By RICHARD CHEEKS, Contributing Writer
The mid-week SEC games were full of surprises. On Tuesday night, #162 Texas A&M defeated #51 Tennessee by 5 in Knoxville and # 33 Mississippi State defeated #36 Florida by 7 in Gainesville. #92 Georgia squandered a huge second half lead at #72 Missouri before falling to the Tigers by 3, and #19 Auburn needed overtime to beat #111 Mississippi by 1 in Oxford.
On Wednesday night, #88 South Carolina defeated #32 Arkansas in Fayetteville by 2. However, the biggest surprise of the week occurred at Rupp Arena when #22 Kentucky found itself down 10, 40-30, in the second half against #147 Vanderbilt. Fortunately for the Cats, Kentucky’s Nick Richards came to the rescue in the second half and carried his team to an eventual 9-point win.
Today the Cats are at Auburn and both teams will need to right their ships following their lackluster mid-week showings.
Auburn opened the 2019-20 season with 15 consecutive wins. During that span, they disposed of #69 Richmond by 14, #71 Furman by 3, #53 NC State by 6, and #33 Mississippi State by 12 in addition to an assorted diet of basketball cupcakes. Then the wheels seemed to come off their SEC Championship express when losing to #44 Alabama by 19 and #36 Florida by 22 in successive games. Since these back to back stumbles, Auburn has won three additional games, but the Tigers have been less impressive in doing so than they had been prior to their two losses, beating #88 South Carolina by 13, #79 Iowa State by 4, and the aforementioned win on Tuesday in overtime at Mississippi, after trailing most of the game, and at times by more than 20 points.
Through 20 games of the 2019-20 season, Auburn and Kentucky stand atop the SEC ratings with ANE values of 0.212 ppp and 0.204 ppp, respectively. Saturday’s game in Auburn will be the first of two games between these SEC Championship contenders.
Auburn’s current ANE is an 0.212 ppp against a schedule strength of 0.065 ppp and a tempo of 71.6 possessions per game. The Cats bring an ANE of 0.204 ppp into this game having played a schedule strength of 0.058 ppp at a tempo of 70.0 possessions per game.
Based on this data for these teams, an ANE analysis indicates this game will have a tempo of 71 possessions with the Cats losing by 4 points, 74-70.