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Kentucky Wildcats at Missouri Tigers Game Preview

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Kentucky and Missouri play their last regular-season game tonight in Columbia.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight, the Kentucky Wildcats will hit the road to Columbia, MO to face the Missouri Tigers for the second time this season. We won’t be doing a full game preview since most of the information from the preview 11 days ago is still the same, but we will be highlighting a couple of changes that might have significance for this contest.

Game particulars

Date: Thursday, Jan 29th
Time: 9:00 PM
Location: Mizzou Arena, Columbia, MO
TV: ESPN
Internet: Watch ESPN
Radio: UK Sports Network

Updated Four Factors

Offensive

uk at mizzou off ff

Defensive

uk at mizzou def ff

Team Comparison

Rank and records UK Mizzou
RPI #2 #157
Strength of Schedule #6 #5
Overall 19-0 7-12
Conference 6-0 1-5
Home 13-0 6-4
Away 4-0 1-4
Top 25 4-0 0-3
RPI top 50 6-0 1-8
KenPom Rank #1 #159
Money line -18.0 +18.0

Courtesy of Statsheet.com

What’s Different

Missouri is on a five-game losing streak. Their most recent game was a very narrow 61-60 defeat by Arkansas at home. The Tigers also played Tennessee fairly close at home since UK last played them, but the Tigers have been getting thrashed on the road, as young teams will.

Last time Kentucky and Missouri played, Montaque (Teki) Gill-Caesar was out with a strained back. He is now back and Missouri has no known injuries. Neither does Kentucky except for Alex Poythress, who is out for the season with an ACL.

Analysis

Road games in the SEC are always difficult, and this one will be no exception despite the fact that Missouri just isn’t very good this year. With the addition of Gill-Caesar to the lineup, the Tigers will have better size in the backcourt and more outside shooting. in fact, one of the few things Missouri has done pretty well this season is shoot the three, and they make almost 35% of them.

Gill-Caesar will require the Wildcats back court to play solid fundamental defense and force him to put the ball on the floor. He’s not a the best shooter they have, but he’s one of them, and at 6‘6" adds the kind of size that Keith Shamburger and Wes Clark lack.

This game figures to be similar to the first, with a lot of pounding the ball inside by Kentucky and a lot of three-point shots by Missouri. If Kentucky can rebound at the rate they did in the first game, we could have a similarly lopsided result, and I know rebounding has been much on the mind of John Calipari after the Wildcats last performance in Columbia East against the South Carolina Gamecocks.

I don’t expect the score to be as lopsided, though, for three reasons — better overall shooting with Gill-Caesar available, the home crowd, sure to be a sellout, and the fact that home teams generally get a slightly favorable whistle. Kentucky may use a lot of fouls in this one, particularly if Mizzou coach Kim Anderson asks his team to try to rough Kentucky up. It worked pretty well for South Carolina, and SEC coaches are known for favoring that tactic at home — mainly because it’s had a tendency to work.

I am never sanguine about road games. Missouri has played well enough in Columbia to give the Wildcats some trouble, and they are overdue for a good game. I especially hate facing teams on a long losing streak in their home arenas, because they often play as if they have nothing to lose, which is almost always beneficial. Don’t be surprised if this one isn’t quite a bit tougher than it looks.