Kentucky Wildcats (27-1 SU, 15-11 ATS) vs. Tennessee Volunteers (20-7 SU, 10-13-1 ATS), 12:00 p.m. EST, Saturday, February 27, 2010, Thompson-Boling Arena, Knoxville, Tenn. TV: CBS
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Kentucky -2/Tennessee +2
Kentucky has flirted with road losses twice in the last two weeks. First, the Wildcats survived in overtime at Mississippi State, and then they got a dramatic two-point victory at Vanderbilt. But still, the ‘Cats are 27-1 overall and 12-1 in the SEC with their only loss all season long coming at South Carolina, a loss that was avenged Thursday night with a 21-point home victory over the Gamecocks. Their best chance to lose a game before the end of the regular season will be on Saturday when they travel to Knoxville to face Tennessee, a team that has the privilege of being the only team to knock off No. 1 Kansas this season. Could the Vols make it two home victories this season over top-2 opponents?
Kentucky has had plenty of chances to lose games this season. But almost every time, the ‘Cats have come up with the clutch plays down the stretch to pull out the victories. It’s been mostly John Wall making those clutch plays all season long. Against Vanderbilt, Wall hit a pair of free throws and had a key block in the final minute to preserve the victory. Against Mississippi State, Patrick Patterson hit a game-tying jumper at the end of regulation and then Wall scored five points in overtime.
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On Thursday, Kentucky won 82-61 at home over South Carolina. Patterson continued his strong play with 23 points on 10-of-12 shooting from the field. Wall had one of his worst games of the season with 12 points on 4-of-16 shooting and five assists. DeMarcus Cousins continued his ridiculously dominant play with 19 points and 14 rebounds. Cousins has scored exactly 19 points in each of the last three games. He has scored in double figures in 19 of the last 20 games and has grabbed double-digit rebounds in 10 of the last 11 games. In the win over South Carolina, Kentucky shot 49 percent from the field and 3-for-11 from 3-point range. The ‘Cats out-rebounded the Gamecocks, 43-24. It’s difficult to lose games with a 19-rebound advantage on the boards. They held South Carolina to 38 percent shooting and 4-for-21 shooting from 3-point range.
Tennessee is currently 20-7 overall and 8-5 in the SEC. The Vols have lost conference games to Georgia, Vanderbilt (twice), Kentucky and Florida. Other than the signature win over Kansas, the Vols’ next best wins are over Florida and Ole Miss. The Vols have only lost one home game all season long and that was an 85-76 loss to Vanderbilt on January 27.
In Tennessee’s last game, the Vols lost 75-62 at Florida on Tuesday. The game was tied at the half but the Gators pulled away in the second half. Scotty Hopson led the Vols with 20 points, including four 3-pointers. Cameron Tatum scored 13 points and Bobby Maze had 11 points. The Vols shot 40 percent from the field and 10-for-23 on 3-pointers. They were out-rebounded by nine, and allowed the Gators to shoot 51 percent from the field and 5-for-14 on 3-pointers.
The one statistical advantage that the Vols have in this game is in the turnover department. In conference play, the ‘Cats are committing more turnovers than they are forcing (14.4-13.9), while the Vols have a +1.4 turnover differential. The biggest advantage for the ‘Cats comes in the form of rebounding, where they are +7.1 in conference play and the Vols are -0.6 in conference play. Both teams are shooting an identical 30.9 percent from 3-point range in conference play. Tennessee’s opponents are shooting 31.4 percent on 3-pointers while Kentucky is holding opponents to 27.4 percent. Kentucky is shooting 46 percent from the field in conference play and holding opponents to 38 percent, while Tennessee is shooting 43 percent and holding opponents to 40 percent.
Kentucky is 4-0 ATS in its last four games overall and 7-2 ATS in its last nine road games. Tennessee is 2-5 ATS in its last seven games following an ATS loss, 1-4 ATS in its last five home games, and 2-8 ATS in its last 10 games overall. Kentucky is 5-0 ATS in the last five meetings between these teams and 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings at Tennessee. The home team is 5-2 ATS in the last meetings between these teams. The under is 4-1 in the last five meetings between these teams, but the over is 4-1 in the last five meetings at Tennessee.
Ryno’s Pick: This will be a great game to watch. It should be close throughout with the better team winning and covering: KENTUCKY.