience.
"I think we've got a good 3-point shooting team, but we're just not making them right now," Calipari said. "It could be the pressure. These kids have never been in this situation and it means more.
"You're playing with headphones on and gloves on and shooting the ball. Now, this thing is different. A guy is hanging on you. You're playing with a guy that's four years older than you and the guy is up in you. It's a different deal and it takes time to get used to."
Georgia Tech is working through final exam week. The Yellow Jackets returned to having contact drills in practice, something coach Josh Pastner had the players stay away from during the run-up to the season in an attempt to prevent any COVID-19 issues.
"I had assumed that with us being an older team, we'd get back in the flow of where we left off last season," Pastner said. "I was wrong on that. That falls on myself. The objective was the health and safety of our young men. I did what I thought was best. The issue was it wasn't good for game preparation."
Georgia Tech's Moses Wright is off to a great start, averaging 25.5 points and 12 rebounds per game. The experienced guard tandem of Michael Devoe (19 ppg) and Jose Alvarado (18.5 ppg) has not only scored effectively but also has done the sort of job on the boards that pleases Pastner. Devoe averages nine rebounds per game with Alvarado averaging 6.5.
The game also features a pair of familiar coaches. Pastner was an assistant under Calipari at Memphis and took over the program when Calipari headed to Kentucky. It will also be a homecoming for Boston, who grew up in the Atlanta suburb of Norcross before moving to California for his senior season of high school.
--Field Level Media