Kentucky Travels to Auburn With Basketball College GameDay in Town For First Time Ever as 2.5-Point Favorite

kentucky wildcats celebrating
No. 10 Kentucky improved to 12-2 in SEC play with a win over Florida. Photo from @UKFanaticsOnly (Twitter).
  • ESPN College GameDay will be visiting Auburn for the first time as the Tigers host Kentucky
  • Kentucky forward Nick Richards is averaging 20.4 points and 11.3 rebounds in SEC play
  • Auburn has won three games in a row – check our betting prediction below

No. 13 Kentucky (16-4 overall, 3-1 road) travels to No. 17 Auburn (18-2 overall, 11-0 home) as a 2.5-point favorite at 6pm ET Saturday (Feb. 1) for an important SEC game with ESPN’s College GameDay coming to Auburn Arena for the first time.

#13 Kentucky vs #17 Auburn Odds

Team Spread Over/Under
Kentucky -2.5 (-110) Over 143 (-115)
Auburn +2.5 (-110) Under 143 (-105)

Odds taken Jan. 31

At 6-1, Kentucky is second in the SEC behind LSU (7-0). Auburn (5-2) is in third place, one game ahead of a logjam of six teams.

Kentucky has won four games in a row and eight of nine since taking back-to-back losses to Utah and Ohio State in mid-December. Auburn is on a three-game winning streak since sustaining both its losses this season in consecutive road games against Alabama and Florida in mid-January.

Both teams have a shot at the national title as can be seen at our 2020 NCAA Tournament odds tracker.

Richards Must Avoid Fouls

Kentucky junior forward Nick Richards was limited to 22 minutes because of foul trouble as the Wildcats rallied in the second half to beat lowly Vanderbilt 71-62 on Wednesday in Lexington.

Richards will need to be on the floor longer against Auburn.

Auburn is very adept at drawing fouls, leading the SEC with 25.9 free throw attempts a game. That figure also ranks eighth nationally.

Kentucky coach John Calipari has suggested the Tigers are good actors.

While his overall averages are 14.4 points and 8.3 rebounds a game this season, those numbers have risen to 20.4 and 11.3 in SEC play. The native of Jamaica also has nine double-doubles this season.

Richards will also be needed to battle another 6-foot-11 forward, Austin Wiley, in the battle on the boards. Wiley leads Auburn with 9.2 rebounds a game.

McLemore Lifts Auburn

Auburn will have an extra day of rest leading into this game and could use it. The Tigers needed to expend a lot of energy to overcome a 19-point deficit in the second half and edge Mississippi 83-82 in double overtime on the road Tuesday.

Senior forward Anfernee McLemore gave Auburn a spark off the bench by scoring 19 points and making five 3-pointers in 29 minutes. Coach Bruce Pearl has been able to trust his bench more during the current winning streak as freshman guard Devan Cambridge and sophomore guard Jamal Johnson have increased their productivity.

However, Pearl does not plan to makes any lineup changes.

McLemore is part of the reason Auburn has been shooting better from beyond the arc during the streak, making 34.6 of their shots. The Tigers were a combined 11 of 51 – 21.6 percent – in the two losses.

Identical Spread Records

Both teams are 9-11 against the spread this season. Kentucky has covered just twice in its last six games and Auburn has been the losing side in four of its past five games.

Here are how the teams match up in some key KenPom.com categories:

Kentucky vs Auburn Head-to-Head

Kentucky
VS
Auburn

+17.08 (33rd) Adjusted overall efficiency +16.54 (34th)
111.1 (32nd) Adjusted offensive efficiency 110.1 (48th)
94.0 (46th) Adjusted defensive efficiency 93.5 (40th)
68.1 (191st) Adjusted tempo 69.6 (109th)

The teams met three times last season and Kentucky won twice during the regular season. However, Auburn won when it counted most by downing the Wildcats 77-71 as a 4.5-point underdog in NCAA Tournament Midwest Region final to reach the Final Four for the first time in school history.

In the regular season, Kentucky won 82-80 as a 4.5-point underdog at Auburn and 80-53 as an eight-point favorite at home.

Kentucky won 32 of 33 games against Auburn from 1990-2015 and leads the all-time series 90-24. However, the schools have split the last six matchups.

The spotlight has rarely ever shined brighter on Auburn than it will with GameDay visiting The Plains.

The Tigers have gotten dinged in the eyes of many for playing a soft schedule. However, the advanced metrics say Auburn is basically the equal of Kentucky. It is tough to go against the Tigers in this situation.

The pick: Auburn +2.5 (-110)

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