Kentucky Wildcats (13-3) vs Auburn Tigers (13-3)
NCAA Basketball: Saturday, January 19, 2019, at 4:00 pm, Auburn Arena
Spread: Auburn -4.5
FREE ESPN NCAA Basketball Picks Kentucky Wildcats vs Auburn Tigers
The first big-time game in the SEC this season takes place Saturday, January 19th. The Kentucky Wildcats and Auburn Tigers are both top-15 teams that plan on making a run at the SEC championship and a high tournament seed. A win for either team is going to do a lot to boost their resume.
In their last game against the Georgia Bulldogs, the Wildcats had ZERO points from their leading scorer, Keldon Johnson. Normally the Cats can expect 14.6PPG from their freshman wing, and without any points from Johnson, they still won by 20 points! The main reason is the amazing game by point-guard Ashton Hagans. Hagans put up a career-high 23 points in his homecoming game and swiped three steals for the sixth straight game. Hagans is the first UK player to have three steals in six straight games in the history of the program. Through the first ten games, Hagans was averaging just 3.5 points and only 1 steal. In the last six games, Hagans is averaging 14.33 points and 4.33 steals. The guard is turning into a stud and is starting to turn heads at the next level.
The Cats are averaging 80PPG while shooting 48.75% from the field, 34.66% from three, and 38.31RPG. These averages are good for 39th, 24th, 130th, and 59th in the country. They have stepped up their defense in the last two games and for the first time since 2015 have held two SEC teams under 50 points in back to back games. The KenPom ratings have Kentucky rated 13th overall with the 26th best offense and 17th best defense in the nation. The defensive performance has been spearheaded of course by Ashton Hagans who sets the tone from the point of attack.
The trio of Bryce Brown, Jared Harper, and Austin Wiley lead this Auburn team and even Anfernee McLemore has the talent to be a very significant contributor. Brown is the leading scorer with 16.2PPG and Jared Harper throws out 6.7APG, while Austin Wiley pulls in 6.1RPG. Harper and Wiley put up 15.1 and 10.8 PPG to go along with their other contributions. They are a formidable trio and if any team wants to take down Auburn you have to limit these three as much as possible. Since they each play different positions, two guards and a forward, it takes a team who has a complete roster to compete with the Tigers. As always, Bruce Pearl is going to have his team coached up and ready to go.
The Tigers average 84.5PPG, on 45.36% shooting from the field, 35.86 from the three, and 39.69RPG. Those averages are good enough for 16th, 121st, 87th, and 31st in the nation. Their KenPom ratings are consistent with these averages and they are ranked 11th overall with the 9th best offense and 35th best defense. Auburn is going to be looking to shoot the ball well from three and exploit that since it is Kentucky’s biggest weakness on that end of the floor. If the threes start to fall for Auburn and the Cats come out slow like their last three games, Auburn could run away with this one.
Cover the Spread 365 Betting Trends
ATS Last 10 (6-4)
Over/Under in Conference Play (2-2)
Home Games SU (9-0)
Over/Under in Conference Play (2-1)
ESPN SCORES NCAA Basketball Prediction Auburn Tigers vs Kentucky Wildcats
This is going to be a must-watch game for basketball fans. An inter-conference, top-15 contest is something you must see. There are a few things each team must do if they want to come out on top. For the Kentucky Wildcats, they need to have Ashton Hagans play like the superstar he has been the last six games, they need to have big games out of their frontcourt. It could be PJ Washington, Reid Travis, Nick Richards, or EJ Montgomery, either way, they need two of these guys to bring it. The last thing they need to do is limit Auburn from the three-point line, they have been burned this season before an may get burned again if they are not careful.
The Auburn Tigers need to shoot the ball well from outside the three-point line. They also need to use their long-lanky forwards to shut down Reid Travis and PJ Washington, who has had trouble against long and lanky big guys. Lastly, they have to limit turnovers, Ashton Hagans is getting to the ball and when your point-guard is too scared to even perform a dribble handoff, your offense gets harder to run. The Wildcats are on a heater right now and have a lot of momentum behind them. This game comes down to point-guard play and the Wildcats will have the best one on the court during this game.