Georgia Bulldogs @ Kentucky Wildcats -- Pre-Game Analysis

A week removed from the game against the Louisville Cardinals, the Kentucky Wildcats finally swing into action again on Saturday in Rupp Arena against the Georgia Bulldogs.

Gone is Dennis Felton and his crew, replaced by new head man Mark Fox, the former coach of the Nevada Wolf Pack.  Here what the Bulldogs have done so far this year, courtesy of Statsheet.com:

 

Rank and Records UGA UK
RPI 96 16
Strength of Schedule 98 172
Overall 8-5 15-0
Conference 0-0 0-0
Home 7-1 10-0
Away 0-4 1-0
Neutral 1-0 4-0
Top 25 2-0 3-0
RPI Top 50 0-1 4-0

 

The Bulldogs come to Rupp Arena winning 4 of their last five games.  Their last game was a huge upset of the #20 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.  Georgia handled Tech by shooting a high percentage and holding Georgia Tech to only 40.8% eFG while shooting 51% themselves.  The Dawgs shot 50% from the arc and 83% from the line.

We will begin the analysis by the usual look at the dashboard. Don't forget, this thing is interactive.

Four Factors Analysis

As usual, thanks to A Sea of Blue member sylvar for producing the dashboard application above.

Unlike Louisville, Georgia and Kentucky are not really close offensively.  Kentucky averages over 55.5 eFG%, and the Bulldogs don't even break 50% at 47.9.  The Dawgs hold teams to an average of 47% defensively, but they have seen nothing like the potency of a John Wall-driven UK offense.

Turnover-wise, the Dawgs and the 'Cats are about equal. Both turn the ball over too much at around 22%.  Kentucky really needs to work hard to keep TO% under 20 if they are going to actually become a Final Four type team.  They probably don't need to do that to beat Georgia, but Georgia is a team that you can't take for granted.

Kentucky statistically dominates Georgia on the offensive glass with an OR% of 44.2 to Georgia's 36.1.  That is an ugly disparity, and if UK can get that kind of action going on Saturday, it will be a long day for the Red Clay Hounds.

As far as free throw rate is concerned, Georgia does a very good job getting to the line, even better than Kentucky does.  Actually, this is a bit of a weakness in this UK team, as they don't get to the line near often enough.  If you look at the green bar to the right, you'll see that top 10 teams from last year got there at about a 54% rate.

Defensively, it is much of the same.  UK his holding opponents to a lower shooting percentage than Georgia, forces a few more turnovers and takes care of the defensive glass.

Roster


Georgia Bulldogs Basketball Roster

# Pos. Comments W H College
Ebuka Anyaorah 5 G Role player 194 6-4 freshman
Chris Barnes 4 F Role player 240 6-8 junior
Matt Bucklin 12 G - 170 6-0 sophomore
Albert Jackson 34 F Starter, Limited role player 265 6-11 senior
Travis Leslie 1 G Starter, Go-to guy, dangerous offensive rebounder 202 6-4 sophomore
DeMario Mayfield 2 G - 190 6-4 freshman
Ricky McPhee 10 G Starter, Limited role player 184 6-1 senior
Jeremy Price 50 F Role player 264 6-8 junior
Gerald Robinson 22 G - 165 6-1 junior
Howard "Trey" Thompkins 33 F Starter, Go-to guy.  Shoots most of the shots
247 6-10 sophomore
Dustin Ware 3 G Starter Role player 182 5-11 sophomore
Tyler Whatley 25 F - 220 6-7 senior
Vincent Williams 11 G Limited role player 160 6-0 freshman
Drazen Zlovaric 41 F Limited role player 210 6-9 sophomore


Individual Statistics


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
Howard "Trey" Thompkins 13 28.3 5.8 12.4 46.6 0.5 1.4 38.9 4.2 5.5 75.0 2.4 5.6 8.0 1.4 3.0 1.4 1.3 2.3 16.2
Travis Leslie 13 24.6 4.8 9.7 49.2 0.1 0.2 50.0 3.2 4.3 75.0 2.5 3.0 5.5 1.9 2.4 0.9 1.1 2.2 12.8
Ricky McPhee 13 29.3 3.2 6.8 47.7 2.0 4.8 41.3 0.8 1.2 73.3 0.3 1.8 2.2 1.7 1.6 1.7 0.1 2.0 9.3
Dustin Ware 13 29.3 2.2 6.2 34.6 1.1 3.3 32.6 2.8 3.3 83.7 0.3 1.5 1.8 2.7 1.8 1.2 0.1 1.1 8.2
Jeremy Price 12 18.3 2.6 4.8 54.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.4 2.3 63.0 1.0 3.7 4.7 0.8 1.2 0.4 0.4 1.6 6.6
Albert Jackson 13 17.2 1.3 2.5 53.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 1.5 68.4 1.7 2.5 4.2 0.2 1.0 0.2 1.5 2.0 3.6
Chris Barnes 13 15.4 1.2 2.4 48.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.2 2.3 50.0 1.2 2.1 3.3 0.2 1.1 0.5 1.0 1.2 3.5
Ebuka Anyaorah 11 10.6 0.8 2.4 34.6 0.2 0.8 22.2 0.8 0.9 90.0 0.3 0.9 1.2 0.8 0.9 0.1 0.2 0.5 2.6
Tyler Whatley 3 3.3 0.3 1.0 33.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 1.0 100.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.3 1.7
Drazen Zlovaric 12 10.9 0.7 2.5 26.7 0.0 0.4 0.0 0.2 0.3 50.0 0.3 0.4 0.8 0.8 0.6 0.1 0.1 0.5 1.5
Vincent Williams 13 10.7 0.3 1.9 16.0 0.1 0.8 9.1 0.3 0.6 50.0 0.2 0.4 0.5 1.2 0.7 0.3 0.0 1.1 1.0
DeMario Mayfield 12 8.8 0.3 0.8 40.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.5 66.7 0.1 0.9 1.0 0.5 0.7 0.2 0.0 0.9 1.0
Matt Bucklin 3 2.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.3 0.0 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0


Position Analysis: Point guard

Dustin Ware is the Bulldog's starting point guard.  Ware is a sophomore and a solid player, very quick and generally takes very good care of the ball.  He is showing almost two turnovers per game in his stats, but six of them came in one game versus the Missouri Tigers.

Ware is not a go-to shooter for the Dawgs, but he does lead the team in assists and can make the three at a very respectable 32%.  He is a good free throw shooter at 84%, and a pesky defender.

Ware is no match for John Wall in any way.  Wall is taller, faster, stronger and a better shooter from everywhere and is 12th in the nation in assist rate.  As with most SEC teams, this is a mismatch.

Advantage:  Kentucky

Position Analysis:  Shooting guard

The starter at shooting guard for Georgia is Ricky McPhee.  McPhee is a transfer from Gardener-Webb and a senior.  He averages about 9 points per game, and is a very dangerous 3-point shooter at 41.3%, and shoots most of them for the Dawgs.

McPhee is a bit undersized at 6'1", but he is a mature, cagey player who can get open looks and make them.  McPhee is a solid ballhandler and a good defender.

Eric Blesoe is more athletic than McPhee, and has been UK's best perimeter defender lately.  This should be a very good matchup, as I think both players will have some success offensively against the other -- Bledsoe going to the hole, and McPhee spotting up for the three.

Advantage: Draw

Position Analysis:  Small Forward

Travis Leslie is the small forward for the Georgia Bulldogs, an athletic sophomore who can score a number of ways.  Leslie averages 13 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, which would belie his relatively small stature at 6'4".  Leslie also gets over one block per game on average, so he can really get up in the air.

But don't let the 50% 3-point shooting scare you -- Leslie has only taken two all year.  He gets his points by slashing to the basket and by getting offensive rebounds.

Darius Miller has a length and height advantage over Leslie, but Leslie is the more explosive of the two players.  This will be a good test for Miller, because Leslie will really work him down low.  Miller, however, is bigger, stronger and more talented than Leslie overall.

It is important that Miller keeps Leslie in front of him, because he is good off the bounce and will try to slash into the lane.

Advantage: Kentucky

Position analysis:  Power Forward

Howard "Trey" Thompkins is the power forward for Georgia, and he is a really good one.  This guy is a genuine blue-chipper in the mold of Patrick Patterson, only with more of a perimeter game earlier in his career.

Thompkins is big at 6'10" and 245#, and has all the skills you would ever want in a college 4.  He averages 16 points/8 rebounds and shoots 39% from the arc.  He does most of his damage inside, though, and even though he can stroke the three, he only takes about 12% of the outside shots for Georgia.  Thomkins has had a 35 point game already this year, but does struggle a bit with fouls.  He has had four or more fouls 4 times this year, and has fouled out once.

This is one guy that Patrick Patterson does not have a huge advantage on.  Patterson is a bit more athletic than Thompkins, and runs the floor better, but Thompkins is just as big and just as strong, and has a deft touch around the basket.  He has soft hands and is a big target.

But Patterson is a more accomplished player than the sophomore Thompkins.  Patterson is a better post defender, and that would tilt this match up slightly toward Patterson.

Advantage:  Slight Kentucky

Position Analysis:  Center

Albert Jackson is the center for the Georgia Bulldogs, and a bigger, stronger bruiser than this guy does not exist in the SEC unless it is DeMarcus Cousins.

At 6'11"/265#, Jackson is just as big, bulky, and arguably stronger than Cousins.  He is also a senior, and was highly touted coming out of high school, and is from Earlington, Kentucky, another example of one that got away.  Jackson doesn't play that many minutes, nor does he score much, but he is a good rebounder on a per-minute basis, and is a very strong post defender and takes up a lot of room inside.

Unfortunately, Jackson will not be able to manhandle his opponent in this game.  Even though he is similar in size to DeMarcus Cousins, he is nowhere near as talented offensively, nor as relentless on the glass.  Jackson also tends to foul quite a bit per minute played, which means that Cousins is likely to spend a bit of time on the line.

Jackson is big, but Cousins has the moves and the offensive game.  Jackson is not much of a threat offensively against a player like Cousins, so this one is an easy call.

Advantage:  Kentucky

Bench Analysis

The Dawgs actually have a very solid, big bench with Chris Barnes, Jeremy Price and Ebuka Anyaorah as well as Drazen Zlorvaric.  If anything, they are even bigger than UK off the pine, although Kentucky's depth is quite a bit more talented than that of the Bulldogs.

Advantage:  Kentucky

 

Overall analysis

Kentucky is a very young team, but Georgia is not much more experienced than the 'Cats.  The talent difference, though, is quite a bit more magnified.  While Georgia has some nice players to go with the outstanding Trey Thompkins, they don't have the full range of quality players that Kentucky does.

Georgia will definitely challenge Kentucky physically.  This is a big, strong team that can rebound and finish at the rim, and Thompkins is an eventual first-round draft pick.  So don't think these Dawgs don't have some bite -- they absolutely do, as Gani Lawal & Co. found out the other day when the Yellow Jackets bit the dust.

Kentucky must stick to their knitting, get the ball into the post and kick it out for open shots.  Georgia is mostly a man to man team, although I'm certain they will throw in some zone against the 'Cats.  The Dawgs will try to push Kentucky around with their size and strength, and this young UK team must stand up to the challenge.

The Bulldogs like a slower pace than Kentucky, but they can play at Kentucky's pace if they want to.  They may try to slow it down a bit to make Kentucky uncomfortable, though.

Three point shooting could become important in this game, and UK cannot afford to allow Georgia to get a bunch of open shots, because the Dawgs can knock them down.  All in all, the 'Cats need a strong performance against Georgia, or face the possibility of an upset.

Projected score:  Kentucky 85, Georgia 65

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