KENTUCKY WILDCATS (15-5)
at MISSOURI TIGERS (16-4)
Mizzou Arena - Columbia, MO
Tip-off: Saturday, 1:00 p.m. ET
Line: Kentucky -2
Coming off a loss to LSU, No. 11 Kentucky will face Missouri on Saturday looking to avoid a two-game losing skid and third SEC defeat.
The Wildcats have struggled mightily on the road this season, going 1-3 SU and 0-4 ATS. Both of their conference losses, to LSU and Arkansas, came on the road. They are 8-10 ATS overall and 3-4 ATS in the SEC. Missouri has won two in a row since falling at LSU, which was its third SEC defeat, also having lost to Georgia and Vanderbilt. Like Kentucky, the Tigers are 8-10 ATS overall and 3-4 ATS in the SEC. They have also struggled to cover at Mizzou Arena with a 3-6 ATS mark. These two teams met once last year in Lexington, where Kentucky won 90-83 in overtime as a 2.5-point favorite.
Which SEC club will pick up the crucial victory on Saturday? 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 (186-123-5) mark, including a stellar 64% ATS (154-88) record since Nov. 23. StatFox Brian is at 65% ATS (40-22-2) in Best Bets for the season and 69% ATS (33-15-1) since Nov. 26. StatFox Dave is 62% ATS (39-24-1) for the season and 71% ATS (22-9) since Dec. 18, while StatFox Scott is a hefty 60% ATS (38-25-1) for the season and 64% ATS (28-16-1) since Dec. 2. StatFox Zach is a strong 59% ATS (36-25-2) on Best Bets this season, including 63% ATS (30-18-1) since Nov. 22, while StatFox Gary is 55% ATS (33-27-2) for the season, and 60% ATS (27-18) since Nov. 29.
The Wildcats rank fourth in the nation with 42.4 RPG, outrebounding their opponents by a hefty 10.6 RPG. Theyíve even outrebounded their opponents in each of their past three losses. On the offensive end, the Wildcats average 79.8 PPG (28th in Div. I) on 47.1% shooting (52nd in nation) despite shooting a paltry 32.3% from three-point range. Freshman PF Julius Randle (16.1 PPG, 10.2 RPG) leads the Wildcats in points and rebounds, but he really struggled against LSU on Tuesday, going 3-for-11 from the field for six points and five rebounds. He also can be sloppy with the ball, turning it over 3.2 times per game this season. Randle has the benefit of playing down low with C Willie Cauley-Stein (7.8 PPG, 6.8 RPG), who is a defensive beast with 3.2 BPG. In addition to Randle, three fellow freshmen round out the double-digit scorers in guards James Young (14.7 PPG, 4.5 RPG), Aaron Harrison (13.8 PPG, 1.1 SPG) and Andrew Harrison (11.0 PPG, 3.5 APG). Young was the teamís bright spot against LSU with 23 points on 9-of-18 shooting while the Harrison twins went a combined 7-of-20 from the field with just two assists and five turnovers. Also watch out for SF Alex Poythress (6.9 PPG, 5.6 RPG), who has scored in double digits in three consecutive games and dropped 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting last season against the Tigers.
Missouri isnít too shabby on the boards either, pulling down 39.4 RPG (25th in Div. I) for a +7.3 RPG margin. The Tigers score 74.8 PPG (96th in Div. I) on 46.1% FG (89th in nation) with a mere 10.7 APG (316th in Div. I). SG Jabari Brown (19.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG) paces the Tigers offense, and heís been red-hot lately with five consecutive 20-point games, averaging 24.4 PPG in that span. In those games, he has hit 20-of-29 three-pointers (69%), putting him at 48% on the season. Heís joined by another dynamic scorer in the backcourt in SG Jordan Clarkson (18.5 PPG, 3.5 APG), who is a much less polished shooter making only 29.2% of his threes. SG Earnest Ross (14.5 PPG, 6.7 RPG) rounds out the double-digit scorers, while freshman PF Jonathan Williams III (6.8 PPG, 7.6 RPG) will also play a key role as the teamís top rebounder. Brown and Ross were the only Tigers to play significant minutes in last yearís contest against Kentucky and combined for a lackluster 13 points on 5-of-14 shooting.