Leap Day will bring a top-15 matchup to Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky when the #15 Auburn Tigers visit the #8 Kentucky Wildcats. Kentucky has a two-game lead on the Tigers and have not lost since February 1 when they fell 75-66 at Auburn.
A win by Kentucky would ensure the Wildcats of a 37th SEC regular season title.
Tigers Trying to Win SEC
The Auburn Tigers come into play with a record of 24-4 and 11-4 in the SEC. They must win Saturday to have a chance at the SEC crown. Since their victory over Kentucky, the Tigers have lost two games—at Missouri and at Georgia.
Both of those losses happened without the services of freshman Isaac Okoro, who had been out with a hamstring injury. Auburn has rebounded with wins over Tennessee and Ole Miss at home, while LSU lost to Florida, putting Auburn in sole possession of second place.
Okoro returned Wednesday to play 27 minutes and score 10 points in the victory over Ole Miss. Austin Wiley had 15 points and 11 rebounds in the win. The victory kept Auburn unbeaten at home this season.
Auburn shot 47.1% in the game, while holding the Rebels to just 34%. That was the difference as Auburn was able to turn away numerous Ole Miss rallies throughout the game.
Auburn averages 78.3 points per game, good for third in the SEC. They shoot 43.3% from the field, but just 30.1% from three-point range. The Tigers lead the conference in rebounding, averaging 41.2 boards per game. Offensively, the Tigers are led by guard Samir Doughty.
Doughty is averaging 16.1 points and four rebounds per game. Okoro is averaging 13 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.
Wildcats Look to Secure SEC Title
The Kentucky Wildcats come into play with a record of 23-5 and 13-2 in the SEC. They have a two-game lead over Auburn and a win Saturday would give the Wildcats their 37th regular season SEC championship.
Kentucky has won seven consecutive games since losing to Auburn on February 1. Tuesday’s 69-60 win over Texas A&M was the seventh straight win for the Wildcats.
Immanuel Quickley led Kentucky with a career-high 30 points. He has scored 77 points in his last three games. Quickley also set a career high with eight 3-pointers against the Aggies.
The result of Quickley’s efforts was the first time a Kentucky player had scored at least 25 points in consecutive games since Malik Monk did it in 2017. The Wildcats were able to hold back Texas A&M after several rallies in the second half.
Kentucky is fifth in the SEC, averaging 74.6 points per game. They shoot 46.3% from the field and are fourth in 3-point percentage, shooting 33.7%. Kentucky averages 37.2 rebounds per contest, which is good for 6th in the conference.
Offensively for the Wildcats, Quickley has been the main man, averaging 16.2 points and four rebounds per game. Nick Richards is averaging 13.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Ashton Hagans is averaging 11.8 points and leads the team with 6.5 assists per game.
Betting Lines and Predictions
BetOnline has a moneyline on this game of Kentucky -290. The Wildcats are favored by 6.5 points and the over/under is 140.5. This game will be one of the marquee matchups Saturday as two top-15 teams will do battle.
Kentucky is red-hot, winning seven in a row and having the luxury of playing this game at home. Auburn has bounced back with two wins after two bad losses earlier this month.
The key to this game will be whether Auburn can establish an inside presence or whether Kentucky will force them to beat them outside. The Wildcats are the safe bet here at Rupp Arena. Take them and the over.