By RICHARD CHEEKS
On Saturday evening, the Cats entered Georgia’s Stegman Arena for what is usually a hard fought basketball battle with the Dawgs. The Cats have won 4 of 6 games in Athens during the Calipari Era, but most of these games have been undecided at the final media timeout of the game. Saturday’s game played out according to this script again.
After 14 SEC games, the Cats and the Gators stand tied, 12-2, with four games remaining on the regular schedule. The Gators hold the 22 point beat down of the Cats in Gainesville to their credit with losses to Vanderbilt and at South Carolina. The Cats add a loss at Tennessee to the Gator beat down. The Gators are scheduled to appear in Rupp Arena Saturday for the game that will determine the 2017 SEC regular season champion. Prior to that conference championship showdown, the Gators host South Carolina and the Cats travel to Missouri.
MISSOURI enters this game with a 7-19; 2-12 record. Missouri opened their season with 5 wins in their first 8 games, but their best win in this stretch of games was a 3 point win over #242 Western Kentucky. The Tigers then lost 13 in a row between December 10 and February 2. Missouri ended their losing streak with a 5-point win over #50 Arkansas at home, and followed up that home win with a 20-point win over #56 Vanderbilt at home. MISSOURI enters this game with an ANE of 0.013 points per possession against a strength of schedule of 0.0513 ppp (#69).
The Cats enter this game with an ANE of 0.296 ppp against a strength of schedule of 0.0915 ppp (#27). The ANE analysis indicates a Kentucky win by 15 points, 81-66 at apace of 75 possessions. This would produce game efficiencies of 1.079 ppp and 0.879 ppp. Pomeroy sees this game in Kentucky’s favor by 17 points 85-68 at a pace of 74 possessions, and Vegas has opened with the Cats favored by 16 ½.
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