Kentucky fans are excited about March once again due to the Wildcats' recent string of improved play, and on Saturday the momentum will be put to the test against a capable but up and down Auburn team.
Bruce Pearl is a familiar foe and the programs have had intense meetings.
Cats Illustrated writers share their takes on the game.
David Sisk: Kentucky comes into Saturday’s game feeling pretty good while Auburn is limping losing six of its last nine games. The Tigers come in as one of the worst shooting three-point teams in the country. They have improved that number over the last five games to a healthy 36.2%, but that hasn’t resulted in wins. They also shoot 51.6% from two and that’s where the Kentucky defense has struggled all year. Johni Broome causes problems inside, and Wendell Green Jr. and Jaylin Williams are experienced guards. Their huge issue has been giving up 73 points or more six times in the last nine as well. That is a recipe for disaster if the offense is struggling. Kentucky is playing better individually, and that has helped it collectively. The Cats continue their good play. Kentucky 78 Auburn 71
Travis Graf: Auburn comes into this one more desperate than Kentucky at the moment, so look for them to play like their hair is on fire. They need a win badly, especially a quad 1. This game comes down to Oscar Tshiebwe for me. I believe Kentucky’s backcourt will fare decently well and win that matchup, and I like Kentucky at the three and four spots, especially with the way Livingston and Toppin have played of late. Johni Broome is a lengthy shot blocker that does a good job of not picking up many fouls and is patient. I really believe Tshiebwe needs to win that matchup for Kentucky to come out on top. The spread opened at 1.5 and is now in the ballpark of 3.5, and I believe it’s spot on. Give me Kentucky 70, Auburn 68.
Justin Rowland: This has the feel of a game that's going to be tightly contested because its the time of year when both teams are going to treat it like a titanic contest. Auburn is better defensively than they are on offense, and that has typically been a good thing for Kentucky. That coupled with the momentum from recent wins leads me to pick Kentucky, but in a very close game. Kentucky 74, Auburn 69
Jeff Drummond: This is a tough matchup to predict due to the inconsistent nature of both teams at times during the season. Kentucky appears to have gotten on the right track, but Auburn is teetering on the bubble after losing six of its last nine. On a good night, Bruce Pearl's squad can be scary. The Tigers recorded a 33-point blowout of the same Mizzou squad that wallopped UK with authority. They also played competitively with Alabama and Tennessee, so the Cats have to be ready to compete Saturday. Kentucky is 50-2 against Auburn in Lexington, and I think the Cats will have enough to continue that hometown dominance in this one. Antonio Reeves has a big scoring day to lead the way to victory. Kentucky 77, Auburn 70