Tuesday night is ripe for a huge SEC battle in Knoxville where the SEC is still easily within reach for tonight’s combatants. #4 Kentucky is back on the road against hated rival #16 Tennessee. As we type words, the Vols are a 1.5-point favorite and the total stands at 140.
Kentucky is undoubtedly been white hot since losing to Auburn seven games ago. They’ve crushed Kansas, suffocated Alabama and toyed with Florida during their six-game winning streak (the first two on the road). The Wildcats have figured themselves out again but tonight they will likely be without TyTy Washington, a critical piece of this Big Blue offense.
It figures in why the Vols are a small home favorite but if you dig into TyTy’s numbers, he’s almost literally half as productive on the road than at home (8.7ppg vs. 15.8ppg) anyway. He’s only scored double-digits in three of the Wildcats eight road games. All of his production numbers are not just down, but WAY down when traveling. There’s no need to even pretend to play him tonight with knowledge of the potential of this team.
We also have to figure that Kentucky will not shoot 68% from the field again (like their last matchup) and likely not shoot 78.6% (!!!!!) in the first half against on the nation’s best defenses. Tennessee allows just 63.1 points per game (2nd in the SEC). The Vols are on a four-game heater as well and has used that hard-nosed defense to get within two games of the top spot in the SEC. The Volunteers are also 13-0 at home, the closest result being a 4-point win over Arizona. Yes, that Arizona.
Thompson-Boling Arena is going to be a madhouse tonight. Revenge will be on the mind for the Vols who lost their previous meeting despite shooting 53% from the field on their own and 48% from beyond the arc and with eleven made three-pointers. That kind of loss is just a historically ridiculous outlier and the tape deserves to be trash-canned and set on fire and if they don’t have tape, wipe the damn hard-drive. This game is perfectly set up for a Tennessee win. It’s a home game: check. Kentucky will be without a big piece of their team: check. Kentucky averages 13 points fewer on the road than at home (73.6 vs. 86.4): check. The better defense is in orange: check. Even the favorite for the Wooden, Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe (+110), was held to just nine points and twelve rebounds in their previous game: check. Tonight, give me the Vols -1.5.