SEC Rivals Volunteers and Wildcats meet in Lexington: Tennessee at Kentucky

Tennessee Volunteers at Kentucky Wildcats, Rupp Arena, Lexington, KY
Tuesday, February 8, 2011, 9:00 om Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Kentucky -9 1/2
Current Line: Kentucky -8 1/2
Opening Total: 138
Current Total: 137 1/2
Money Line: Kentucky -420 / Tennessee +345

The Kentucky Wildcats are an 8 1/2 point favorite at home vs arch-rival Tennessee.

Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl returns from an 8 game suspension for violating NCAA rules. Pearl might wish it was a 10 game suspension as he has road games at #18 Kentucky tonight and #17 Florida Saturday. Neither of these teams  have lived up to expectations after both advanced to the Elite 8 last year. Tennessee is 15-8 overall and 5-3 in the SEC while Kentucky is 16-6 overall and 4-4 in conference. Tennessee started off the season 7-0 but then they lost 3 in a row. They have gone 5-5 since then. They have losses to Oakland, Charlotte, USC, Charleston, Arkansas, Florida, UConn, and Alabama. The Volunteers lost at home to Alabama Saturday in overtime 65-60. Tennessee has wins over Missouri St, VCU, Villanova, Pitt, Memphis, Vanderbilt, Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss, and Auburn this season. Kentucky has losses to Connnecticut, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Ole Miss, and Florida. Kentucky lost at Florida Saturday 70-68. The Wildcats have wins over Oklahoma, Washington, Notre Dame, Indiana, Louisville, Penn, Auburn, LSU, South Carolina, and Georgia. Kentucky has lost 2 games in a row. Kentucky leads the overall series 144-66, including 84-16 in Lexington. Kentucky has won and covered 4 of the last 5 in the series. Four of those five have gone under the total.

Tennessee guard Scotty Hopson is questionable with an ankle injury after missing the Vols’ last two games.   He averages 16.5 points to lead the team, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.4 assists a game. Forward Tobias Harris averages 14.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.6 assists a game, and 1 block a game. Guard Cameron Tatum averages 10.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 2.2 assists a game.   Melvin Goins leads the team in assists with 3 a game. Goins also leads the team in steals with 1.6 a game. Brian Williams leads the team in rebounds with 7.7 a game. John Fields leads the team in blocks with 1.5 a game. Tennessee is outscoring opponents 72-67 on the season. The Vols are shooting  43.5% from the field and 31.5% from 3-point range. Tennessee opponents are shooting 41% from the field. The Vols make 68.5% of their free throws. Tennessee pulls down 39.7 rebounds a game and have a rebounding margin of  +6.3. They average 14 assists and 13.7 turnovers a game on defense. Tennessee forces 14.4 turnovers a game on defense. They average 7.2 steals and 4.4 blocks a game.

Kentucky has no significant injuries right now. Kentucky is outscoring opponents 77-63 on the season. Kentucky is a very young team with 5 freshmen among the 10 players on the roster. Four Wildcats score in double figures. Freshman forward Terrance Jones leads the team in scoring with 17.9 ppg, rebounds with 8.9 a game, and blocks with 1.9 a game. He also averages 1.6 assists and 1.2 steals a game.   Point guard Brandon Knight is also a freshman and scores 17.5 ppg, averages 4.2 rebounds and leads the team in assists with 3.8 a game. Freshman shooting guard Doron Lamb is averaging  13.8 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 2.3 assists a game. Darius Miller averages 10 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1 blocks a game. Junior Guard DeAndre Liggins averages 8.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and leads the team in steals with 1.3 a game. Josh Harrellson is averaging 8.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks a game to lead the team. Kentucky is shooting 45.9% from the field and 40.4% from 3 point range. The Wildcats are holding opponents to 38.3% shooting from the field. The Wildcats are shooting 70.3% from the free throw line. Kentucky averages 39.1 rebounds a game and have a rebounding margin of +5.1. The Wildcats are averaging 13 assists and 11.4 turnovers a game. They force 12.8 turnovers a game on defense. Kentucky averages 5.9 steals and 6.6 blocks a game.

Tennessee has not won at Rupp Arena since 2006. Both teams are desperate for a win. Both teams are good at rebounding. Kentucky scores more and is better defensively. I see a close game between these long time rivals.

Our college basketball handicappers are red hot in 2011. Don’t miss out on any more winners this season.

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