By RICHARD CHEEKS, Contributing Writer
On Saturday, Kentucky played its strongest game of the season since the season opener against then #1 Michigan State and left Knoxville, Tennessee a 13 point winner. Auburn handed LSU its second consecutive loss in Auburn, Alabama and Florida took one on the chin at Mississippi to separate the SEC race into a three way tie for first place with LSU, Auburn and LSU with two losses each. Florida finds itself in 4h place with 4 losses tied South Carolina.
To night, the Cats will play on the road again, at Vanderbilt where LSU suffered its first SEC loss of the year this past Wednesday.
It is perilous to look ahead, but under the circumstances in the league race, all signs now point to February 18 in Baton Rouge when the Cats and Bengal Tigers collide with the SEC conference championship at stake. The Cats will play at Vanderbilt, as noted above, and entertain Mississippi while LSU will host Missouri on Tuesday and travel to Alabama next Saturday before the collision will happen in Baton Rouge. The winner of that critical game will have the inside track to the SEC regular season title with 5 games left.
However, the Cats must take care of business with Vanderbilt before any thing else can matter.
Vanderbilt’s current ANE is an 0..031 ppp against a schedule strength of 0.057 ppp and a tempo of 70.2 possessions per game. The Cats bring an ANE of 0.205 ppp into this game having played a schedule strength of 0.066 ppp at a tempo of 69.5 possessions per game.
Based on this data for these teams, an ANE analysis indicates this game will have a tempo of 70 possessions and the Cats should enjoy a 9 point margin, 76-67.