Auburn Tigers 11-5 (8-6 ATS) at Kentucky WIldcats 14-2 (11-5 ATS)
When and Where: Saturday, Jan. 14, Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky. 4:00pm EST (ESPN)
Spread: Kentucky -23.5; Total: 171.5
The sixth-ranked Wildcats come into Saturday afternoon’s game with a bit of revenge on their minds. Kentucky lost just five games in Southeastern Conference play a year and without a doubt, the most surprising one came at the hands of Auburn. The Tigers, meanwhile, only won five conference games, but again, none more shocking than their win over the ‘Cats. The victory snapped an 18 game-winning streak in series for UK.
Tigers Trying to Toughen Up
Auburn finished last season nine games under .500 and went just 5-13 in Southeastern Conference play. This year’s team is off to a much better start and has already matched last year’s win total. In non-conference play, their only setbacks have came against a nationally ranked Purdue team (by 25 points), and to Boston College by a single point. After the loss to the Eagles the team reeled off four in a row, including back-to-back wins vs. Oklahoma and UConn, before dropping the SEC home opener to Georgia by 12. Losses to Vandy and Ole Miss followed before they earned their first SEC win in their last outing, a 77-72 victory Missouri.
Danjel Purifoy missed the game against Mizzou and could be out Saturday as well. the freshmen is second on the team in both points (13.7) and rebounds (5.8). “I felt like I was a hockey coach, sending them over the boards and changing lines,” Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said after Tuesday’s victory. “The loss of Danjel (Purifoy) is just huge. Nobody can really replace him.”
Wildcats a Wrecking Crew
After finishing tied Texas A&M atop the SEC with with a 13-5 mark in conference play last season, Kentucky went on to beat the Aggies for the SEC tourney title but lost in the second-round of the NCAA Tournament to the Indiana Hoosiers. This year’s squad has jumped out to a 4-0 start in league play and is looking for the conference title outright this time around. The latest step towards that goal will be against a Tigers squad that stunned them a year ago in Auburn. The ‘Cats non-conference slate saw them take down the likes of Michigan State, Arizona State, and North Carolina, but they also dropped contests to UCLA and Louisville along the way.
In the 87-81 win over Vanderbilt, Malike Monk and De’Aaron Fox combined to score all but 10 of of Kentucky’s points. Monk is averaging 21.7 points per game while Fox is scoring 16.7 per contest. On Wednesday both Fox and Monk were named to the Wooden Award midseason 25 watch. The Wildcats are 46-2 all-time at home vs. Auburn and have won 32 of the last 34 in the series overall.
- 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games following an ATS win
- 1-4-1 ATS in their last 6 games as an underdog of 13.0 or greater
- 1-4-1 ATS in their last 6 games as a road underdog of 13.0 or greater
- 1-6 ATS in their last 7 vs. Southeastern
- 6-0 ATS in their last 6 games following a ATS loss
- 14-3 ATS in their last 17 games as a favorite of 13.0 or greater
- 13-3 ATS in their last 16 games as a home favorite of 13.0 or greater
- 4-1 ATS in their last 5 home games vs. a team with a road winning % of greater than .600
23 points seems like a lot to give up, but three of Kentucky’s four wins in league play have come by at least 23 points. Auburn could be playing without one of their best players. Throw in the revenge factor and the fact that this time around the game is in Rupp Arena and you have the makings of a good-old fashioned blowout in this one.