Kentucky brings a 29-11 all-time mark at Stegeman Coliseum, plus a chip on its shoulder after suffering its first conference loss last Saturday (Vanderbilt), into tonight's 7 p.m. ET tip-off against host Georgia. There is a lot at stake in this game for both teams, and a lot of history here as well.
Most clearly, Georgia is where Tubby really got on the map. While Smith's teams at Tulsa were upstarts, his teams at Georgia were considered threats in the SEC. Tubby has long roots in Georgia, and has recruited there heavily over his coaching career.
Dennis Felton, the UGA coach, has also been a thorn in Tubby's side over the last few years. From his Team Turmoil-downing Western Kentucky team to his Hayes twins-led Cat killers, Felton's bruising style of play is downright Tubby-esque at times.
The Wildcats have said all the right things after the Vandy loss, even admitting to a team meeting on Sunday to iron out a few things. It's entirely possible that even a solid outing from the Cats won't be enough, especially as well as the Bulldogs have played and as tough as it is to win on the road in the SEC.
But a road win at UGA would be a huge boost for this Cats team, if only to show they have shaken that lingering doubt that they get rattled by a loss.
Georgia, on the other hand, is aching for that big win. They had Alabama on the ropes in Tuscaloosa last weekend, only to see a desperation shot and some dicey calls snatch the win away. You better believe they won't go down without baring some teeth in this one.
Truz has the in-depth analysis of the game you're looking for. Mine's just sausage on the cake.
What to look for:
* Young pups?: Felton has finally begun to emerge from the shadows of probation and sanctions that Jim Harrick left piled on his lawn. His guard-heavy attack is fast-paced and prone to streaky stretches where they can't miss or they can't hit anything. Tubby prides himself on consistent effort and focus. Will that diligence prove enough if the Bulldogs start canning threes like Vandy did?
* Uncle Junior: Ramel Bradley has been given the green light to be the vocal team leader of this group and the results have been generally good. The Vandy game was vintage 'frustrating Smoov', with some mental lapses leading to trying to do too much. But during the 11-game win streak, Bradley was playing great all-around basketball, and his leadership -- whether by example or by voice -- is essential as the SEC season goes on.
* Schizo-fania: So which is it? If the Cats win on the road and it's ugly, are they capable of winning the SEC? Or if they lose, but play great offense, is that more acceptable? The yin-yang Big Blue Nation is a real pain right now, with loudmouths talking about all that's wrong with the program during an 11-1 stretch of games. That said, asking where the marquee wins to hang your hat on are is not too much to ask. This game could help ease those mental pangs or increase them 10-fold.
Probable starting lineupsKentucky
PG: Derrick Jasper (6'6"/213 Fr.) 5.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.4 apg
SG: Ramel Bradley (6'3"/175 Jr.) 13.3 ppg, *3.8 apg
3G: Joe Crawford (6'5"/211 Jr.) 14.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg
C: Randolph Morris (6'11"/259 Jr.) 16.2 ppg, 8.1 rpg
SF: Bobby Perry (6'9"/215 Sr.) 7.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg
F Perry Stevenson, F Sheray Thomas, F Ramon Harris, C Lukasz Obrzut, G Jodie Meeks, G Michael Porter
PG: Sundiata Gaines (6'1"/205 Jr.) 9.3 ppg, *4.5 apg
SG: Levi Stukes (6'1"/205 Jr.) 12.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg
3G: Mike Mercer (6'4"/185 So.) 15.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg
F: Takais Brown (6'8"/250 Jr.) 14.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg
C: Dave Bliss (6'1"/255 Jr.) 4.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg
Billy Humphrey (G), Terrance Woodbury (G-F), Rashaad Singleton (C), Albert Jackson (F-C)