(1) Kentucky Wildcats (-11) at LSU Tigers
The Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge will host the best team in the nation tonight as the No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats (22-0, 10-0 SEC) visit the LSU Tigers (17-6, 6-4 SEC) at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
Over half way through its conference schedule, Kentucky remains unbeaten in SEC play (and overall), downing Georgia and Florida in their last two outings.
The Florida game (68-61) was closer than expected, though, with the Gators taking a two-point lead into the half.
Wildcats coach John Calipari noted that his team’s stamina (or lack thereof) is “typical this time of year,” adding, “[o]ur season was stretched out a little bit. [It] started down in the Bahamas, and so it’s a long year. [And] we’re trying to do this without Trey [Lyles, sidelined by illness]. We’re basically holding down the fort without Trey.”
LSU is unranked despite their respectable 17-6 record. Four of Tigers’ six losses have been inside the SEC, including home losses to Texas A&M and Auburn. After dropping two straight (Auburn and Mississippi State), LSU beat Alabama (71-60) in its last outing to get back in the win column.
The Tigers have played just one game against a ranked team this year, picking up their best win of the season at then-No. 16 West Virginia, 74-73. The Wildcats know that, as with every team they play, LSU will look at tonight’s game as a way to bolster their tourney resume.
“I think every team really wants to beat us just because we have the No. 1 ranking at the moment and just that bulls-eye on our backs,” said Kentucky guard Andrew Harrison. “I’ve been trying to tell the team, just take it personal. They’re trying to rush the floor on us and everything. Don’t let them do that.”
Kentucky is an 11-point favorite in the odds. LSU is 1-7 SU in its last eight games against the Wildcats.
(Photo credit: J R (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)