By RICHARD CHEEKS, Contributing Writer
Prior to Saturday’s games, there were three contenders two games behind and still within reasonable reach of the Cats for the SEC regular season championship. Auburn came from down 17 in the second half to beat Tennessee and keep pace with the Cats. LSU survived its trip to Columbia South Carolina to keep pace with the Cats. The Cats took care of business and handed Florida its 5th SEC loss at Rupp, effectively eliminating the Gators from contention for the SEC regular season championship.
And then there were two chasing the Cats who have a commanding 2 game lead with 4 games to play. This week, LSU travels to face Florida, needing another road win to keep pace with the Cats, and Auburn will entertain Mississippi before its trip to Lexington next Saturday to face the league leading Cats. The Cats are in total control of their own destiny in this race. By next Sunday, the Cats will either have the deal sealed with 2 games to play or the Cats will stumble at least once this week and allow Auburn to hang around to the last scheduled games.
This week, the Cats travel to College Station, Texas to face the A&M Aggies. TEXAS A&M brings its 14-12, 8-6 record into the Tuesday night’s encounter with the Cats. However, TEXAS A&M has won its last 3 games over #97 Georgia by 5 (0.13 ppp Game ANE), #43 Alabama by 6 (0.30 ppp Game ANE), and #46 Mississippi State by 12 (0.28 ppp Game ANE), which represents the Aggies strongest three game sequence of the season for the Aggies
Kentucky brings a six-game winning streak into this game. After losing at #36 Auburn, the Cats have beaten #46 Mississippi State by 8 (0.21 ppp Game ANE), #54 Tennessee by 13 (0.42 ppp Game ANE), #150 Vanderbilt by 14 (0.29 ppp Game ANE), #99 Mississippi by 5 (0.12 ppp Game ANE), #33 LSU by 3 (0.29 ppp Game ANE), and #36 Florida by 6 (0.22 ppp Game ANE), which is an average ANE of 0.26 ppp over these last six games.
TEXAS A&M’s season ANE of 0.036 ppp against a schedule strength of 0.063 ppp and an average tempo of 65.8 possessions per game. Kentucky’s season ANE of 0.209 ppp against a schedule strength of 0.079 ppp at an average tempo of 69.1. The ANE analysis based on these season profiles points to an 8-point Kentucky win, 71-63 in a game played with 67 possessions.