Kentucky Heads to Lubbock as 3.5-Point Underdogs to Texas Tech in Big 12-SEC Challenge Headliner

Kentucky Wildcats Basketball
No. 15 Kentucky has won six of its past seven games, and is 2-1 versus ranked opponents this season. Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire.
  • No. 15 Kentucky is a 3.5-point road underdog versus No. 18 Texas Tech on Saturday (6pm ET, Jan. 25)
  • The Wildcats have won six of their past seven
  • The Red Raiders have lost just twice at home over the past two seasons – check our betting prediction below

No. 15 Kentucky (14-4, 2-1 away) heads to Lubbock Saturday (6pm ET, Jan. 25) for a Big 12-SEC Challenge tilt with No. 18 Texas Tech (12-6, 9-1 home). This is arguably one of the biggest non-conference home games in Red Raiders’ history, and they’re pulling out all the stops to make sure their crowd is fired up.

The unique giveaway is bound to create a raucous atmosphere and will make the United Supermarkets Arena an even more imposing environment than usual. Texas Tech is 9-1 at home this season and is currently favored by 3.5-points.

No. 15 Kentucky vs No. 18 Texas Tech Odds

Team Spread Total at BetOnline
Kentucky Wildcats +3.5 (-115) Over 132.0 (-110)
Texas Tech Red Raiders -3.5 (-105) Under 132.0 (-110)

Odds taken Jan. 25th

The line for this game actually opened with the Red Raiders favored by five, but was quickly bet in the Wildcats favor. Kentucky has won six of its past seven, and is 2-1 ATS on the road this season.

Texas Tech, meanwhile, has dropped three of its past five and is coming off an upset loss at TCU. They’ve been dominant at home straight up, but have been mediocre ATS, covering in just five of nine home dates.

Defense is Still Texas Tech’s Calling Card

The Red Raiders shot the ball miserably versus the Horned Frogs and could only muster 54 points. Despite the horrendous offensive effort, their defense played well and held their opposition below 67 points for the 11th straight game. The Red Raiders rank 25th in points allowed and are holding enemy shooters to just 40% from the field.

They’re 27th in turnover margin and 20th in turnovers forced. They average 7.9 steals per game which bodes well against a Kentucky team that features six players who average at least 1.2 turnovers per contest.

Their biggest hurdle versus the Wildcats will be defending 6-foot-11 forward Nick Richards. Texas Tech starts four guards and their lone starting forward stands at just 6-foot-8. Expect Kentucky to try and pound the ball inside and take advantage of that mismatch.

A Balanced Attack

Richards leads the Wildcats in scoring and is one of four players who average double-digit points per game. Kentucky’s shooting has been hot and cold all season, but last time out versus Georgia, they knocked down 53% of their looks en route to a 10 point win.

The most notable performance from that game was the play of Ashton Hagans. The sophomore is one of the most talented point guards in the country, and he snapped out of a 14-for-43 shooting slump by making eight of his 17 attempts. If the Wildcats get that kind of production from him, and a strong inside game from Richards, they’ll be extremely tough to beat.

Spoiling the Party

Another reason to like Kentucky in this matchup is their stingy defense from beyond the arc. The Red Raiders love hoisting up threes, and the Wildcats have limited their opponents to just 29.2% from long range this season. Overall, Kentucky is holding its opposition to 38.7% from the field and in two victories versus top-six 2020 NCAA Tournament odds contenders, they’ve surrendered an average of just 66 points.

The early money bet on this game is all over the Wildcats and you should be too. The Red Raiders have struggled lately and it will take a lot more than just a rowdy crowd to take down a John Calipari-led team. Texas Tech is just 1-2 versus ranked opponents this season and lost at home to No. 1 Baylor just a couple of weeks ago.

Pick: Kentucky +3.5 (-115)

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