It’s gameday in the Bluegrass and the start of Southeastern Conference play for the Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball team.
Kentucky opens their SEC slate by hosting the Missouri Tigers this evening at Rupp Arena. The Wildcats (9-2) have won back to back games in blowout fashion and are considerable favorites over the Tigers (6-6). ESPN’s Basketball Power Index gives Kentucky a 97.1% chance of victory while OddsShark has the Wildcats favored by 19 points.
Though Tigers’ center Jordan Wilmore (7’3) towers over most of his opponents, no one else on Missouri’s roster stands above 6’9. While Mizzou may have the tallest player in the contest, forward Kobe Brown will be much higher on the scouting report for the Wildcats. Brown leads the team in scoring (14.8) and rebounding (8.9), entitling him to be the primary focus of Kentucky star Oscar Tshiebwe.
Whether it’s Brown or Wilmore that the Tigers send to the backboard, there’s doubt that it will make much of a difference. Tshiebwe’s 28 rebounds over 7’5 Jamarion Sharp in Kentucky’s blowout win over Western Kentucky last week were a true testament of what hustle and will look like. No one loves to battle inside as much as Tshiebwe and the Tigers will surely feel the bruises early on tonight.
After Brown, the team doesn’t do much well at all. Missouri shoots just under 25% from three and only 41% from the field. They also shoot just 71% from the free throw line and pull in only 37 rebounds per game. Expect Kentucky’s first test in the SEC to be another blowout, making it three victories (by wide margin) in a row for the Wildcats.
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