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Kentucky vs. Missouri Odds, Picks | NCAAB Betting Preview (Dec. 28)

Kentucky vs. Missouri Odds, Picks | NCAAB Betting Preview (Dec. 28) article feature image
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Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe.

  • Kentucky's quest to win the SEC begins on Wednesday night when it faces off against Missouri on the road.
  • The Tigers are coming off of a monster win at home against Illinois before the holiday break.
  • Can they continue the success in their home gym? Alex Hinton breaks it all down.

Kentucky vs. Missouri Odds

Wednesday, Dec. 28
7 p.m. ET
SEC Network
Kentucky Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-2
-110
152.5
-110o / -110u
N/A
Missouri Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+2
-110
152.5
-110o / -110u
N/A
Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

After a loss to UCLA at Madison Square Garden, Kentucky got back on track with an 88-68 win over Florida A&M last Wednesday.

Kentucky improved to 8-3 and comes in at No. 19 in the AP Top 25. Next, the Wildcats will begin SEC play, where they are one of the betting favorites to win the conference after finishing tied for second in the regular season last year.

Their quest for a regular-season SEC title will begin Wednesday night at Missouri.

Missouri finished 12th in the SEC last season and 12-21 overall. This year, it’s off to an 11-1 start with its lone loss coming at the hands of rival Kansas.

Last time out, Missouri thrashed another rival with a 93-71 victory over Illinois. Now back at home, it will be looking to match last season’s win total and pick up a statement win over the Wildcats.

Kentucky has had its way with Missouri, winning 10 of the 12 meetings since Missouri joined the conference in 2012. That includes a 27-point win in Lexington last season.

This year, the Wildcats are favored by just three points. Can they handle an improved Missouri team on Wednesday night?


Kentucky Wildcats

Kentucky is led by the nation’s reigning National Player of the Year, forward Oscar Tshiebwe.

After an offseason knee procedure caused him to miss the Wildcats’ first two games, Tshiebwe has looked more like himself of late. The senior is averaging 15 points and 13 rebounds per game and has racked up seven double-doubles in nine games.

The Wildcats spread the floor with a lot of 3-point shooting around Tshiebwe. Illinois State transfer Antonio Reeves averages 12.8 points per game and shoots nearly 44% from 3, while freshman guard Cason Wallace is putting up 11.8 points, 4.4 assists and a 50% clip from deep.

Guard C.J. Fredrick and forward Chris Livingston are both shooting 40% off the bench as well.

Kentucky ranks eighth nationally in 3-point percentage. Its long-range marksmanship paces an offense that ranks 25th in adjusted offensive efficiency.

The Cats also get 62.2% of its baskets off of assists, which ranks 17th nationally. Point guard Sahvir Wheeler is the conductor of the offense and averages 6.3 assists per game.

The Wildcats rebound 37.6% of their misses as well, ranking 12th in offensive rebounding percentage and 11th in offensive rebounds per game. Tshiebwe leads the way with five offensive rebounds per game.

The reigning NPOY also leads the effort on defense.

Tshiebwe paces the team with 1.6 blocks per game and ranks second on the squad with 1.7 steals. Wallace leads the team with 2.5 steals per game and ranks fourth in the SEC in that category.

Kentucky sits 13th in adjusted defensive efficiency, 19th in 2-point field goal percentage defense and 36th in effective field goal percentage.

The Wildcats will need a strong defensive performance to pull out a road win at Missouri.

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Missouri Tigers

Missouri’s offense has sparked its 11-1 start. The Tigers have scored 80 points or more in 10 of their 12 games this season. They rank fourth in scoring offense (88.8 PPG), third in offensive rating and third in adjusted offensive efficiency.

All five starters are averaging double figures, led by guard D’Moi Hodge. The senior is averaging 16.7 points and 4.1 rebounds while shooting 42.4% from 3.

Forward Kobe Brown averages 14.4 points and 5.7 boards all while hitting at a 61% clip from the field. The senior is coming off a huge performance against Illinois in which he finished with 31 points, eight assists, five rebounds and four steals. He was named National and SEC Player of the Week for his efforts.

Like Kentucky, Missouri also shoots the 3-ball very well at 36.9% as a team. However, it relies on its perimeter shooting even more. Missouri comes in at 16th nationally in 3-pointers made per game, 26th in 3-point attempts per game. Of all field goal attempts, 42% come from beyond the arc.

Hodge, Brown and guard Nick Honor are all hitting at least 40% from deep.

The Tigers are dangerous inside the arc as well, ranking second in 2-point field goal percentage and effective field goal percentage. However, they will need to show improvement on the defensive end to compete in the SEC.

Missouri enters ranked 148th in adjusted defensive efficiency, 217th in effective field goal percentage and 280th in 3-point defense.

It’s also 347th in defensive rebounding percentage, which stems from its lack of length. Brown is the tallest in the Tigers’ rotation at 6-foot-8.

Missouri makes up for that by pressuring opponents into turnovers. The Tigers are first nationally in steals per game and steal percentage and fourth in turnover percentage.

Hodge leads the team and the SEC with 2.8 steals per game and is one of seven Tigers averaging more than one steal per game.


Kentucky vs. Missouri Betting Pick

Winning on the road in conference play is tough, and Missouri will have a sold-out crowd for its conference opener. However, there are a couple of reasons why I like Kentucky in this spot.

The Wildcats are one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country and face a Tigers team that struggles to defend the triple. Kentucky also may get a few 3s off of second chances, setting up open opportunities to reload.

Led by Tshiebwe — who I expect to post another double-double — Kentucky should dominate the offensive glass in this matchup.

Wheeler gives Kentucky a veteran ballhandler to handle Missouri’s pressure. Cats head coach John Calipari recently mentioned downsizing his roster to have more ballhandlers on the floor as well.

Missouri forced just 14 turnovers against Kansas — six below its season average — and lost by a score of 95-67.

I don’t expect Kentucky to win by 28, but I do like the Wildcats to win by at least three points.

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