Missouri looks to get its first SEC win of the season on the road at the Kentucky Wildcats. What are the chances of an upset?
TV Schedule: Tuesday, January 9, 7:00 PM ET (ESPN)
Location: Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky
For the seventh time in the past ten seasons, Missouri (8-6) dropped to 0-1 in SEC play. The Georgia Bulldogs left Mizzou Arena with the 75-68 win on Saturday. Four Tigers scored in double digits in the loss. Sean East II led Mizzou with 18 points, six rebounds, and eight assists. Tamar Bates chipped in 15 points, and Noah Carter added 13. But the biggest surprise was Aidan Shaw with 14 points and six rebounds. Shaw made a huge impact in his return to the starting five.
After taking the early lead Missouri found themselves down 17, due to an almost six-minute scoring drought. The Tigers rallied before the half, going on a 17-2 run to close out the first 20 minutes. The struggles on the defensive end continued as Georgia drained eight first-half threes. The second half was back and forth as Georgia cooled off from three, but Missouri wasn't able to pull away once they regained the lead and went ice cold from the field over the final minutes.
Missouri will have another chance to pick up a conference win on Tuesday. The Tigers will hit the road to take on No. 6 Kentucky (11-2). The Wildcats are currently on a six-game win streak after snagging a win on the road at Florida, winning the game 87-85 after overcoming an eight-point deficit at the half. Five Kentucky players hit double digits in the win, led by 19 points from Antonio Reeves.
Kentucky has been one of the best offensive teams in the country this season. The Wildcats are top five in scoring at just over 90 points per game. They are making nearly 50 percent from the floor and are currently the fifth-best team in the country in three-point percentage, making 40.6 percent from deep. Antonio Reeves leads this high-powered Kentucky offense with 19 points per game. Four other Wildcats are averaging over ten points.
This will be an incredibly tough matchup for Missouri. The Tigers will need a complete game on offense to keep up with Kentucky. This means no multi-minute scoreless streaks that have become commonplace this season. Mizzou has the offensive power to hang with Kentucky for a while, especially with how Sean East II and Tamar Bates have been playing as of late. Over the past four games, East is averaging 17 points, right at his season average. And Bates is averaging 18 points over that stretch, nearly double his season average.
I don’t know if Missouri has the defensive chops to shut down this high-powered Kentucky offense. The Wildcats have multiple players capable of scoring from anywhere on the court and do so consistently. The Tigers average six blocks per game and nearly nine steals and will need every single one of them in this matchup.
There is a small chance that Missouri can walk into Rupp Arena and come out with a victory. UNC Wilmington proved it can be done. But Kentucky hasn’t dropped a game since that loss. I have a hard time imagining how the Tigers can stop all the Wildcats' offensive threats.
In what should be a high-scoring game, Kentucky should be able to pick up the win on their home court. I’ve been wrong about this Missouri team multiple times this season, maybe they will prove me wrong again against Kentucky.