The unbeaten No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats (32-0) will play Auburn (15-19) in an SEC tournament semifinal game on Saturday at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. The matchup will pit the dominant Wildcats against an Auburn squad that has made an improbable run to advance to the semifinal round.
Kentucky rolled Florida 64-49 in their latest game to advance in the tournament while Auburn upset LSU (22-10), 73-70, in overtime to move on. Coach Bruce Pearl has the Tigers playing their best basketball at the right time. The squad came into the tournament as the 13-seed, but has outplayed the low expectations. Kentucky came into the tournament knowing that anything but their first SEC tournament championship since 2011 would be a disappointment.
An upset will not be an easy task for the Tigers. Kentucky has beaten Auburn 17 consecutive times, according to AL.com. The Wildcats also have a roster full of future NBA draft picks. Aaron Harrison (11.3 ppg), Devin Booker (10.6 ppg), Karl-Anthony Towns (9.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg) and Willie Cauley-Stein (8.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg) are the top four scorers for Kentucky. But the team has such depth that the next group of top scorers include stars like Andrew Harrison and Trey Lyles. The team is relentlessly talented.
Auburn will likely have to lean on senior guard KT Harrell if they want a shot at winning the game. He is the team’s leading scorer at 18.7 points per game and has been on fire lately as well. In Harrell’s last five games he’s dropped 29, 25, 19, 24 and 24 points. If Harrell can explode and score for the Tigers, they could have a shot at pulling off what would be a massive upset.
Kentucky averages 74.3 points per game as a team, while Auburn puts up just 68 per game. It will be a struggle for the Tigers to keep up. Pearl will need an immaculate game plan and some luck to beat Calipari’s squad. The Wildcats are chasing history, attempting to become an undefeated champion, while Auburn is chasing a faint hope of an NCAA tournament berth. The last time the two teams met, Kentucky walked over Auburn 110-75 on Feb. 21. The Wildcats used their frontcourt rotation to pound the Tigers and win easily. They’ll likely look to do the same in Saturday’s matchup.
Start Time: 1 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN
Live Stream: Online at WatchESPN
Prediction: Auburn will play hard and try to make it a competitive game. Harrell will try to get something going, but the Wildcats simply have too much talent. Kentucky wins, 80-67