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Kentucky vs Auburn: Game time, TV channel, live stream, odds, announcers & more

Everything you need for Round 2 of Kentucky Wildcats vs. Auburn Tigers.

Drew Brown - Sea of Blue

Auburn Tigers (18-8) at Kentucky Wildcats (22-4)

  • Game Time: 1:30 pm EST on February 23, 2019
  • Location: Rupp Arena Lexington, Kentucky
  • TV Channel: You can watch the game on CBS.
  • Announcers: Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel will call the action.
  • Live Online Stream: You can stream the game online at CBSSports.com or on a mobile device using the CBS Sports App.
  • Radio: Tom Leach and Mike Pratt will have the UK radio network call on 630 AM and 98.1 FM in Lexington or online at UKAthletics.com.
  • Replay: Check local listings on the SEC Network.
  • Rosters: UK | AU
  • Odds: Kentucky opened as a 7.5-point favorite. KenPom projected the Wildcats to be a 7.5-point favorite at home. Go here for more betting trends and expert picks.
  • Predictions: ESPN gives Kentucky a 74.4% chance of beating Auburn for the second time this season. KenPom gives the Cats a 73% chance of winning and projects a final score of 75-68. Go here for our staff predictions and thoughts on Reid Travis.
  • Live Stats
  • Digital Gameday Guide


Kentucky is back in the friendly confines of Rupp Arena for a Saturday afternoon matchup with Auburn.

This will be Kentucky’s first game of the season without all five starters able to play, as Reid Travis will sit out with a sprained right knee, which could sideline him until SEC Tournament play begins.

In the meantime, Kentucky will look to get more production from reserve bigs Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery. However, Auburn plays a lot of four-guard lineups, so Kentucky may end up playing Keldon Johnson at the 4 for much of this game anyhow.

This will mark the second meeting between these two teams, Kentucky narrowly squeaked out a 82-80 victory on January 19th back when Auburn was ranked 14th. Johnson actually had one of his best games of the season in that win, as he scored 20 points on 7/11 shooting.

The Tigers went on to lose their next two games and haven’t been back in the top 25 since, but a win Saturday would likely push them back into the polls.

In a year that was filled with promise, Bruce Pearl’s team is now just 7-6 in league play with an overall record of 18-8. This is a vast underachievement compared to the preseason expectations that were put in place for this team. It can be easy to forget that back in November, Auburn narrowly lost to Duke in the Maui Invitational.

All of that being said, it goes without question that Coach Pearl is going to have his team playing with a sense of desperation from here on out. Kentucky will need to feed off of the home crowd and put together a 40-minute performance.

With Tennessee playing LSU this weekend, it will allow the Cats to take another step towards closing the gap for the SEC regular season championship.

But beating the Auburn Tigers is priority #1.

4 keys to the game

Establish EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards

The obvious big news from an otherwise boring game was the injury that Reid Travis suffered down in Columbia. As soon as he went down and the replay was shown, it was one of those things when all you can do is hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

Nobody in the Big Blue Nation likes the idea of rounding the corner to March while missing the senior leadership that Travis brings to the table.

That being said, it is now time for the next man to step up, and fortunately for Kentucky, they have some solid depth in the frontcourt. Getting EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards more comfortable while playing extended minutes will have to be a priority if Reid Travis is to miss any significant amount of time with his knee injury.

Even if Travis was to come back sooner than later, it is still fair to say that the Cats will need contributions from both Richards and Montgomery if they are to have a chance at accomplishing the ultimate goal of winning a ninth national championship.

The frontcourt duo of Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery did not have the best outing in Kentucky’s last meeting with Auburn back on January 19th. The two combined for just one point, two rebounds, and five fouls in 20 total minutes. That was also with Auburn missing one of their best big men, Austin Wiley, who has since returned to the Tigers lineup.

EJ Montgomery has really taken steps over the last few weeks of cementing his role on this team. Over the last 4 games, he has averaged 13.5 minutes a game. This number will increase dramatically if Reid Travis is unavailable. Montgomery is oozing with potential and this could very well be his chance to show the college basketball world what he is capable of.

Nick Richards on the other hand has still shown little-to-no consistency from game to game. The fact of the matter is, you do not know which Nick Richards is checking into the game when he is called upon.

Will it be the Nick Richards who is running the floor and aggressively protecting the rim? Or the Nick Richards that is foul prone and costing his team points?

It is looking likely that he will have an opportunity to play through some mistakes and see if he can become a consistent contributor. The time is now for the sophomore center.

After Richards had an explosive game back in January on the road at Vanderbilt, where he scored 14 points on 4-5 shooting, it seemed that maybe he had turned a corner. But he only digressed in the five games after Vandy, playing more than 10 minutes just one time.

However, Richards did have one of his better games on Tuesday against Missouri, where he scored seven points and grabbed four rebounds in 13 minutes. Hopefully, that solid play will carry over against the Tigers on Saturday afternoon, because without Reid Travis, the Wildcats are going to desperately need Richards to play to his potential.

Limit the Tigers from three

The Tigers have now taken over 750 three-point shots this season. Yes, you read that correctly. For comparison, Kentucky has only taken a total of 449 shots from behind the arc. So it goes without saying that limiting Auburn’s looks from deep will be one of the biggest keys to victory on Saturday.

If the Cats can prevent Auburn from absolutely lighting it up from three, then they will put themselves in line for a victory. Not only does Auburn shoot a ton of long range shots, but they also make an impressive 37% of those attempts.

Leading the charge from long range is Bryce Brown, who is one of the best shooters in the SEC when ranked by volume and percentage. He makes over 40% from deep.

Kentucky fans should be familiar with Brown because he played one heck of a game on his floor against the Wildcats earlier this season. In the loss to UK, Brown scored 28 points while shooting 6-7 from three. He almost single-handily led his team to a victory that afternoon and you can anticipate more of the same effort this time around.

After the game against Kentucky, things have not been as easy for Brown as he has only surpassed the 20-point mark in one other game since. Hopefully, the bright lights of Rupp Arena don’t ignite any super powers like they sometimes do for opposing shooters.

Get Hagans going

The Cats are still on a complete tear over the last two months, winning 12 of their last 13 games. However, there have been a few areas of concern that seem to be lingering and causing some anxiety for followers of the program.

First off, the poor play from Ashton Hagans is becoming more of a trend than just a bad game or two. Over his last six games, Hagans is averaging 2.8 turnovers a game and has surprisingly only tallied a total of eight steals during those six games. Most fans had become accustomed to Hagans dominating his opponent from start to finish, but that dominance has wavered a bit as of late.

It was great to see Hagans make some big shots offensively at Missouri, including hitting two three pointers. It would be very impactful for Kentucky on Saturday, and moving forward, if Hagans can just settle down and migrate back to the player that he was a few weeks ago.

Leadership

There is the obvious storyline of Reid Travis being unavailable for this game and likely several more games. It is going to be crucial for other guys to step up and take on that leadership role.

The obvious person to step up and lead would be PJ Washington. Washington is doing all he possibly can from a statistical perspective, but adding that additional leadership support would go a long way when Travis isn’t in the middle over these next few weeks.

Hagans is the team’s point guard and was becoming a leader during his breakout in late December/early January, but his regression has made it harder for him to lead. He needs to be a more consistent player and leader for Kentucky going forward.

Players to watch:

Bryce Brown: 16 points and 40% on 3-pointers

This will be a good game for Ashton Hagans to get back on track against one of the best scorers in the SEC. Brown already dropped 28 on Kentucky earlier this year. He’s also hit eight of his last 14 threes coming into Rupp. It will likely take more than his 16 point-per-game average to upset the Cats at home.

Jared Harper: 15 points per game and 39.2% on 3-pointers

Harper scored 17 points on 5-13 shooting in the loss to Kentucky earlier this season. He is a consistent scoring option for the Tigers scoring double figures in 19 games this year. He’s not quite as consistent as his backcourt mate, but Harper does have eight games of 19+ points this season. He recently went for 25 on 7/11 shooting in a five-point loss at LSU.

Chuma Okeke: 11 points and 1.2 blocks per game

Okeke is the Tigers primary scoring option in the post. At nearly 50% from the field, he is a reliable scoring threat. Okeke scored 11 points in the first meeting with Kentucky. He’s also very dangerous from deep, as he’s hit 6/11 from deep over his last three games.

Austin Wiley: 8.7 points and 1.5 blocks per game

Wiley unexpectedly missed the first meeting with Kentucky but has since returned to the Tigers’ lineup. Although, he is only averaging about seven minutes per game over the last four games. Adding his size and rebounding ability to a team that hoists up as many threes as Auburn does, really makes them a different team. Keeping Wiley off the glass when he is on the court is a very important job for UK’s frontcourt, which is now more vulnerable with Travis out.