Georgia Bulldogs @ Kentucky Wildcats (14): Game Preview

Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves. -- Confucius

This week has been interminable, and now that game day is here, I am content for the first time all week.

The Kentucky Wildcats fans I have talked to recently have unanimously asked me if they thought we could "get revenge" or "get some payback" on the Georgia Bulldogs for the defeat they handed us back on January 8th in Athens.  While I answered in the affirmative, it occurred to me that revenge is not what the Wildcats need.  What the Wildcats need is a victory in order to stay in touch with Florida in the East, and the Louisville Cardinals can keep all the thoughts of revenge.  They'll be gravediggers for some time, seems to me.

But enough Redbird-jibing.  Let's take a look at the season comparison, courtesy of Statsheet.com:







Kentucky Georgia

SEC standings:


Split W-L Pct W-L Pct
Rank Team Overall Conf
Home 9-0 1.0 9-2 0.818
1 Florida 16-4 5-1
Away 2-3 0.4 4-1 0.8
2 Alabama 12-7 4-1
Neutral 4-1 0.8 1-2 0.333
3 Kentucky 15-4 3-2
Conference 3-2 0.6 3-3 0.5
3 Vanderbilt 15-4 3-2
Conf Home 2-0 1.0 2-2 0.5
3 South Carolina 12-6 3-2
Conf Away 1-2 0.333 1-1 0.5
3 Tennessee 13-7 3-2
Conf Neutral 0-0 - 0-0 -
7 Georgia 14-5 3-3
Top 25 3-0 1.0 1-2 0.333
7 Arkansas 13-6 3-3
RPI 1-50 2-2 0.5 1-3 0.25
9 MState 10-9 2-3
RPI 51-100 3-1 0.75 1-1 0.5
9 LSU 10-10 2-3
RPI 101-150 1-0 1.0 3-0 1.0
11 Mississippi 13-7 1-4
RPI 151-200 4-1 0.8 2-0 1.0
12 Auburn 7-13 0-6
RPI 200+ 4-0 1.0 5-1 0.833

The Dawgs are coming off an excruciating double-overtime loss to the Florida Gators down in Athens, a game that is likely to affect the Dawgs coming into this game.  It will surely test their mettle, because Georgia really needed that game to avoid falling too far behind in the SEC East, especially considering that they were about to go on a two-game road trip to Kentucky and then to Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks.

For more on the Georgia Bulldogs' points of view, be sure to visit the home of the Red and Black on SBNation, the outstanding Dawg Sports.  Kyle King, MaconDawg & Co. have been doing a good job on basketball this year, and that's exciting to see.  Check out their game preview a day or two back here.

More after the jump.

Personnel

If you don't know the personnel on Georgia's team by heart at this point in the season, I worry for the intensity of your fandom.  But just in case you have been covered up by work and are just accessing the Internet for the first time this month, here we go:


Georgia Bulldogs Basketball Roster

# Pos. Comments W H College
Chris Barnes 4 F   Key inside reserve banger, 2nd most blocks
240 6-8 senior
Sherrard Brantley 23 G Major reserve 190 6-2 sophomore
Matt Bucklin 12 G Rarely plays 170 6-0 junior
Travis Leslie 1 G Starter, 2nd leading scorer and rebounder, sick athlete 205 6-4 junior
Connor Nolte 20 G Major reserve, good 3-pt shooter 205 6-7 senior
Jeremy Price 50 F Starter, big tough body down low
270 6-8 senior
Gerald Robinson 22 G Starter, speedy, slashing off guard, leading assist man
180 6-1 junior
Howard Trey Thompkins 33 F Starter, leading scorer, rebounder, all around stud
245 6-10 junior
Marcus Thornton 2 F Impact freshman, major reserve 225 6-7 freshman
Dustin Ware 3 G Starter, quick point guard, leading 3-pt shooter, 2nd leading assists
182 5-11 junior
Vincent Williams 11 G Major reserve 160 6-0 sophomore
Donte Williams 15 F Minor reserve 210 6-9 freshman

As you can see, the Dawgs are a deep team with talent on the bench.  In fact, Georgia is a very talented team overall, and the addition of Gerald Robinson has made them much more dangerous this year than last.  See my piece on Robinson earlier this week for why.

Injury Report

No injuries to report for either team.

Four Factors

 

 

Kentucky has a small advantage in shooting and a big advantage in ballhandling.  Georgia has a small offensive rebounding advantage.  The two teams get to the line virtually the same amount, but Kentucky is a slightly better free throw shooting team.

Overall Analysis

Kentucky is a much better offensive team than Georgia, overall, and a significantly better defensive team.  But past statistics aside, Georgia brings a toughness and energy to their games, particularly against Kentucky, that make this game very dangerous for the Wildcats.

As far as who needs this game more, there is no clear winner.  Georgia needs it badly, but UK needs it arguably just as badly, and because it is a home game for Kentucky and UK is ranked, it's the kind of game that the NCAA tournament will be looking closely at.  Kentucky is undefeated in Rupp Arena this year, and has generally shot the ball much better in Rupp, which really make a Dawg victory tough today on paper.

The problem for Kentucky is their inconsistency, particularly in road games.  Kentucky handled the Dawgs on the glass in Athens, but sent Georgia to the line to shoot a staggering 34 free throws to the Wildcats' 16.  Not only that, the 'Cats were unable to put the ball in the basket, managing only 42% from the field and allowing Georgia to shoot 48%.  UK should shoot better today, but the Dawgs have more than enough weapons if the Wildcats don't defend well.

Fortunately for Kentucky, they are coming off arguably their best defensive performance of the year against the South Carolina Gamecocks in Columbia.  Calipari's teams traditionally start to "get" defensive play around this time every year, and if Kentucky brings the defensive effort today that they brought last Saturday in Colonial Life Arena, the Dawgs have little chance of overcoming it.  Georgia isn't exactly offensively challenged, at 109.1 points/100 possessions (1.09 PPP) but they are playing the #9 offensive team in the land, averaging 118.3 points/100 possessions (1.18 PPP) in Ken Pomeroy's adjusted statistics.

Overall, my Magic Eight Ball says the outcome looks favorable for Kentucky in this one, but not without difficulty.

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