All eyes will be on Rupp Arena on Saturday night when the Kentucky Wildcats host the Tennessee Volunteers. This game could go a long way towards deciding the regular season SEC Champ, but Tennessee enters this game in the driver’s seat. The Volunteers are the top-ranked team in the country, while Kentucky checks in at number five.
Tennessee brings a perfect 11-0 conference record into this game, and have only lost one game the entire season. The Volunteers are outscoring opponents by almost 18 points per game this season, and have a veteran team. Kentucky is a young team that is still trying to figure things out, and come in with a 9-2 record in SEC play. The Wildcats are -3.0 over Tennessee in this game.
Tennessee Offense is Rolling
The Tennessee Volunteers are averaging more than 85 points per game this season, and they can put up points in a hurry. Tennessee can score in a variety of ways, and even though Kentucky is one of the best defensive teams in the country, they won’t be able to completely shut down the Volunteers. The Volunteers are shooting better than 51 percent from the field, and are making close to 37 percent of their three-point shots. The Tennessee roster is loaded with offensive studs.
Forward Grant Williams is the biggest star for Tennessee, putting up 19.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game this season. Kentucky will have plenty of size to throw at him, but Williams has more than enough strength. Admiral Schofield is the best perimeter player for the Vols, averaging 16.7 points while shooting better than 40 percent from three. Tennessee has three other players averaging double-figures on the season, and they are all capable of leading the team if necessary.
Kentucky Must Slow the Game Down
Kentucky has plenty of talent on their roster as well, but they can’t score as quickly or efficiently as the Volunteers. If the Wildcats are going to pull off the upset, they are going to have to get this game played at their pace. Kentucky is giving up just 65.5 points per game on the season but gave up 73 points to LSU in their loss earlier this week. If the Wildcats aren’t locked in on defense in this game, it could be a long night.
Forward P.J. Washington continues to improve for Kentucky and leads the team with 14.4 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. He will need to provide some inside scoring to take pressure off of guards Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro. Johnson and Herro have combined to score better than 27 points per game this season, and both are terrific shooters when given some space. Kentucky has enough offense to compete in this game, but their defense will have to set the tone.
Kentucky Pulls Off Win
Tennessee has yet to lose an SEC game this season, but they have had some close calls along the way. The Volunteers look like a Final Four contender, but they are due for a loss, and Rupp Arena is a tough place to play. Coach John Calipari will have his team ready to play after a stunning loss to LSU earlier in the week. Bet the Kentucky Wildcats -3.0 over the Tennessee Volunteers in this game.