Kentucky (17-5, 6-3) at Missouri (14-8, 4-5)
When: Saturday, February 3rd 2018
Where: Mizzou Arena, Columbia, MO
Time: 2:00 ET | TV: ESPN
Opening Odds: Missouri -3
The Kentucky Wildcats have overcome slow starts in their last two games, and things will get even tougher with road games in three of their next four contests, starting with the Missouri Tigers on Saturday afternoon. The Wildcats, who have won each of their 10 all-time meetings with the Tigers, trailed by 17 points before rallying past West Virginia 83-76 on the road last Saturday and were down by 14 in the second half against Vanderbilt before coming back to win 83-81 in overtime. Both teams are young and very inconsistent. Missouri snapped a three-game skid with a 69-60 win at Alabama on Wednesday thanks in large part to its freshmen turning in strong performances. The Tigers are thin in the backcourt, as reserve point guard Terrence Phillips has been suspended indefinitely in the midst of a Title IX investigation while freshman point guard Blake Harris transferred earlier in the season. Missouri is shooting 78.5% from the foul line in league play, second-best in the SEC.
Freshmen account for 86.6% of the Wildcats’ scoring – which is not surprising – and four of their five starters, as well as their top six scorers, are first-year players. Kevin Knox (15.6 points, 5.8 rebounds) picked up National Player of the Week honors last week after averaging 26.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in wins over Mississippi State and West Virginia while Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (12.6, 4.3 assists) is averaging 15.7 points and 4.4 assists in six games since moving into the starting lineup. Hamidou Diallo (12.2 points) and reserve forward P.J. Washington (10.6) also average double digits in points.
The Tigers are also young, but not as talented. Two veterans have emerged as their top offensive threats, however, in graduate transfer Kassius Robertson (16 points) and Jordan Barnett (14.0, 5.9 rebounds). Robertson is averaging 17.2 points in SEC play and has topped 20 in three straight games, while Barnett is shooting 45.3% from 3-point range in SEC games. Freshmen Jeremiah Tilmon (8.3 points) and Jontay Porter (8.1, 6.5 rebounds) both had big games against Alabama and play terrific defense. The Tigers are 31st in the country in defensive field goal percentage (40.4).
It’s hard to predict which of these squads will show up and play, but Kentucky seems to be getting better and I expect them to get off to a faster start in this one and not have to come back. The Wildcats have too much talent for Missouri.
Pick: Kentucky +1.5
- Wildcats are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games following a ATS loss.
- Wildcats are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 vs. Southeastern.
- Tigers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 Saturday games.
- Tigers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up win.
- Over is 4-1 in Wildcats last 5 overall.
- Over is 4-1 in Wildcats last 5 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Under is 10-4 in Wildcats last 14 road games.
- Under is 9-4 in Wildcats last 13 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
- Over is 9-4 in Wildcats last 13 games following a straight up win.
- Under is 11-5 in Wildcats last 16 vs. Southeastern.
- Under is 11-5 in Wildcats last 16 games following a ATS loss.
- Under is 5-1 in Tigers last 6 home games vs. a team with a losing road record.
- Under is 5-2 in Tigers last 7 overall.
- Under is 5-2 in Tigers last 7 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Under is 5-2 in Tigers last 7 vs. Southeastern.
- Home team is 4-0 ATS in the last 4 meetings.
- Wildcats are 5-2 ATS in the last 7 meetings.
- Favorite is 5-2 ATS in the last 7 meetings.