There are few things in life that are guaranteed: mainly death and taxes.
We’ve seen this script before, even as recently as last season. Tennessee boats a 3-2 record over the last five meetings, but have yet to beat the Cats in the SEC Tournament.
This will obviously be Tennessee’ stiffest challenge in the tournament. Kentucky drilled the Vols to the tune of a 86-69 win in Lexington, but Tennessee responded with an even bigger win in Thompson-Boling Arena.
So, this game is pretty much a toss-up and even Vegas thinks so. They’ve placed the Cats as a (+1) favorite.
Nothing is guaranteed in this one. Get ready for an absolute battle in Nashville.
Kentucky Final Record and Standings
- 27-5 (15-3)
- 3rd SEC
- Won last game
- F P.J. Washington: 10.0 PPG, 33.3 FG%, 33.3 FT%, 33.3 3PT%, 12.0 REB, 4.0 BLK, 2.0 TO, 4.0 AST, 35.0 MIN
- F Reid Travis: 8.0 PPG, 66.7 FG%, N/A FT%, N/A 3PT%, 7.0 REB, 3.0 BLK, 1.0 TO, N/A AST, 23.0 MIN
- G Tyler Herro: 20.0 PPG, 57.1 FG%, 100.0 FT%, 50.0 3PT%, 6.0 REB, 1.0 BLK, 2.0 AST, 3.0 TO, 2.0 STL, 36.0 MIN
The Wildcats made the Alabama Crimson Tide look like a JV team in a 73-55 romp on Friday night.
Kentucky’s insanely stout interior defense limited Alabama to an 11 of 38 performance from inside the arc. The Tide went 17 of 56 overall from the floor, good for a 30.4 shooting percentage on the night.
The Cats led 39-29 at halftime, but easily took control in the second half, limiting the Tide to just 26 second half points.
Tyler Herro led the team with 20 points on 8 of 14 shooting and P.J. Washington finished with a double-double that also included four blocks and four steals.
Kentucky’s defense was really what kept the Tide at bay for most of the game. The Cats allowed almost no inside penetration and completely overwhelmed Alabama when they actually tried to drive and penetrate.
Kentucky also scored 19 points off of 11 forced turnovers. It seems pretty safe to say that Big Blue avenged the loss to Alabama earlier in the year.
Yea. Sooooo. Hmmm.
This is one is going to be an all-out war. I’m talking Battle of the Bastards in Game of Thrones type war. Grant Williams will be Jon Snow as he faces down a hoard of calvary men racing toward him and the rest of the team will be the infantry colliding in a heap of absolute violence and fury.
Travis’ return to the lineup changes the game. His physicality gave the Vols all sorts of trouble and allowed players such as Tyler Herro to come through and make plays. If Tennessee can’t find a way to work around Travis, then it could be another long day.
On the other hand, if Tennessee can get the same type of play from Jordan Bone, then that will give Kentucky fits. I’m not saying he needs to score 27 points and go perfect from outside again, but the Vols will definitely need him to make the right pass as well as provide an offensive presence.
Kyle Alexander will be a major factor in this game regardless of his play. If he plays poorly, then the Vols almost have no chance of winning, but if he plays like he did against Mississippi State, then the Vols will have a legitimate inside presence to help offset Travis and Washington.
There was too much disparity between the first two games in terms of each team’s performance. I really feel like Travis’ absence affected Kentucky more than originally thought in the second matchup.
This will obviously not be an easy one for either team. Unfortunately, it feels like Kentucky will prevail in this one. But that doesn’t mean you completely count the Vols out.