By RICHARD CHEEKS, Contributing Writer
Kentucky completed a successful road swing through Athens, Georgia and Auburn, Alabama with two impressive wins. After taking the DAWGS apart by 20, the Cats took down #10 Auburn by 2, handing Auburn their first home loss in quite some time.
These two games, however, are becoming the rule for this team rather than the rare exception. After the Seton Hall loss, the team had an ANE of 0.155 ppp, but in the since that 2 point loss to Seton Hall in overtime, this team has played 8 games with an average ANE of 0.336 ppp, and the quality of play over the last week has been above 0.41ppp for both games. This level of efficiency is sufficient to place this team in the hunt, come March.
Auburn, currently #9 (ANE) is the first of three consecutive top 25 opponents. The Cats will face #22 Mississippi State and #16 Kansas at Rupp on Tuesday and Saturday when ESPN’s College Game Day will broadcast from Lexington again.
Mississippi State enters this game with a 14-3 overall record, and 2-2 in the SEC. Mississippi State rolled through its non-conference schedule with a 12-1 record. The Bulldogs’ only non-conference loss was against #62 Arizona State by 5 points on a neutral court.
Among its most impressive non-conference wins are a 4 point win over #30 Saint Mary’s on a neutral court, and 11 point wins over #27 Cincinnati and #32 Wofford in Starkville. After their 12-1 non-conference start, the Bulldogs dropped their first two SEC games, at #120 South Carolina by 5 points and at home to #29 Mississippi by 4 points. Over the last week, Mississippi State won twice, over #23 Florida by 3 points and at #91 Vanderbilt by 16 points. The Bulldogs are 2-1 on the road this season and the Cats are undefeated at Rupp.
The Bulldogs’ schedule has a SOS value of 0.0477 ppp (#39). The Bulldogs’ ANE for the season stands at 0.202 ppp and their ANE over the last 5 games is 0,198 ppp.
The Cats’ schedule has a SOS value of 0.0408 ppp (#53). The Cats’ ANE for the season stands at 0.222 ppp and their ANE over the last 5 games is 0.273 ppp.
The ANE (Last 5 game basis) analysis indicates a Kentucky margin of 9 points, 78-69, in a game played at a pace of 69 possessions. As a matter of record, the traditional ANE analysis indicates a 6-point Kentucky advantage (77-71). Pomeroy has this game as 6 points in Kentucky’s favor, 75-69, at a pace of 67 possessions.
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