Kentucky at Missouri
When: 9:00 PM ET, Thursday, January 29, 2015
Where: Mizzou Arena, Columbia, Missouri
After a pair of close calls to begin January, No. 1 Kentucky has regained its dominant form by mostly having its way against the teams in the SEC basement. The Wildcats, who visit Missouri on Thursday, will wrap up a stretch in which four of their five games come against an opponent with one conference win. Since recovering from consecutive overtime victories to open 2015, Kentucky has blitzed three of its next four foes, with only Vanderbilt keeping the final margin below 15 points.
The Wildcats’ recent run began with an 86-37 rout of the Tigers on Jan. 13 – the largest margin of victory for Kentucky in a conference game since 2003 – and continued with Saturday’s 58-43 win at South Carolina. Missouri, which opened league play with an overtime win over LSU, has dropped five straight and been largely unable to enjoy much success in close games. That trend continued on Saturday when the Tigers lost their fourth straight contest decided by six or fewer points as sophomore guard Wes Clark missed two free throws with 3.3 seconds left in a 61-60 home setback against No. 25 Arkansas.TV:
9 p.m. ET, ESPN
ABOUT KENTUCKY (19-0, 6-0 SEC):
The Wildcats, who lead Division I in blocks (8.2) and own the nation’s best field-goal percentage defense (31.7), have held 10 of their opponents below 30 percent shooting. Willie Cauley-Stein (1.8 blocks) – one of five Kentucky players averaging at least one block per game – recorded two steals on Saturday to become the first player in Kentucky history with 200 or more blocks and 100 or more steals. Devin Booker (10.8 points), who collected his third consecutive SEC Freshman of the Week award on Monday, is averaging a team-high 14.5 points and is shooting 56.3 percent from the floor in four true road games this season.ABOUT MISSOURI (7-12, 1-5):
One of the few major statistical categories in which the Tigers don’t rank 10th or lower in the conference is long-range shooting, sitting third in 3-pointers per game (6.7), fifth in attempts (360) and sixth in percentage (35.3). Six of Missouri’s top seven scorers are sophomores or freshmen, with underclassmen Johnathan Williams III (team highs of 12.6 points and 7.1 rebounds, Montaque Gill-Caesar (10.8 points) and Clark (9.6 points, 1.8 steals) leading the way. The Tigers have done a poor job of getting to the foul line in league play, averaging 10.8 attempts after going to the stripe 21.7 times during non-conference action.
1. Kentucky’s 19-0 start is tied for the best under coach John Calipari, matching the 19 straight wins his Wildcats opened the season with in 2009-10.
2. The Wildcats have allowed 55 or fewer points 14 times, the most in school history in the shot-clock era (since 1985-86).
3. Kentucky has won all seven meetings against the Tigers, who have dropped six straight against ranked opponents.PREDICTION:
Kentucky 72, Missouri 48
Stats and Records