John Calipari takes top-ranked Kentucky on the road Saturday, and we've got a preview plus a free college basketball pick for the Wildcats' contest in Alabama against the Crimson Tide.
How much of a wake-up call last week's narrow overtime wins over Ole Miss and Texas A&M were for the Kentucky Wildcats remains to be seen. What we do know is the Wildcats came out with far more intensity earlier this week to score a rout against Missouri, keeping their perfect season intact at the halfway point of the 2013-14 college basketball betting campaign.
Now we get to see if Kentucky can maintain that intensity when the Wildcats travel south to Tuscaloosa for a Saturday tussle with the Alabama Crimson Tide. ESPN will televise the tip from Coleman Coliseum beginning at 4 PM (ET).
The Wildcats opened at -8½, the spread up a half-point since then; SBR's live college basketball odds will have the total just as soon as it's released.
Calipari 0-2 at 'Bama Since Coming To UK
Kentucky (16-0 straight up, 9-7 against the spread) did catch Missouri on an off night, the Tigers suffering through their worst game of the season offensively with just 37 points on 16-of-59 shooting from the field, 1-for-18 from 3-point range. As bad as Mizzou played, the Wildcats' performance can't be overlooked, however.
Aaron Harrison and Karl-Anthony Towns led the way for Kentucky, Harrison bouncing back from a couple of poor efforts to hit 5-of-7 treys to score a game-high 16. Towns registered his second double-double of the year with 12 points and 10 boards, adding five blocks to accent his evening.
Despite both of his platoons performing well, Calipari remains unsatisfied.
"We still have guys not playing the way they need to play for us to be special," Calipari said following the laugher vs. Mizzou. "No, if a guy doesn't do what he's supposed to he's coming out. I mean, I'm coaching a game."
Off Loss, Tide In Tough 2-Game Stretch
Like Missouri, Alabama (12-4 SU, 8-5-1 ATS) was among a few SEC teams expected to compete for possibly three additional NCAA Tourney slots behind Kentucky, Florida and Arkansas. Anthony Grant's group still looks like a team intent on making it to the big dance with a No. 44 slot on the latest RPI, but they face a difficult couple of games holding that ranking and coming off a loss.
The Crimson Tide saw a 6-game win streak come to an end Tuesday night at South Carolina, their 2nd-half rally falling short in a 68-66 setback. Alabama backers still grabbed the cash as 4-point underdogs on the college basketball odds, their third consecutive cover in SEC action.
'Bama & 'Cats Have Quick Rematch Lurking
Not only does Alabama have to deal with Kentucky this weekend, the Tide have trip to face No. 19 Arkansas next Thursday. That is followed by a couple of home matchups with Auburn and Florida before going to Kentucky to close out the month of January.
This is the first time since 1990-91 that Alabama and Kentucky are scheduled against each other twice in the regular season. The Wildcats have won eight of the last 10 meetings to take a 103-37 series stranglehold vs. the Crimson Tide heading into Saturday's scrap.
Those two Alabama wins came in Tuscaloosa since Calipari tool over in Lexington prior to the 2009-10 schedule. Not only has 'Bama kept Calipari from a win in Tuscaloosa during his UK tenure, the Tide have also covered six of the previous seven battles.
I'll be catching the trends and history train for my free NCAA Basketball pick in this SEC affair, taking the points on the home side.
Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Alabama +9 at The Greek
Season: 19-24 (-7.40)