The Tennessee Volunteers (12-4, 5-4 SEC) are ranked No. 11 in the latest AP poll, but they head to face the Kentucky Wildcats (5-11, 4-5) on Saturday having lost three of their last four SEC contests. The Wildcats have their own issues with three straight losses, and John Calipari’s team appears headed to its first sub-.500 season since 1988-89.
Tipoff on ESPN is scheduled for 8 pm ET on Saturday at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky.
The teams split two conference games last year, with the road team winning each contest. The Volunteers are 6-4 in their last 10 games against the Wildcats, including a 3-2 mark at Rupp. Overall, the Wildcats lead the series 156-74, with the teams scheduled to play each other next in Knoxville on Feb. 20.
Tennessee at Kentucky Betting Analysis
Vols Need to Rediscover Their Mojo
In their last four conference games, the Vols have scored 50, 56, 64 and 49 points, going 1-3 in those contests. They did mix in an 80-61 home win over Kansas last weekend but then made college basketball news when they scored just 50 points in a loss at Ole Miss on Tuesday.
The road has really given the Vols problems lately with the two-point loss at Ole Miss and a 75-49 loss at Florida on Jan. 19.
Tennessee is 9-7 ATS, and the under is 10-6 in its games. The team’s defense has been stellar, as the Volunteers rank sixth in the nation in points allowed (58.9 ppg) and 21st in field-goal percentage (.393). They are plus-four in rebounding on the season (32.9-28.8) and allow just 30.2% shooting from behind the arc.
Forward John Fulkerson leads the Vols with 11.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per game, while guard Victor Bailey Jr. has scored 10.4 points per game. Guards Jaden Springer (9.6 points), Yves Pons (9.4 points) and Keon Johnson (9.0 points) are all averaging at least nine points per game, while two others are scoring more than 7.5 points per game.
In Tuesday’s loss at Ole Miss, the Vols shot just 35.6% from the field, and they had a 12-minute scoring drought. Pons led the way with 13 points while Johnson had 11, but the other three starters combined for just 13 points on 5-for-17 shooting.
Pons had 17 points and Springer had 13 in the 19-point win over Kansas last weekend as the Vols shot 53% from the field.
Wildcats Searching for Offense
Calipari’s Kentucky teams are usually reliable on offense and filled with perimeter stars, but that’s not the case in 2020-21. The Wildcats rank 270th in the nation in scoring (67.6 points per game), 273rd in field-goal percentage (.418) and 297th in 3-point field-goal percentage (.302).
They are 5-10-1 ATS, and the under is 11-5 in the Wildcats’ 16 games.
The defense has been good, ranking 50th in field-goal percentage (.403) and 85th in 3-point field-goal percentage (.310). But the Wildcats have been outscored on the season by over one point per game, and they have allowed at least 70 points in five of the last eight games.
Kentucky is led in scoring by guard Brandon Boston Jr., who is averaging 12.0 points per game. Guard Davion Mintz (10.3 points), forward Olivier Sarr (10.3 points) and forward Keion Brooks Jr. (10.1 points) are also averaging in double figures, while forward Isaiah Jackson leads the team in rebounding (7.1 rebounds per game).
In Wednesday’s 75-70 loss at Missouri, Mintz led the Wildcats with 18 points while both Boston and Brooks Jr. scored 10. Kentucky held the Tigers to 39.3% shooting but committed 17 turnovers and 24 fouls in the loss, as the Wildcats took another step towards missing NCAA March Madness.
Tennessee at Kentucky Betting Pick
The under is something to think about in this game as it has hit 21 times between these teams. Kentucky is 0-4 against ranked teams with losses by three, 12, 11 and five points, and they lost to Alabama by 20 the week before the Crimson Tide entered the rankings.
Tennessee will look to set the pace through Pons, who has shot 46.7% from distance over the last four games, as Kentucky’s defense will be tested to slow him down.
When doing your college basketball betting, give the 3.5 points as the Volunteers should romp on the road.