By RICHARD CHEEKS
After starting the SEC season with three consecutive 20+ point wins, the Cats found themselves in hand to hand combat against the Commodores before throwing them overboard by 6 points in Nashville a week ago. When the Cats returned home to face Auburn on Saturday, the were able to win again by a 20 point margin, but the battle with the Tigers was anything but routine, as the Cats found themselves in a battle throughout much of the second half when Auburn stayed within striking distance at only 4 down, and later 6 down before the Cats’ final push set the final margin at 20.
Tonight, the Cats return to the road at Mississippi State. The conventional view is the SEC road is a difficult place to win. In 2014 and 2016, the home team won 7 of every 10 SEC games, and in 2015 the home team won 53% of all SEC games. Over the prior 3 seasons, the home team has won about 2/3 of all games played, thus the conventional view.
Through the first 2 ½ weeks of SEC competition in the 2017 season, the conventional wisdom is being turned on its head because the visiting team has won 19 of the first 32 SEC games (6 in 10). Should this give the Cats comfort as they enter the Mississippi State dog house or trepidation because despite this unconventional start for the 2017 SEC season, the conventional wisdom will prevail again and that means tougher sledding ahead for all SEC road teams?
MISSISSIPPI STATE enters the game with a 12-4; 3-1 record. The Bulldogs lost games to #72 UCF by 25 at a neutral location, to #91 Lehigh by 14, to East Tennessee State by 2, and to #64 Alabama by 10 all at home. The Bulldogs’ most impressive wins this season has been in their last two games over at #46 Arkansas by 6 and against #59 Texas A&M by 8. MISSISSIPPI STATE enters this game with an ANE of 0.071 points per possession against a strength of schedule of -0.0328 ppp (#275). The Cats enter this game with an ANE of 0.337 ppp against a strength of schedule of 0.0496 ppp (#33).
The ANE analysis indicates a Kentucky win by 14 points, 82-68 at apace of 74 possessions. This would produce game efficiencies of 1.102 ppp and 0.914 ppp. Pomeroy sees this game in Kentucky’s favor by 14 points, 86-72 at a pace of 73 possessions.
Use the following link to see how other UK fans handicap this game at 247Sports, The Cats Pause message board:
You can participate in the score prediction contest at 247Sports at the following link: