OUtside of Florida, the SEC is still a toss-up and that includes Kentucky who already has two Conference losses. The Wildcats are No. 11 in the rankings, but will likely fall after losing to LSU earlier this week. With three losses in Four tries, Kentucky will have to win a meaningful road Game at some point this year and it could be this one.
Missouri has a nice 16-4 record, but its RPI of 42 tells a bigger story. The Tigers didn’t have a great non-Conference Schedule. Beating UCLA and losing to Illinois were the highlights. Conference losses to Georgia and Vanderbilt are a big reason why their RPI isn’t a little higher. Missouri did look good on Tuesday beating a tough Arkansas team on the road, something Kentucky was unable to do. Much like Kentucky, Mizzou needs one of those big wins and this could be it before a traveling to Florida next week.
Both teams are led by great offenses and great rebounding. In their three road losses, the Wildcats gave up at least 82 points in each. Missouri is a great home team and outside of that Georgia Game, has continued to pick up big wins at home.
The biggest matchup in this Game will be Julius Randle and whoever Missouri throws at him. Fellow Missouri freshman Johnathan Williams III will be asked to deal with him to start, but if he gets into foul trouble, the senior Tony Criswell could become a factor. Randle had one of his worst Games of the season at LSU on Tuesday, so he’ll be hoping to bounce back. Willey Cauley-Stein is a block master in the middle for the Wildcats and he’ll lineup against Ryan Rosburg, who’s less athletic.
The battle between backcOurts will be fun to watch as well with most of Missouri’s scoring coming from their three starting guards. Jabari Brown (19.8 PPG), Jordan Clarkson (18.5 PPG) and Earnest Ross (14.5 PPG) can all fill it up and need to be guarded tightly. Brown will probably be the biggest worry as he’s scored at least 22 points in fight straight Games and has shot 20-of-29 from long range in that time period. That’s a scary good percentage.
OUtside of Randle, Kentucky has a few more freshmen that the average college basketball fan has likely heard too much of at this point. James Young (14.7 PPG), Aaron Harrison (13.8 PPG) and Andrew Harrison (11.0 PPG) usually have a size advantage in every Game, but that won’t be the case in this one. Andrew, the point guard, needs to have an efficient Game for the Wildcats. Otherwise, he becomes somewhat of a liability. He’s shooting 37 percent on the year while turning it over 2.5 times per Game with only 0.4 steals per Game. His twin, Aaron, is a much better shooter, but even his numbers are down in Conference play, having not surpassed 16 points in an SEC Game yet. Young has been key for this team as he’s their best three-point shooter.
When the Tigers come to play on their home cOurt, not many teams can beat them. They’ll definitely come out firing against the Wildcats and could easily give Kentucky a two-Game losing streak.
Missouri’s experience and home-cOurt advantage will be big factors and could end up determining the winner in this one.
Our Model’s Predicted Score- Kentucky 79 Missouri 71
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