Head coach John Calipari and his Kentucky Wildcats are looking to rebound following a weekend blowout to Tennessee in Knoxville. However, they’ll have to do so on the road as Kentucky takes a trip to visit Ole Miss on Tuesday night.
Saturday wasn’t a “good day” for any player wearing a blue jersey. In fact, the Wildcats’ most productive player was sophomore center Nick Richards.
To put that into perspective, Richards has been the team’s most inconsistent player for most of the season. His fellow classmate, PJ Washington, was limited with early foul trouble. Freshman talents Ashton Hagans, Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro all folded to the road atmosphere.
This Tuesday, Kentucky will face another hostile environment in Oxford, MS. The Ole Miss Rebels sit at 19-9 on the season and are considered as the top dark horse in next week’s SEC Tournament. If Kentucky wishes to close out their season with momentum, first up on their list will be to take care of the Rebels.
Doing so may be easier said than done, though, as Kentucky has played inconsistently throughout the course of their 2018-2019 campaign. Once the Wildcats appear to be one of the leading contenders for a national title, they spring back down to Earth and face the challenge of working their way back to the top.
With the postseason around the corner, Calipari knows this will call for his finest hour. The 10-year Kentucky coach will need to rally his troops and continue to execute his most prolific coaching job to date in order for the Wildcats to have any hope of playing into the month of April.
On Tuesday, look for Washington to lead a Reid Travis-less squad into Oxford and reclaim their place amongst the top of the SEC ranks.
In terms of the advanced stats, the Wildcats dropped down to No. 8 overall in KenPom efficiency thanks to their poor performances last week, especially on offense. Kentucky now ranks No. 15 in offensive efficiency after climbing into the top 10 following the win over Auburn.
The good news is the Cats still rank No. 8 in defensive efficiency. In most years, teams that have made the Final Four had a top-10 KenPom offense and/or defense.
As for the Rebels, they rank surprisingly low for a team that has as many quality wins as they have. KenPom ranks them No. 44 overall, 36 in offensive efficiency and 61 in defensive efficiency.
This, despite having wins over No. 33 Baylor, No. 21 Mississippi State and two wins over No. 16 Auburn.
ESPN’s Basketball Power Index is predicting Kentucky has a 73.7% chance of victory. KenPom gives the Cats a 66% chance of winning and projects a final score of 72-68.
Kentucky opened as a 5.5-point favorite, despite failing to cover in three of their last four games. The Cats have also failed to cover in three-straight road games.
- 16-13 vs. the spread this season
- 14-12 vs. the spread as favorite
- 2-2 vs. the spread following a loss
- 11-9 vs. the spread with 2-3 days off
- 6-3 vs. the spread as road team
- 5-2 vs. the spread as road favorite
- 9-7 vs. the spread against SEC teams
- 21-8 vs. the spread this season
- 9-3 vs. the spread as underdog
- 5-4 vs. the spread following a loss
- 15-7 vs. the spread with 2-3 days off
- 10-5 vs. the spread as home team
- 2-1 vs. the spread as home underdog
- 10-6 vs. the spread against SEC teams
Kentucky continues to miss Travis inside but his absence has sparked flashes of both EJ Montgomery and Richards. However, while the two replacements have been productive, it’s essential that both Herro and Johnson play much, much better.
Kentucky’s offense should follow their lead back to a proficient level, though Kentucky’s defense could once again suffer on the road. This game could very well go down to the wire, but Kentucky wants the decision more right now.
Final Score: Kentucky 73, Ole Miss 67