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2:30 PM PT3:30 PM MT4:30 PM CT5:30 PM ET10:30 PM GMT6:30 PM 北京时间3:30 PM MST5:30 PM EST, Dec 22, 2018
United Center, Chicago, Illinois  Attendance: 15,124

Many points expected in Kentucky-North Carolina matchup

(AP Photo/James Crisp)

There should be no shortage of firepower when No. 9 North Carolina and No. 19 Kentucky collide Saturday at the United Center in Chicago.

Recent games between these storied programs have lived up the hype, so another thriller could be on tap.

"They come at you a lot of different ways," Kentucky coach John Calipari said. "They're going to score points. We're going to score points too. The games we've played against these guys in most cases it has been two teams going right at each other. That's how you're going to have to play."

Both teams hold 8-2 records this season.

These are two of the top three winningest men's basketball programs all-time, with Kentucky tops with 2,271 victories.

North Carolina had one of those high-scoring games Saturday night when it knocked off Gonzaga 103-90.

"I hope it's not the ceiling," Williams said of the Gonzaga game.

For the Tar Heels, this is the time of the year when Williams is banking on seeing significant strides with final exams out of the way.

"You're getting more time (for practice)," Williams said. "We've been challenged. We know a lot about our team, but I still think we have a lot to learn about our team."

The Tar Heels showed strong perimeter shooting against Gonzaga, a welcome relief. But Williams is anxious to see developments at the other end of the court.

"The biggest gap of where we are now and where I think we can get to is on the defensive end," Williams said.

Kentucky opened the season on a big stage with a loss to Duke. Calipari said that was simply part of the process of the season and not something to dwell on, particularly as he sees the Wildcats improving.

"That's why it takes time," Calipari said. "That's why we rely on the process as you're trying to get through. You're trying to win as many games as you can, but it becomes a process."

Kentucky ranks fifth nationally with a plus-12.9 rebounding margin per game. Traditionally, North Carolina counts on strong rebounding efforts.

"They're a team that's going to score," Calipari said. "You just try to make it difficult on them. The biggest thing is you have to rebound."

North Carolina senior forward Luke Maye, then a sophomore, drained the game-winning shot in a 2017 NCAA Tournament game against Kentucky, sending the Tar Heels to the Final Four and eventually to the national championship.

North Carolina won that Elite Eight game 75-73 in Memphis, Tenn. Earlier that season, Kentucky topped the Tar Heels 103-100 in Las Vegas.

Maye reached the 1,000-point mark for his career in the Gonzaga game. He leads the Atlantic Coast Conference this season with 10.1 rebounds per game.

Kentucky freshman guard Keldon Johnson is coming off a 24-point outing in last Saturday's 88-61 victory over Utah.

"I'm shooting with confidence. That's the main thing -- my teammates have been just telling me to keep shooting," Johnson said. "After I hit the first one, I knew it was going to be a good day."

Calipari said Johnson is learning to become a more well-rounded player.

"His whole thing is (staying focused)," Calipari said. "You can't just play hard in spurts and then stay in the game."

Freshman guard Ashton Hagans has moved into the Kentucky starting lineup for the past two games. He leads the team with 3.1 assists per game.

Hagans said Calipari has been demanding this week.

"We've been running a lot," Hagans said. "We've been working on defense more."

This is the seventh consecutive meeting with both teams ranked. In 10 seasons at Kentucky, Calipari's teams are 44-23 when both teams hold national rankings.

North Carolina is 3-1 all-time in the United Center.

North Carolina leads the all-time series by 24-15. Kentucky has won five of eight meetings since Calipari became coach.

Updated December 22, 2018

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