Baylor vs. Kentucky: Bears Will Hand Wildcats First Home Loss of Calipari Era

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistDecember 1, 2012

SOUTH BEND, IN - NOVEMBER 29: Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats reacts against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the game at Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center on November 29, 2012 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

When the Baylor Bears (4-2) walk into Rupp Arena to take on the No. 8 Kentucky Wildcats (4-2), they be facing not only an incredibly talented Wildcats team, but one that has not lost a home game since John Calipari took over as head coach for the 2009-10 season.

That's what you call a home-court advantage.

Both teams are coming off of surprising losses—Kentucky dropped a 64-50 contest to Notre Dame on Wednesday, while Baylor was stunned at home by the College of Charleston, 64-59.

Yet Saturday afternoon, the Bears will hand Coach Cal his first loss on the Rupp Arena floor.

Kentucky may have the advantage on paper, but Baylor is a very talented team that has the one thing the Wildcats don't: experience.

Point guard Archie Goodwin, along with forwards Alex Poythress and Nerlens Noel comprise three-fifths of the Wildcats starting lineup—and they are all freshmen.

Baylor has two quality freshmen of its own—7'1" center Isaiah Austin and 6'8" forward Rico Gathers—but the rest of their core players, namely point guard Pierre Jackson, forward Cory Jefferson and guards Brady Heslip and Gary Franklin, are all upper classmen.

And they all still have a bitter taste in their mouths from the Elite Eight of last year's NCAA Tournament, when Kentucky defeated Baylor 82-70.

While each team's complement of forwards and big men will be factors, the key in this game will be the play of each team's respective backcourts.

Notre Dame's veteran backcourt of Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant had their way with Goodwin and senior guard Julius Mays on Wednesday, and Jackson and Heslip are superior players to that pair.

Jackson is one of the premier point guards in the nation while Heslip, who will be playing for the first time in over a week (h/t NBC Sports), is one of the most deadly long-range shooters in the country.

Both teams are hungry, and Kentucky has the home-court advantage. However, the Wildcats have yet to show the ability to play as a cohesive unit against difficult competition, and those growing pains will continue against the Bears on Saturday afternoon.

It'll be close, but Baylor wins, 74-69.