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Game Glances: Kentucky looks to get right vs. Ole Miss and Auburn

Ole Miss and Auburn are sure to present tough challenges for a struggling defensive team.

Reed Sheppard Dylan Ballard - A Sea Of Blue

On Saturday, the Kentucky Wildcats squandered another opportunity for a quality win by falling on their home court to Gonzaga, 89-85.

The loss was UK’s third in a row at home, the first time that’s happened since 1966. So it goes without saying that this is a big week for Kentucky Basketball.

Are the wheels off or does John Calipari just need his team to get healthy enough in time for a tweak?

With two tough SEC opponents coming up, I believe we’ll learn a lot about exactly what is going on with the Cats.

First up will be a matchup with Chris Beard and the 18-5 Ole Miss Rebels who have proven to be impressive all season long.

Kentucky and Ole Miss will tip off on ESPN Tuesday night in the 9 PM slot.

Matthew Murrell is their catalyst on offense and can really score the basketball. The senior is currently averaging 16.8 points per game and consistently produces on both ends of the floor.

Murrell shot 3/5 from deep and scored 17 points in the Rebels’ narrow three point loss to USC over the weekend.

Ole Miss has now dropped two straight because prior to losing to South Carolina they fell on their home floor to Auburn.

ESPN’s matchup predictor likes Kentucky to deliver yet another L. They have the Cats at an 83.3% chance at victory. I like the sound of that.

Game: Kentucky Wildcats vs. Ole Miss Rebels

Time: 9:00 PM EST

Location: Lexington, Kentucky — Rupp Arena

TV Channel: ESPN

Online Stream: WatchESPN and the ESPN app.

Radio: Tom Leach and Jack Givens on the UK Sports Radio Network.

Replay: WatchESPN and the SEC Network (check local listings).

Odds: ESPN’s matchup predictor gives the Cats an 83.3% chance of victory, while KenPom has it at 74%, and EvanMiya is at 72.5%.

Early Predictions: KenPom has the Cats winning 86-79, while EvanMiya is going with am 85-78 victory for the home team.

On Saturday, Kentucky will play one of the best teams in the conference as they travel to No. 12 Auburn for a 6:00 PM tip-off, also on ESPN.

The 19-5 Tigers always present a tough challenge for Kentucky, especially on the road.

Bruce Pearl’s squad is led by Morehead State transfer Johni Broome who’s averaging 16 points and 8 rebounds per game. The senior also gets 2.4 blocks per game and is the straw that stirs the drink for Auburn.

Auburn is facing a big week of its own with home games vs. South Carolina on Wednesday and Kentucky on Saturday for this week’s College GameDay venue. The Tigers need a sweep this week to keep pace in the SEC race, as South Carolina and Alabama are currently tied for the league lead and one game ahead of the Tigers.

The Tigers are also coming off a blowout loss at Florida, so they’ll be looking to get that bad taste out of their mouth this week against the Gamecocks and Wildcats.

It’s unclear when Tre Mitchell will be back in uniform, but his absence was felt in a major way during the Gonzaga game, where the UK was punished in the paint. Saying this, it can’t all be on Mitchell to save Kentucky in the painted area. Someone else has to step up and provide consistency on the defensive end and on the boards, though none of Aaron Bradshaw, Ugonna Onyenso, or Zvonimir Ivisic have yet to do so.

Containing Johni Broome will be priority number one for John Calipari’s struggling defensive team.

Most people still believe Kentucky has all the pieces to make a deep March run, but lately, their performance isn’t matching that potential. If this keeps up, Kentucky is going to find itself closer to the bubble than a good seed.

As mentioned before, this is a huge week for UK Basketball. Stay tuned in with A Sea of Blue for all of your coverage and updates.

Game: Kentucky Wildcats at Auburn Tigers

Time: 6:00 PM EST

Location: Auburn, Alabama — Neville Arena

TV Channel: ESPN

Online Stream: WatchESPN and the ESPN app.

Radio: Tom Leach and Jack Givens on the UK Sports Radio Network.

Replay: WatchESPN and the SEC Network (check local listings).

Odds: ESPN’s matchup predictor gives the Tigers an 82.8% chance of victory, while KenPom has it at 80% in favor of the home team. EvanMiya is at 84.4%.

Early Predictions: KenPom has Auburn winning 87-78, while EvanMiya is at 87-77 for the Tigers.

How do you see this week playing out for the Cats? Safe to say anything less than a 1-1 showing will be a disaster that puts Kentucky firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble.

Sound off in the comments section!