NCAA Basketball Game Preview: LSU at Kentucky

Feb 23, 2022

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Game: LSU Tigers @ Kentucky Wildcats  

Time: 9:00 p.m. ET 

Odds:  Tigers +7.5, Wildcats -7.5 

Total: 142.5 

LSU has been streaky this season. They had won three straight but then lost 77-75 to South Carolina on Saturday. The Tigers have just four wins in their last ten games and they are just .500 in SEC play this season. Still, they have a legitimate player of the year candidate in Tari Eason who has scored 21 or more points in four straight games. Plus, they beat Kentucky at home earlier this season. With a defense like the Tigers, a season sweep of the Wildcats seems possible. 

Kentucky (22-5) has won seven of its last eight games. The only loss was at Tennessee last week. The Wildcats followed that up with a 90-81 win over Alabama, a game in which Kentucky’s starting backcourt did not play. Tyty Washington and Sahvir Wheeler were out and are questionable for tonight’s game. That could be an advantage for LSU, one of the better defensive teams in both the SEC and the nation.  

The Tigers rank 21st in the nation in points allowed per game holding opponents to an average of 61.8 points. Interestingly, LSU has given up 64 or more points in each of its last ten games and five of the ten opponents scored at least 70. 

Sixth-ranked Kentucky is one of the highest-scoring teams in the country. The Wildcats average 80.9 points per game, which is ninth in the nation. Four players average in double figures for Kentucky led by Oscar Tshiebwe’s 16.4. Tshiebwe is also the nation’s leading rebounder averaging 15.2 boards per game. Washington scores 12.4 per game and Wheeler adds 9.6 points a game. 

At 19-8 overall, LSU appears to be a tournament team, but their next two weeks could play a role in whether or not they are selected. The Tigers will face Kentucky tonight and finish the season with games against Arkansas and Alabama, both ranked teams. A game against 10-18 Missouri is the only remaining game for LSU not against a ranked opponent. 

Beating Kentucky at home is no easy task. The Wildcats are a perfect 16-0 at Rupp Arena this season. In those 16 home games, Kentucky is 9-7 ATS. The Wildcats have covered in three of their last five games. LSU has not been strong against the number lately. The Tigers are just 2-7 ATS in their last nine games. They are just 3-5 ATS in road games this season. LSU did, however, cover in the first meeting this season when they beat Kentucky 65-60 as a two-point road favorite.  

Despite its great defense, LSU has seen the total go Over in seven of its last eight games. Remember, the Tigers gave up 75 or more points in four of those games. The total has gone Over in nine of Kentucky’s last 13 games against LSU. Over the last ten head-to-head games, the average total has been 151.2. In the last game at Kentucky, the Wildcats won 82-69. The total went Over (146).