Kentucky will face off against Auburn Saturday afternoon at Rupp Arena with tipoff set for 4 p.m. ET.
The last meeting between the two teams resulted in an Auburn victory last year on January 16 by a score of 75-70. John Calipari’s Wildcats will surely look to avenge that loss against Bruce Pearl’s Tigers squad.
Gone from the Tigers are Kareem Canty and Tyler Harris, who combined for 47 of Auburn’s 75 points last season.
This year’s version of the Tigers rely on a trio of freshmen in Mustapha Heron, Danjel Purifoy, and Jared Harper. The 6’5 Heron is the Tigers’ leading scorer and rebounder with 16.2 points per game and 6.4 rebounds per game, while shooting 41.4 percent from three.
Purifoy is averaging 13.7 ppg, while pulling down 5.8 rebounds per game. Harper, a 5’10 guard, is averaging 13.5 ppg but is closer to 16 ppg in conference play, while leading the Tigers in assists with 3.1 per game.
Freshman Austin Wiley, who only has seven games under his belt at Auburn, could also be a factor. Wiley, who stands at 6’11, was originally a 5-star recruit in the 2017 class but was able to enroll early and has been a nice boost to the Tigers squad.
This game will likely be up-and-down the floor, as Auburn has been a team that likes to play fast. Both Kentucky and Auburn rank in the top 15 in the KenPom Adjusted Tempo rating for Possessions per 40 minutes.
These type of games have typically favored Kentucky, but if the Tigers are making shots, it could be a close game. If Kentucky can defend on the perimeter against Heron, Purifoy, and Harper, I think Kentucky can win big. If they’re making shots, the Wildcats may be in trouble.
Here is everything you’ll need to watch and follow this matchup:
Game Time: 4 p.m. EST on Jan. 14
Location: Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky.
Live Online Stream: Watch ESPN
Radio: UK Radio Network with Tom Leach and Mike Pratt
Odds: Kentucky opened as a 22.5-point favorite. KenPom projects UK to be a 24.5-point favorite.
Score Prediction: KenPom projects a 99-74 win by Kentucky and gives the Cats a 99-percent chance of winning