Kentucky Wildcats and Auburn Tigers Battle in SEC Action

#2 Kentucky Wildcats at Auburn Tigers
Auburn Arena – Auburn, Alabama
Wednesday, January 11, 2012, 8:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN Full Court, SEC Network
Opening Line: Kentucky -17 1/2
Current Line: Kentucky -17 1/2
Opening Total: 135 1/2
Current Total: 135 1/2
Opening Money Line: Kentucky -2105 / Auburn +1305
Current Money Line: Kentucky -2105 / Auburn +1305

Anthony Davis and Kentucky are heavy road favorites in SEC action Wednesday night at Auburn.

The 15-1 Kentucky Wildcats are #2 in the country in both polls. The Wildcats opened SEC play Saturday with a 79-64 win over South Carolina. Now, Knetucky goes on the road to take on the 10-5 Auburn Tigers, who were crushed 65-35 at Vanderbilt in their conference opener Saturday. As you might expect, Kentucky has dominated Auburn with an 85-17 record in the series. The Wildcats have beaten Auburn 12 straight times, and in 26 of the last 27 including 78-54 in Lexington last year in the only meeting between the two schools. Kentucky is 27-13 all time at Auburn. The Tigers haven’t beaten Kentucky since 2000.

Kentucky is coached by John Calipari. The only loss for the Cats came at one loss Indiana by one point. Kentucky has wins over Kansas, Penn St, Old Dominion, Portland, St. John’s, North Carolina, and Louisville. The Wildcats have won 6 straight since the Indiana loss, all by double digits except for the Louisville game.

Auburn is coached by Tony Barbee. Barbee played for Calipari at UMass and was his top assistant coach and recruiter at Memphis. Auburn started off the season 8-1, but has gone 2-4 in their last 6 games. The Tigers have losses at Seton Hall, Long Beach St & UTEP in a tournament in Hawaii Christmas weekend, and at Florida St in addition to the Vanderbilt loss. The Tigers have wins over South Florida and Hawaii, but their other wins are over cupcakes.

Kentucky is outscoring opponents 81-59 this season. The Wildcats are shooting 49.1% from the field and 36.8% from 3 point range. Kentucky is in the top 15 nationally in scoring and field goal percentage. The Wildcats make 71% from the free throw line. Kentucky is 5th nationally in rebounding with 41.8 boards a game, with a rebounding margin of +8.8. The Wildcats average 14.3 assists, 13.7 steals, 6.7 steals, and 9.3 blocks a game. Kentucky opponents are shooting 35% from the field and 30.7% from 3 point range. The Wildcats are first nationally in opponents’ field goal percentage. Kentucky forces 14.1 turnovers a game.

Kentucky is the only school in the country with 6 players averaging double digits in scoring. Guard Doron Lamb averages 14.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.1 assists a game. He is shooting 46.9% from 3 point range. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist averages 13.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.1 blocks a game. Freshman forward sensation Anthony Davis averages 12.7 points, 10.6 rebounds, 1.4 steals, and 4.6 blocks a game. He leads the Wildcats in rebounds, steals, and blocks. Terrence Jones averages 11.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.8 blocks a game. Marquis Teague averages 10.8 points, 2.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists to lead the team, and 1.3 steals a game. Darius Miller averages 10.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.6 assists a game. Guards Jon Hood and Sam Malone are both out indefinitely with knee injuries.

Auburn is outscoring opponents 66-65 this season. The Tigers are shooting 43.8% from the field, including 32.5% from 3 point range. Auburn makes 64.7% of their free throws. The Tigers average 35 rebounds a game and have a rebounding margin of +0.5. Auburn averages 13.7 assists, 14.1 turnovers, 6.9 steals, and 5.9 blocks a game. Tiger opponents are shooting 41% from the field, including 34.6% from 3 point range. Auburn forces 14.5 turnovers a game.

Auburn forward Kenny Gabriel averages 11.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.5 steals, and 2.7 blocks a game. He leads the team in scoring, rebounds, steals andblocks. Guard Frankie Sullivan averages 11.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.2 steals a game. Chris Densen averages 10.7 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.4 assists a game. The top 3 scorers all shoot at least 37% from 3 point range. Rob Chubb averages 9.7 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 1.2 blocks a game.  Varez Ward averages 9.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 4.1 assists a game to lead the team. Forward Bernard Morena is out indefinitely with a hand injury and guard Cedrick McAfee is also out indefinitely with an ankle injury.

Auburn is 2-6 against the spread and the total is 4-4 this season. Kentucky is 3-11-1 ATS and the total is 6-9 this season. The road team is 6-2 ATS in the last 8 in this series, and the last 4 have gone under the total. Five of last six played at Auburn have gone under the total. The Wildcats are 9-2 ATS in road games after 3 or more consecutive home games, 5-2 in road games, and in road games against teams with winning home records, 3-9 in Wednesday games, 3-12-1 overall, 0-8-1 after failing to cover, 0-10-1 after a straight up win, and 0-7-1 against teams with winning records. The Tigers are 10-4 ATS after a straight up loss, 33-16-2 in SEC games, 2-5 against teams with winning records, 1-4 after a straight up loss of more than 20 points, and 0-5 overall.

Kentucky is obviously the stronger team here, and could win this by 40 if they wanted to. However, Calipari will call off the dogs ( or should I say Cats?) against his friend, as he doesn’t want to humiliate him. Kentucky has only covered 3 games this season in 15 lined games. This is because Kentucky is usually such a heavy favorite, sometimes by as much as 30 points, it leaves them open to back door covers. I can easily see that happening here as well. Take the points with Auburn.

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