Missouri Kentucky CBB

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Missouri

vs.

Kentucky

College Basketball

Pick

2/24/18

It’s been an extremely weird SEC season and Kentucky having the same Conference record as five other teams including Missouri, highlights that. The Tigers have impressed this season, but the NCAA Tournament still isn’t guaranteed at this point. Winning in Lexington would change that, but it won’t come easy against a team that can’t afford more home losses.

Last home Game, UK played arguably one of its better Conference Games of the season, taking care of Alabama while getting production from almost everyone in the lineup. It was a repeat in Tuesday’s big win at Arkansas. That’ll have to be the case going forward and especially in this Game after only one player had more than eight points in the first meeting between these teams. Missouri led most of the way and forced Kentucky to shoot 2-of-20 from three-point range. More surprising was that the Tigers took five more threes than twos and still won handily. Of course, that was also helped by 24 made free throws.

But as everyone knows, playing on the road is much different than at home so it’s hard to see Missouri winning through the same method. Kentucky will undoubtedly shoot better and Missouri probably won’t draw as many fouls. The Tigers rank second in the SEC in defensive efficiency, but it’s unlikely Kentucky will go 21-of-67 from the field again. Kevin Knox had just five points in that first meeting and he’s the guy that can turn things around with that being his second-lowest scoring total of the season.

Size wise, these teams aren’t much different. Jontay Porter and Jeremiah Tilmon are athletic bigs, while Jordan Barnett and Kevin Puryear switch between forward positions both at 6-foot-7. That was key in the first meeting because Knox usually has an athletic or size edge when he plays, but with Barnett and Puryear both more than capable at defending him, Knox had trouble. The difference again will be point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who was the only Kentucky player that did much of anything in that first Game finishing with 15 points and six assists. His quickness and size at guard is unmatched by most in the Conference and that goes for Missouri’s Jordan Geist and Kassius Robertson.

The Wildcats look like a much better team in recent wins and that’s the main reason to take them here. Quade Green has played a lot with Gilgeous-Alexander in the backcOurt, while PJ Washington and Jarred Vanderbilt have been key off the bench. At the end of the day, Kentucky is a deeper team and more skilled and if it can repeat its last two Games, it could be another double-digit win.

The Tigers had their way in that first Game, but they’ve had trouble winning consistently on the road, already with double-digit point losses to Texas A&M and Mississippi State. The way for them to win or at least stay close will be to hold Kentucky to terrible shooting numbers again, while also getting easy looks inside the arc. It’s hard to see the Wildcats not showing up at home and that’s a good enough reason to take them.

Our Pick – Kentucky -5.5