There is a lot at stake on Saturday when the Tennessee Volunteers host the Kentucky Wildcats in an SEC Showdown. The winner of this game will remain in first place in the SEC standings, and will also likely have the inside edge at a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament. Kentucky blew out Tennessee in the first meeting of the season, winning by a score of 86-69 at Rupp Arena.
The Volunteers have gone just 2-2 in their last four games after rolling out to a 23-1 start to the regular season. Tennessee survived a close call against Ole Miss in their previous game, and appear to be slumping a bit. Kentucky used the Tennessee win to catapult their season, and the Wildcats have won four straight games to improve to 24-4. Tennessee is -2.5 in this rematch against Kentucky.
Wildcats Playing Without Reid Travis
Kentucky will be shorthanded for this matchup against Tennessee as graduate transfer Reid Travis is still out with injury. The center is averaging 13.6 points and 5.7 rebounds per game this season, but the Wildcats will miss him most on the defensive end of the floor against Williams. Kentucky is allowing just under 65 points per game this season, and have been getting the job done on defense all season long. The Wildcats will need some other post players to step up on Saturday.
This isn’t one of the most explosive Kentucky offensive teams of the past decade, but they still have plenty of talent. Sophomore forward PJ Washington is leading the team with 15.0 points and 7.8 rebounds per game this season, and he has emerged as the Wildcats top scoring threat. Guards Tyler Herro and Keldon Johnson have combined for more than 27 points per game this season, and can both make shots with consistency. Kentucky will need to score points to keep up with Tennessee.
Tennessee Veterans Carrying Volunteers
Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes has one of the oldest teams in college basketball, and the veterans are looking to carry the Volunteers on a deep run in March. The Volunteers have a ton of offensive weapons on this roster, and come into this game averaging 83.2 points per contest. Tennessee is shooting better than 50 percent from the field, and they have five different players averaging double-figures.
Junior forward Grant Williams is leading Tennessee with 19.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game this season, but had his hands full in the first matchup with Kentucky. Senior guard Admiral Schofield is the best perimeter scoring threat for the Volunteers, making over 40 percent of his three-point attempts and averaging better than 16 points per game. Tennessee will need their senior leaders to play great in this game.
Tennessee Gets Revenge on “Big Blue”
There is no doubt that Kentucky is playing much better than Tennessee at this point of the season, but winning on the road is never an easy task. The veteran players of Tennessee know how to defend their home court, and they won’t let the home crowd down in this game. Expect the Volunteers to push the pace and put up a ton of points in this game. Bet the Tennessee Volunteers -2.5 over the Kentucky Wildcats in this SEC Showdown.