KENTUCKY WILDCATS (15-4)
at LSU TIGERS (12-6)
Pete Maravich Assembly Center - Baton Rouge, LA
Tip-off: Tuesday, 9:00 p.m. ET
Line: Kentucky -3.5, Total: 144.5
No. 11 Kentucky tries to extend its win streak to four games when it begins a two-game road trip Tuesday at LSU.
Before the Wildcats won three in a row (2-1 ATS) in blowout fashion (16.7 PPG margin), they lost at Arkansas on Jan. 14 on a last-second, put-back dunk at the end of overtime. That dropped Kentucky (8-9 ATS overall, 3-3 ATS in SEC) to 0-3 ATS in true road games this season. The Tigers are coming off a narrow 82-80 road loss in Alabama, following two consecutive home wins against Missouri and Vanderbilt. That improved LSU (5-7-2 ATS overall, 2-2-2 ATS in SEC) to 3-3 ATS at home this season, where it has outscored its 10 visitors by 12.8 PPG. The Wildcats playing poorly on the road is nothing new, as they are 2-12 ATS in road games over the past two seasons when playing only their second game in a week. But John Calipari is 6-0 ATS as the head coach of Kentucky after 15+ games in the season against teams who average at least 40.0 RPG. The Wildcats have won the past five meetings between these programs, though LSU has covered in the past two games. Kentucky is also 6-2 (SU and ATS) in Baton Rouge since 1998.
Can LSU pick up a key SEC victory over Kentucky on Tuesday? For the latest college basketball picks, check out The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts selections every week throughout the entire 2013-14 season. The StatFox Experts have been rolling in college basketball Best Bets this season with a 60% ATS (175-117-8) mark, including a stellar 63% ATS (143-83-3) record since Nov. 23. StatFox Brian is at 64% ATS (37-21-2) in Best Bets for the season and 68% ATS (30-14-1) since Nov. 26. StatFox Dave is 63% ATS (37-22-1) for the season and 74% ATS (20-7) since Dec. 18, while StatFox Zach is a strong 59% ATS (34-24-1) on Best Bets this season, including 62% ATS (28-17) since Nov. 22. StatFox Scott is also 59% ATS (35-24) for the season and 63% ATS (25-15) since Dec. 2, while StatFox Gary is 56% ATS (32-25-2) for the season, and 62% ATS (26-16) since Nov. 29.
Kentucky ranks fifth in the nation with 42.4 total RPG, third in the country in offensive RPG (13.5), and boasts a hefty +10.9 RPG margin overall. Although the club has been outrebounded in two of its past three games, it won both of those contests. Rebounding hasn’t been the problem on the road for the Wildcats—in their road defeats to Arkansas and UNC, they outrebounded those two teams by a combined 40 boards. Kentucky is a strong offensive team with 79.6 PPG (30th in Div. I) on 47.4% FG (47th in nation), but makes a paltry 31.5% of its threes. The defense is tough though, as it allows 65.5 PPG on 38.7% FG (18th in Div. I) and 30.3% threes. But while its hefty 6.9 BPG ranks fourth in the nation, the meager 4.6 SPG ranks 328th in Division I. Freshman PF Julius Randle (16.6 PPG, 10.5 RPG) leads the Wildcats in scoring and rebounding, though he turns it over a whopping 3.2 times per game. Randle hasn't missed much during his team's win streak, averaging 15.0 PPG on 61% FG (14-of-23). He’s joined down low by the club's defensive stopper, sophomore C Willie Cauley-Stein (8.0 PPG, 6.8 RPG), who swats 3.4 shots per game, including six blocks in Saturday's 79-54 romp over Georgia. In addition to Randle, the team’s other three leading scorers are all freshmen: SG James Young (14.2 PPG, 4.4 RPG), SG Aaron Harrison (13.7 PPG, 46% FG) and PG Andrew Harrison (11.1 PPG, 36 APG). But since his 26-point, 0-turnover performance versus Tennessee, Andrew Harrison has just 7.5 PPG (29% FG), nine assists and seven turnovers in the past two contests.
LSU should be able to compete with Kentucky on the glass, averaging 41.3 RPG (11th in Div. I) and a +4.9 RPG margin. The Tigers have also been strong on the defensive end, holding teams to 69.0 PPG on 39.2% FG (18th in nation), numbers that improve considerably at home (63.4 PPG allowed on 36.3% FG). They need to play especially hard on defense because their offense is just average, scoring 76.1 PPG (77th in nation) on 44.6% FG (163rd in Div. I) and 33.1% threes. Junior PF Johnny O’Bryant III (14.6 PPG, 7.3 RPG) leads the team in scoring and rebounding, also adding 1.0 BPG. He’s averaging 18.7 PPG (53% FG) over the past three contests and starred in last season's narrow 75-70 loss to the Wildcats in Lexington, putting up 21 points and 12 rebounds. Freshman PF Jordan Mickey (13.0 PPG, 7.2 RPG) has been surprisingly effective joining O'Bryant down low, averaging a huge 3.6 BPG in his first year. The team’s third and final double-digit scorer is 5-foot-10 G Andre Stringer (12.0 PPG, 3.1 APG), who scored 13 points on 5-for-7 FG (3-of-4 threes) in that meeting with Kentucky last season. He shares the ball-handling duties with G Anthony Hickey (8.5 PPG, 3.2 APG), who also stands shorter than 6-feet, creating an interesting matchup against the Harrison twins, who are lengthy guards at 6-foot-6. Hickey, who tallied 15 points (4-of-7 threes) and three steals in the loss at Lexington last season, has turned the ball over just 19 times in 509 minutes this season (1 TO per 26.8 MPG).