Georgia Bulldogs at Kentucky Wildcats: Game Preview

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Fox brings his pack of Dawgs to the Bluegrass tomorrow for a 'Cat fight.

The Georgia Bulldogs, a fellow 4-1 team in the SEC, will be coming up to the frozen tundra of Alaska Lexington to take on the Kentucky Wildcats in a sport Georgia fans rarely have a use for. But Kentucky fans really do care about basketball, and plenty of them will no doubt be around to welcome the Dawgs to Rupp Arean: Say, around 20,000 or so.

General

About Georgia

  • Location: Athens, Georgia
  • Conference: SEC
  • Head Coach: Mark Fox (Since 2009)
  • NCAA Appearances: 11
  • Most recent NCAA appearance: 2011
  • Most recent NCAA win: 2002
  • Founded: 1875
  • Enrollment: 24,607
  • Last season's record 15-17 overall, 9-9 in conference

Source: Basketball State

Season so far for Georgia:

  • Season record: 10-7 (4-1 SEC)

Georgia got off to a rough start, losing 4 of their first five games to fairly weak competition. The strongest of their first five foes was ... Nebraska. The only one they managed to beat was Wofford.

Since then, the Dawgs have been better, losing to mainly decent foes and getting a couple of top 50 wins at Missouri and vs. Arkansas. Florida handed them their only SEC defeat in Gainesville, certainly a forgivable loss to a top 10 team.

Series history

Overall, the Bulldogs are 26-115 versus Kentucky, one of the more lopsided series in the SEC. Only five times has Georgia ever won in Lexington in 141 games.

Georgia's most successful stretch against Kentucky was between 2000 and 2004, where they went 4-2 against the Wildcats.

The most points ever scored by a Dawg against UK was 38 by Litterial Green in 1991. Kentucky scored 143 points on Georgia in 1956.

Source: BigBlueHistory.net

Stats

Team Comparison

Rank and Records UGA UK
RPI #127 #12
Strength of Schedule #115 #7
Overall 10-7 14-4
Conference 4-1 4-1
Home 9-1 12-0
Away 1-3 1-2
Top 25 0-1 1-2
RPI Top 50 0-3 4-2

Courtesy of Statsheet.com

Four Factors

As you can see, Georgia is a solid rebounding team and draws a lot of fouls.  Kentucky is better at both, as well as shooting and taking care of the ball, but not by a lot.  This is a solid Bulldog squad.

Georgia Roster

# Name Status Pos Height Weight Class Hometown Games PPG RPG APG
2 Thornton, Marcus S*+ F 6-8 235 Jr. Atlanta, GA 17 7.5 5.6 0.5
15 Williams, Donte S** F 6-9 225 Sr. Ellenwood, GA 17 5.9 5.5 0.4
31 Morris, Brandon S** F 6-7 215 So. Lithonia, GA 14 9.0 3.8 1.5
4 Mann, Charles S* G 6-5 210 So. Alpharetta, GA 16 13.1 3.2 2.9
12 Gaines, Kenny S* G 6-3 195 So. Atlanta, GA 17 12.0 2.5 1.2
42 Djurisic, Nemanja MR* F 6-8 230 Jr. Podgorica 17 10.5 4.1 1.0
3 Parker, Juwan MR G 6-4 200 Fr. Tulsa, OK 17 5.0 3.8 1.1
11 Forte, Cameron MR F 6-7 220 So. Tempe, AZ 17 4.5 2.8 0.9
5 Dixon, Tim R* F 6-10 230 Jr. Columbus, GA 16 1.0 1.3 0.2
10 Echols, Taylor R* G 6-1 160 Jr. McDonough, GA 11 2.2 0.7 0.5
14 Young, Brandon R G 5-10 160 Fr. Atlanta, GA 6 0.0 0.0 0.0
20 Langura, Dusan R G 6-4 210 Fr. Romont 1 0.0 0.0 0.0
24 Kessler, Houston R+ F 6-8 225 Fr. Newnan, GA 6 0.0 0.7 0.2
25 Paul Geno, Kenny R F 6-6 200 Fr. Booneville, MS 10 0.9 0.8 0.2
30 Frazier, J.J. R G 5-10 150 Fr. Glennville, GA 13 2.3 0.9 0.8
41 Cannon, John R* C 6-10 240 Jr. Burnsville, NC 10 2.3 1.3 0.0













Legend









S Starter









MR Major reserve









R Reserve









* Returning player









** Returning starter









+ Redshirt last season









Courtesy of Basketball State

Player notes

  • Charles Mann not only leads Georgia in scoring, but also in assists and steals. He is one of the best in the country at getting to the free throw line, although he is not a great free throw shooter. He is also the team's second-leading 3-point shooter.

  • Marcus Thornton was recruited by Kentucky before he committed to Georgia in 2010. Thornton is the Dawgs' leading rebounder and offensive rebounder. He also blocks a fair amount of shots and draws a considerable number of fouls, although he is a poor free throw shooter.

  • Nemanja Djurisic is Georgia's most efficient offensive player, and he comes off the bench. Djurisic is a 3-point assassin, making 54% of his shots from the arc.

  • Donte' Williams blocks the most shots for Georgia, but he isn't much of a scoring threat

  • Brandon Morris is a very efficient player, doing most of his damage from inside the arc, where he's shooting over 60%

Injuries

  • None known for either side

Likely matchups

Starters

  • Charles Mann vs. Andrew Harrison — Mann is nearly as tall as Andrew at the point, and really likes to get to the rim when he can. This will be a big test for Andrew, as Mann is a very good player with excellent quickness, and he draws a ton of fouls. It will be a challenge for Andrew to stay out of foul trouble against him.

Advantage: Draw

  • Kenny Gaines vs. Aaron Harrison — Gaines and Harrison are kind of similar players. Neither of them is shooting the ball great from outside this year, and both like to get to the rim. Andrew is just better at it.

Advantage: Kentucky

  • Brandon Morris vs. James Young — Morris is a tough player who is as long and athletic as Young. He isn't really a 3-point threat, preferring to slash to the hoop and do his damage near the rim. Young is more versatile and quicker, but he will have to work hard to avoid fouling Morris, who draws a ton of them.

Advantage: Kentucky

  • Marcus Thornton vs. Julius Randle — It's the cagey veteran, Thornton, against the bigger and more talented Randle. This should be a pretty good matchup, but Randle is both a superior athlete and bigger man.

Advantage: Kentucky

  • Donte' Williams vs. Willie Cauley-Stein — I'm assuming Willie will get the start again, but it could be Dakari Johnson in his place. Williams is a better matchup for Cauley-Stein, although I think WCS is better overall. I think Johnson is too big for Williams to handle defensively, but Williams is a senior and a very crafty player.

Advantage: Kentucky

Bench

Georgia actually has a nice bench. Forte is a very good player, and Djurisic is a bench player in name only. Taylor Echols can really shoot the ball. I'll give the nod to Kentucky, but it's close.

Advantage: Kentucky

Analysis

The fundamentals of this game favor Kentucky — it's in Rupp Arena, Kentucky is mostly better at everything than the Dawgs are on the season, and Georgia has historically struggled in Lexington, even in the days of Dominique Wilkins, where Georgia was unable to win even one game.

This team has no Dominique Wilkins, but they are a well-coached team by Mark Fox with some pretty good pieces, and they are a very good rebounding team. Georgia is fully capable of going to war on the glass with Kentucky, and Djurisic, with his size and range, is a very tough matchup for anyone.

Georgia is a man-to-man team, and I don't expect to see Fox throw up a zone against Kentucky. What Kentucky has to worry about with Georgia is that they do a pretty good job of switching on pick-and-rolls, and they are big enough in the back court to get away with it more often than most teams. They are also quick enough to stay with Kentucky at most positions, although Randle will have a quickness advantage against Thornton.

What Kentucky needs to do in this game is get ahead as soon as possible, because Georgia is not built to try to catch up from behind. They are a deliberate, execution-style offensive team, and they love to send Mann careening toward the goal off the high pick, just like Kentucky likes to do with the Harrison twins. The trick for Kentucky will be to stay out of foul trouble. Mann's penetration is going to be a problem for Kentucky, and UK must find a way to force him to give up the ball.

Kentucky's biggest advantage is their overall size. Georgia has good size for any team, but lacks the bulk necessary to compete with Kentucky on the boards like Tennessee did. But they won't lack for effort there, as Thornton and Williams are very live bodies and will be active. It will require good blockout technique to prevent them from getting offensive boards.

Kentucky should win this one, but it is likely to be a bit of a fight. Georgia has some nice players and they are a solid offensive and defensive execution team. To be honest, their offense looks a lot like Kentucky's in the half court, and Mann is a very good penetrator. He tends to dribble the ball a lot, though, rather than move it.

In transition, Georigia is solid, and Kentucky must get back. Georgia teams of the past have been loath to run and content to jut play in the half court, but this team will run if it can, although it won't press a disadvantage as Kentucky is wont to do.

In summary, blockouts and controlling fouls will be critical for Kentucky in this game. The Wildcats must continue to make free throws and get back in transition to avoid a Georgia break. Kentucky needs to avoid an early deficit, because Georgia is much better playing ahead than behind. They don't have the "spurtability" of Kentucky, but they are excellent at keeping a lead once they get it.

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