The #22 Tennessee Volunteers battle the #18 Kentucky Wildcats in an SEC showdown on Saturday afternoon. The Volunteers clobbered South Carolina in their previous action. The Wildcats tallied a road victory against Vanderbilt in their latest clash. Each foe registered a road win in last year's two meetings.
Tennessee's Defense Shines in Blowout Win vs. SC
The Tennessee Volunteers are looking for their third SEC victory of the season. Tennessee lost their conference opener to Alabama and was also defeated by LSU last Saturday. They countered that defeat with a convincing 66-46 home win against South Carolina on Tuesday to cover the 15.5 point spread. The Volunteers had a tough non-conference schedule and earned wins against UNC and Arizona. They have covered the spread in three out of their last five games overall.
Santiago Vescovi has cooled off from beyond the arc recently but is shooting 35% from deep on the season. The junior guard has tallied an average of 13.6 PPG. Kennedy Chandler has been inconsistent lately. The freshman guard has scored double-digits in just two out of his last four games overall and is averaging a team-leading 13.4 PPG and 5.1 APG. John Fulkerson netted 10 points in Tuesday’s victory. The senior forward has posted an average of 9 PPG.
Got the win and the highlights pic.twitter.com/MBIcq6frpv— Tennessee Basketball (@Vol_Hoops) January 12, 2022
The Volunteers are ranked 13th overall in Ken Pomeroy’s ratings and dropped four spots to #22 in this week’s AP Top 25 after the mediocre start to SEC play. Tennessee is scoring an average of 75.3 points, landing them 108th overall. They are conceding an average of 60.7 points, tabbing them at 25th in the country.
Kentucky Improves to 3-1 in SEC Play
The Kentucky Wildcats enter this home bout targeting a third consecutive victory. They dropped the conference opener in a loss to LSU and clobbered Georgia in the next one. Kentucky resumed their strong play with a 78-66 road win against Vanderbilt on Tuesday in a tilt that had the Wildcats labeled as 7.5 point favorites. Kentucky’s only other defeats occurred against Duke and Notre Dame. Kentucky has covered the points in five out of their last seven games overall.
Wildcats’ top scorer Oscar Tshiebwe continues to shine. The junior guard has scored a total of 59 points in his last two games and features an average of 17 PPG on 62% shooting accompanied by a remarkable 15.1 RPG. TyTy Washington Jr. is contributing in all areas. The talented freshman guard scored a solid 17 points in the win against Georgia and is averaging 13.7 PPG and a team-best 4.8 APG. Keion Brooks Jr. has netted at least 10 points in two out of his last five bouts. The junior forward is having a good season, recording 10.7PPG on 50% shooting.
The Wildcats are currently ranked 9th in the country in Ken Pomeroy’s ratings and dipped two spots to #18 in the AP Top 25. Kentucky is averaging 82.6 points, landing them 12th in DI. They are outstanding defensively, limiting foes to only 62.1 points, good for 33rd overall.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
The Tennessee Volunteers have struggled against the strong competition so far in SEC play. They have already lost road decisions to Alabama and LSU by five and 12 points respectively. Kentucky has won six out of their last seven games overall including a 98-69 win against North Carolina.
Furthermore, Kentucky has the better scoring punch. The Volunteers are only averaging 110.4 points per 100 possessions while Kentucky is averaging a stellar 118.6 points. Defensively these foes are even. The Wildcats are also one of the best rebounding teams in the country and John Calipari has his team playing like true championship contenders.
Full-Game Total Pick
I am opting for the over in this one. The Wildcats are sharpshooters. They are sporting a dazzling 49.6% field goal percentage and are one of the highest-scoring teams in DI. They have registered at least 78 points in six out of their last seven games.
In addition, the Volunteers should contribute to this total. They attempt a ton of threes and are averaging a solid 75.3 points on the season. The over is a convincing 4-1 in Kentucky’s last five games against a team with a straight-up winning record.