Kentucky will look to extend its winning streak on Wednesday night as it travels to face LSU on the road.

Both the Wildcats and Tigers are coming off of big wins and are hoping to keep the momentum going for another game.

Here’s a breakdown of how these teams match-up going into this SEC contest: 

Kentucky vs. LSU Betting Odds

Spread: Kentucky -6.5 (DraftKings)

Total: Over/Under 163 points (DraftKings)

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Betting trends to know for Kentucky

Kentucky is…

  • 15-10 against the spread
  • 5-2 against the spread on the road
  • 11-9 against the spread as a favorite
  • 3-1 against the spread as a road favorite

Betting trends to know for LSU

LSU is…

  • 11-14 against the spread
  • 5-8 against the spread at home
  • 5-8 against the spread as an underdog
  • 0-2 against the spread as a home underdog

3 notes for the game

Kentucky’s defense is trending up

For a 9-game stretch from Jan. 13 through Feb. 10, Kentucky’s defense was a disaster. The Wildcats went just 4-5 over that stretch and allowed opponents to score more than 1.1 points per possession in 7 of those contests.

After the last 2 games, it seems the Wildcats have turned the corner. Kentucky has won back-to-back games over Ole Miss and Auburn while limiting those teams to well under 0.9 points per possession. It’s the first time all season that Kentucky has accomplished that feat.

The win over Auburn was particularly impressive as it was the Tigers’ first home loss of the year. Auburn had been a pretty dominant offensive team, particularly in transition. Against the Wildcats, Auburn shot just 39% from the floor and only 18% from beyond the arc.

Kentucky’s uncertain rotation

Kentucky does have at least one major injury-related question mark coming into this game — as it often has this season. Power forward Tre Mitchell is dealing with a shoulder injury and has missed 3 of UK’s last 4 games. Mitchell didn’t practice on Monday as the team prepares to face LSU, per John Calipari. Mitchell is averaging 12 points per game this season and gives the Wildcats solid floor-spacing (33.3% from long range) from the power forward position.

There’s also the matter of freshman point guard Rob Dillingham, who has had a slightly-reduced role in Kentucky’s last couple games as the Wildcats try to fix their defensive woes. Dillingham has come off the bench all year, but played just 19 minutes per game against the Rebels and Tigers in UK’s last 2 games. Dillingham also played a reduced role in the loss to Gonzaga (18 minutes) as the Bulldogs were quick to attack him on the defensive end of the floor.

It will be interesting to monitor Dillingham’s minutes against LSU. He’s been a weakness defensively for the Wildcats this season, but he’s also one of the most dynamic guards in the country on the other end. He’s scored 20+ points on 5 occasions this year and is shooting nearly 45% from 3-point range on a high volume of attempts. If Kentucky needs a spark plug on the road, I’d expect Dillingham to get some extended run — for better or worse.

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LSU is coming off of its best win of the season

Like Kentucky, LSU is coming off of what is perhaps its best win of the season against South Carolina last time out. The Tigers defeated the NCAA Tournament-hopeful Gamecocks 64-63 on the road. The Tiger had dropped 6 of their previous 7 games before that win over the Gamecocks.

It’s tough to know if this LSU team has turned a corner or if the win over South Carolina was more of a fluke. I’d lean closer toward it being a one-off good performance for the Tigers as South Carolina attempted just 6 free throws in that contest. It was the lowest free throw rate for the Gamecocks all season and the lowest free throw rate allowed by LSU in any game so far this season. A normal game at the foul line for South Carolina likely would have tilted the scale in its favor.

Ironically, LSU did not have arguably its most visible offensive player available for the South Carolina game in Jalen Cook. Cook has a usage rate north of 30% and leads the Tigers in scoring at 15.6 points per game (albeit in just 13 contests this season). Cook missed LSU’s first 10 games to start the year and is now dealing with a leg injury. LSU coach Matt McMahon told reporters on Tuesday that a decision on Cook’s status would be made on game day.

1 pick for this game

LSU +6.5. This line was at Kentucky -3.5 at one point in the day on Tuesday. At that number, I’d probably take the Wildcats. I’m presuming that the movement in this line has something to do with the status of Cook for LSU and Mitchell for Kentucky. But it seems to be too much over an over-correction to me, as I’m not sure either of those players is worth that much of adjustment to the line. Cook has been relatively inefficient with his opportunities this season. He has just a 52% true shooting percentage and a nearly-equal assist-to-turnover ratio. Trae Hannibal, who has received a minutes increase in Cook’s absence, has also played well this season. Mitchell is a solid offensive player, but the Wildcats have still been able to score at a high rate without him. Kentucky has also been the second “luckiest” team in the SEC so far this season, per ShotQuality. I’m happy to take the points and the home team in this spot. 

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