By RICHARD CHEEKS, Contributing Writer
On Tuesday night, the Cats level of play returned to the impressive levels of performance they had demonstrated in late December when the Cats beat a strong UNC team, and left the YUM center with an impressive win over Louisville. Any SEC road win by 20 points is noteworthy. However, to be fair, this Georgia group is one of the weaker teams in the SEC this season. On Saturday, the Cats venture to Auburn, Alabama to face the #10 Auburn Tigers.
Before getting into today’s matchup, let’s put the Georgia win into some context. The 20 points is the largest road margin of the year, and the 4th largest game margin of the year. The 20 point margin is the largest game margin since the Cats beat Utah by 27 at Rupp on December 15, a month ago. The game ANE was an impressive 0.465 points per possession, the second highest single game ANE of the season, second only to the 0.567 ppp posted at the YUM Center against the Cards.
The Cats will need another effort on par with their Louisville and Georgia road wins on Saturday when Coach Calipari leads his Cats into Auburn to face his old nemesis Bruce Pearl and the Auburn Tigers.
Auburn enters this game with a 13-3 (12-3 against D-1 opponents) record. Auburn opened their season like gang busters, rolling out to a 5-1 record against D-1 opponents and an average ANE after six games of an impressive 0.369 ppp. Auburn’s only loss in this opening sequence of games was a 6-point loss to #1 Duke on a neutral court. However, their last 9 games have been much less impressive, with a record of 7-2 and an average ANE over these 9 games of only 0.185 ppp.
The losses during the most recent nine games have been by 7 points at #21 NC State, and by 15 points at #36 Mississippi. The Tigers are undefeated in nine home games this season. Auburn’s most impressive wins thus far this season have been over #44 Arizona by 16 points on a neutral court. The Tigers’ schedule has a SOS value of 0.0538 (#32). The Tigers’ ANE for the season stands at 0.258 ppp and their ANE over the last 5 games is 0.240 ppp.
The Cats’ schedule has a SOS value of 0.0216 ppp (#96). The Cats’ ANE for the season stands at 0.211 ppp and their ANE over the last 5 games is 0.296 ppp.
The ANE (Last 5 game basis) analysis indicates an Auburn margin of 1 point, 72-71, in a game played at a pace of 71 possessions. As a matter of record, the traditional ANE analysis indicates a 9-point Auburn advantage (76-67). Pomeroy has this game as 4 points in Auburn’s favor, 74-70, at a pace of 68 possessions.
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