Kentucky vs. Auburn: Prediction, pick, odds, line, point spread, basketball game, tipoff time, preview

Kentucky can clinch the regular-season conference championship on Saturday when it hosts Auburn, its top challenger in the SEC. The No. 15 Tigers won the first meeting 75-66 on Feb. 1 and will draw within a game of the No. 8 Wildcats in the conference standings if they complete the season sweep.

Even with a win, Auburn (24-4, 14-4 SEC) would still need Kentucky (23-5, 13-2) to lose at least one of its final two games in order for the Tigers to have a shot at earning the No. 1 seed in the SEC Tournament. But conference standings aside, winning at Kentucky would be a statement victory for Auburn, considering that its best road wins so far are against bubble teams Alabama and Mississippi State.

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Auburn: The Tigers lost two of three games that Isaac Okoro missed because of a hamstring injury. But the star freshman forward returned Tuesday and helped Auburn to a 67-58 win over Ole Miss. With Okoro, Auburn looks like a team that could make another deep NCAA Tournament run. The Tigers entered the weekend as a projected No. 4 seed, according to CBS expert Jerry Palm. But improving upon that projection this weekend will be a challenge considering the Tigers have lost 17 straight at Rupp Arena.

Kentucky: The Wildcats have won seven in a row since losing at Auburn and should be plenty motivated for the rematch. The Wildcats were out rebounded 40-25 in the first meeting, and Auburn shot a whopping 44 free throws compared to just 24 for Kentucky. Junior forward Nick Richards entered the first game with nine straight double-digit scoring outings but scored just seven while guards Immanuel Quickley and Tyrese Maxey combined for 45 points. The backcourt duo continues to shoulder a heavy scoring load but will need more help on the interior this time if Kentucky wants a different result.

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Game prediction, pick 

Latest odds via SportsLine: Kentucky -5.5 

All four of Auburn’s losses have come on the road in the SEC, and all of them were double-digit defeats. Now Bruce Pearl’s squad heads to Rupp Arena with the Wildcats playing for a championship and motivated by an earlier loss to the Tigers. That’s not a recipe for success. Pick: KENTUCKY- 5.5

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