Kentucky is a stellar 16-1 on the season, and the team recently won its second SEC clash in as many opportunities by taking care of Auburn on the road, 68-53. It was the eighth straight win for coach John Calipari's club since suffering its lone defeat at Indiana back on December 10. It was also UK's 13th consecutive victory over Auburn, and a win today will move the team to 2-1 in true road games and 6-1 outside of Lexington this season.
Tennessee is an even 8-8 on the year, and that level of mediocrity has permeated its league ledger as well (1-1). The Vols suffered their first conference loss on Thursday night at No. 20 Mississippi State in a 62-58 final, and they have now lost two of their last three after claiming victory in their previous four outings. That winning streak came on the heels of a four-game slide so to say the team is streaky would certainly be accurate. UT, which is 7-2 at home this season, took out Florida in its SEC opener last Saturday, giving the team some extra confidence as it faces the monumental task of upsetting the No. 2 team in the land.
Kentucky owns a commanding 146-66 lead in the all-time series with Tennessee, and the Wildcats have won the last three meetings, six of the last seven and going back even further, 17 of the last 21.
Kentucky is arguably the best team in the country, a fact hammered home all that much more when you consider it owns significant margins in scoring (+21.4) and rebounding (+7.9), while shooting 48.6 percent from the field and holding opponents to just 35.3 percent. While it's true they are a young team, there is no denying the talent Calipari continues to assemble year after year. The only team in the nation to feature six double-digit scorers, the Wildcats have so many weapons that it's difficult for foes to concentrate their efforts on just one or two guys. Doron Lamb (14.6 ppg) currently sits atop UK's scoring chart, and Anthony Davis (12.8 ppg, 10.3 rpg) continues to make his case for SEC Player of the Year. Lamb and Davis were at it again in the recent win over Auburn, scoring 14 points apiece, while Terrence Jones and Marquis Teague chipped in with a dozen points each. The Wildcats had an off night in terms of shooting (.404), but they allowed the Tigers to hit just one of their 12 three-point attempts, and they scored 24 points off 15 AU turnovers.
Tennessee has done a decent job at the offensive end of the court this season, averaging 73.4 ppg in dropping 46.2 percent of its total shots and 38.0 percent of its long-range bombs. But defensively, the team yields 68.2 ppg as foes are converting 36.3 percent of their three-point attempts. The Vols have three double-digit scorers in the form of Trae Golden (14.9 ppg, 5.3 apg), Jeronne Maymon (11.3 ppg, 7.6 rpg) and Jordan McRae (10.4 ppg, 14 blocks), but UT lacks that one guy who is capable of taking over a game at any given moment. Golden, who has shot 60 percent from the field over the last four games, tallied 20 points in the recent loss at Mississippi State, hitting four three-pointers along the way, the team going 7-of-14 from beyond the arc on the night. Maymon added 13 points, and Kenny Hall came off the bench to net a dozen, but a 13-5 deficit in points from the foul line proved too much to overcome.