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It’s a showdown of top five teams from the SEC on the parquet floor in one of the most hallowed halls in college hoops. The #1 Tennessee Volunteers are on the road as they make the trip to face the #5 Kentucky Wildcats Saturday night. Tennessee knocked off South Carolina 85-73 at home Wednesday night in their last contest. Kentucky was edged 73-71 at home by #19 LSU in their last contest Tuesday night. The Wildcats own a 98-44 advantage in the all-time series and took the last matchup, 77-72, in the title game of the SEC Tournament on March 11, 2018.
Tennessee Volunteers Seek 20th Straight Victory
Tennessee set a school record with their 19th consecutive victory as they took down South Carolina at home. The Volunteers are undefeated in SEC action at 11-0 and hold a one-game edge over LSU for the top spot. Tennessee led 19-18 with 11:50 to play in the opening half and took control with a 14-0 run to take a 15-point edge. The Volunteers didn’t see the lead trimmed below 12 after that point to pick up the victory. Tennessee shot 49.3 percent from the field, including nine of 20 from beyond the arc, and won the rebounding battle 40-33. Admiral Schofield led the Volunteers with 21 points and 10 rebounds in the win.
Let's review, shall we? pic.twitter.com/nCvif16SyH
— Tennessee Basketball (@Vol_Hoops) February 14, 2019
The Volunteers are putting up an impressive 85.4 points per game on the season. Tennessee is pulling down 38.1 rebounds a night while dishing out 20 assists per game. The Volunteers are excellent on the defensive end, ranking 78th in the country by allowing 67.5 points per game. Grant Williams leads the team with 19.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game this season. Admiral Schofield (16.7 points, 6.4 boards), Jordan Bone (13.2 points) and Jordan Bowden (11.5 points) are all averaging in double figures this season. Kyle Alexander (8.5 points, 6.9 rebounds), Lamonte Turner (11.7 points), John Fulkerson and Yves Pons each put up at least three points a game for the Volunteers. Tennessee shoots 51.5 percent from the field as a team this season. The Volunteers knock down 6.8 triples a night while shooting 36.8 percent from beyond the arc. Tennessee is cashing in a solid 76.7 percent of their attempts at the charity stripe this season.
Kentucky Wildcats Hope to Bounce Back From Last-Second Loss
Kentucky had their 10-game win streak snapped as they were knocked off in controversial fashion by LSU in their last contest. The Wildcats fell to 9-2 in conference play, leaving them two games behind Tennessee for the top spot in the SEC. Kentucky led by eight at the half and by as many as nine in the second half before being tied in the final seconds. The Wildcats gave up a tip-in off a missed shot right before the buzzer to end up with the loss. Kentucky shot 41.7 percent from the field, including five of 19 from three-point range, and clanked seven of 23 free throw attempts. PJ Washington led the Wildcats with 20 points and nine assists in the loss.
"I need you back. Can I count on you?"
Doors open at 9:30 a.m. The show starts at 11.
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) February 14, 2019
The Wildcats are putting up an average of 78.4 points per game on the year. Kentucky is pulling down 39.2 rebounds per contest while dishing out 14.2 assists per game. The Wildcats are 41st in the nation in scoring defense as they allow an average of 65.5 points a night. Keldon Johnson is second the team with 14 points plus 5.3 rebounds per game. Tyler Herro (13.3 points, four rebounds), Reid Travis (11.6 points, seven rebounds) and PJ Washington (team-high 14.4 points, 8.1 rebounds) each are averaging in double figures. Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley and EJ Montgomery each put up at least 4.2 points per game. Kentucky shoots 47.5 percent from the floor as a team on the year. The Wildcats connect on 6.1 three-pointers a game while shooting 35.3 percent from long range. Kentucky is excellent at the charity stripe as they cash in 74.6 percent of their chances.
- Wildcats are 5-11 ATS in their last 16 games following a straight up loss
- Volunteers are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 Saturday games
- Volunteers are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600
- Volunteers are 12-3-1 ATS in their last 16 road games following three or more consecutive home games
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
This one is going to be a highly entertaining affair between two of the top three teams in the SEC. Tennessee has the advantage as far as scoring depth goes and they will push the pace on Kentucky in this one. Both teams are excellent on the glass and they are solid on the defensive end of the floor. Tennessee has experience as they brought back the nucleus of last season’s team, which owned a share of the SEC regular season crown. Calipari had to start over with a bunch of freshmen: Washington and Travis can’t make up for the inexperience of the rest of the rotation. Tennessee gets the upper hand in this one to overcome a very hostile environment.
Prediction: Tennessee Volunteers
Full-Game Total Pick
Expect a highly entertaining tilt here with contrasting forms. Tennessee is 7th in the nation in scoring offense, 2nd in field goal percentage, 66th in three-point percentage and 11th in free throw percentage this season. Kentucky is better in scoring defense and they are stingy in field goal percentage defense (40th at 40.7 percent) but they have their struggles on the perimeter as they are 248th in three-point percentage defense as opposing teams knock down 35.1 percent from beyond the arc. Will the Wildcats defend their home floor here or will they suffer a second straight defeat?
The under is 4-1-1 in the Volunteers’ last 6 vs. a team with a winning straight up record and 16-6 in their last 22 games following an ATS loss. Kentucky has seen the under go 4-0 in their last four overall, 4-0 in their last 4 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600, 5-0 in their last 5 home games and 4-0 in their last four against SEC opponents. The under is 10-1-2 in the last 13 meetings in Kentucky and 15-5-2 in the last 22 meetings overall. The defenses carry the day just enough to keep this one under the total.