SEC Rivals Clash In Knoxville: #25 Kentucky Wildcats at Tennessee Volunteers

#25 Kentucky Wildcats at Tennessee Volunteers
Saturday, February 16, 2013, 1:00 pm Eastern, TV: CBS (regional)
Thompson-Boling Arena – Knoxville, Tennessee
Opening Line: Kentucky -1 1/2
Current Line: Kentucky -1
Opening Total: 132
Current Total: 134
Opening Money Line: Kentucky -125 / Tennessee -105
Current Money Line: Kentucky -120 / Tennessee +100 

Kentucky is a slight favorite at SEC rival Tennessee Saturday.
Kentucky is a slight favorite at SEC rival Tennessee Saturday.

Not only did Kentucky lose at SEC rival Florida Tuesday night 69-52 in a battle for first in the conference, but the Wildcats also lost likely #1 NBA draft pick freshman forward Nerlens Noel to a torn ACL.  Now the 17-7 Wildcats find themselves tied with Alabama for second in the SEC with an 8-3 mark. Both teams are behind 10-1 Florida. Kentucky travels to rival Tennessee Saturday. The 13-10 Volunteers are 5-6 in the SEC tied for 5th in the conference with LSU and Texas A&M. However 8 teams are ahead of the Vols.

The Wildcats lead the series 149-66. Kentucky has won 6 straight against Tennessee, 9 of the last 10, and 20 of the last 24 games in the series. Kentucky won last month in Lexington 75-65. Tennessee missed two crucial free throws in that game that would have made it a one possession game with 42 seconds left, and Kentucky made their free throws to win by 10.

Kentucky is coached by John Calipari. The Wildcats have losses to Duke in Atlanta, at Notre Dame, Louisville and Alabama and at home against Baylor and Texas A&M. Most of Kentucky’s non-conference wins came against some weak competition. They do have wins over Maryland in Brooklyn, and Portland, Marshall and Eastern Michigan at home. The Wildcats have SEC wins at Vanderbilt, Auburn, Ole Miss, and Texas A&M, along with home wins over LSU, South Carolina and Auburn. Before the Florida loss, the Wildcats had won 5 straight games, and 7 of the last 8.  Kentucky is 8-13 ATS and the total is 10-10 this season.

Kentucky is outscoring teams 75-63 this season. The Wildcats are #32 in scoring nationally. Kentucky is shooting 48.6% from the field and 36.1% from 3 point range. The Wildcats are #12 in field goal percentage. Kentucky struggles at the free throw line hitting just 64.6% from the stripe. The Wildcats average 38.9 rebounds per game, and allow 29.8 to opponents. Kentucky is #26 in rebounding. Wildcat opponents are shooting 38.2% from the field and 31% from 3 point range. Kentucky is #19 in opponents’ field goal percentage. The Wildcats average 15 assists, 6 steals, 7 blocks, and 13 turnovers per game.

Guard Archie Goodwin averages 13.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. Forward Alex Poythress averages 12 points and 6.3 rebounds. Forward Kyle Wiltjer averages 11.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.8 assists. Noel averaged 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 2.1 steals, and 4.5 blocks per game. He led the nation in blocks per game.  Ryan Harrow averages 9.9 points, 2.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1 steal per game. Guard Julius Mays averages 9.3 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 3 assists per game.Willie Cauley-Stein averages 7.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1.7 blocks per game. Jarrod Polson also gets minutes in the rotation. Guard Twany Beckham is out indefinitely with a back injury. Kentucky is very young with 9 freshmen and sophomores on the roster.

Tennessee is coached by Cuonzo Martin. The Volunteers have losses to Oklahoma St in a tournament in Puerto Rico, at Georgetown, Virginia, Alabama, Kentucky, and home against Memphis, Ole Miss twice, at Arkansas, and Georgia . Tennessee has key wins over UNC-Asheville and Massachusetts in Puerto Rico, Oakland, Wichita St, Xavier, Mississippi St, Alabama, Vanderbilt twice, and at South Carolina. The Volunteers won at Vanderbilt 58-46 Wednesday for their second straight road win. Tennessee is 11-10 ATS and the total is 7-10 this season.

Tennessee is outscoring teams 64-62 this season. Tennessee shoots 42.9% from the field and 28.6% from 3 point range. The Vols are #330 in three point shooting out of 347 teams.  The Volunteers make 67.6% of their free throws. Tennessee averages 36.3 rebounds per game and gives up 27.7. The Volunteers are #37 in rebounds allowed. Tennessee opponents are shooting 41.4% from the field and 30.9% from 3 point range. Tennessee averages 10 assists, 4 steals, 4 blocks and 13 turnovers per game.

Guard Jordan McRae averages 13.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.8 assists. Forward Jarnell Stokes averages 12.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.3 blocks a game. Guard Trae Golden averages 10.4 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 3.8 assists a game. Guard Josh Richardson averages 8.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals. Forward Kenny Hall averages 6.3 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.  Guard Skylar McBee averages 5.3 points per game. Guard Derek Reese averages 4.3 points and 2.3 rebounds. He missed the first 11 games with a knee injury.  Forward Jeronne Maymon is out indefinitely but hasn’t played yet this season. Forward Dwight Miller left the team after a shoulder injury.

Kentucky is 9-21-1 ATS after failing to cover, 3-8 overall, 2-6-1 after a straight up loss, 2-6 against teams with winning records, 3-11 in SEC games, and 1-4 in Saturday games. The Wildcats are 9-3 ATS in the last 12 against the Volunteers. The under is 8-1 in the series recently including 4-1 in Knoxville.

Tennessee is 4-1 ATS after a cover, 10-4 in Saturday games, 1-4 after allowing less than 50 points, and 1-6 at home. The home team is 7-2 ATS in this series recently.

We don’t know how Kentucky will react with the loss of Noel. The injury happened in the first half, so they played the second half against Florida without him. Kentucky was destroyed, but Florida is one of the best teams in the country. Tennessee is not, to say the least. Kentucky has owned their Southern border rivals recently, and I think they continue that trend in a hard fought contest.

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