This is the short-form Adversary Analysis I will do on opponents we have already faced. It's unnecessary to repeat the work I have done before, so what this will do is essentially offer updated stats, note any significant changes in the team since last time, and proceed to the conclusion.
So check out my previous analysis of Georgia here, and the rest follows:
Per Game Averages
Expected starters highlighted, as always.
Billy Humphrey is coming off a suspension for alcohol consumption as a minor. His addition will add significant scoring punch to a team that is coming off a near miss against Tennessee.
No significant change. Billy Humphrey's return off suspension gives the Dawgs an extra weapon they didn't have against UT, but he was available last time we played the Dawgs in Athens.
This has changed significantly. Due to a shortage of personnel, the Dawgs have gone almost exclusively to a tight 2-3 zone instead of Dennis Felton's normal man-to-man. This defense will definitely affect how the Wildcats attack Georgia, since the zone defense will significantly complicate post entry and make offense much harder for Patrick Patterson.
Playing a team who plays zone almost exclusively now will put pressure on our 3-point shooting, which has been very good at times and very questionable at others. But no matter how many we make, it is doubtful that Georgia will abandon the zone, as Felton seems to be committed to it for this year. This will provide an interesting challenge to the Cats, as most of the teams in the SEC employ a zone less than 50% of the time.
Intangibles and injuries:
Kentucky is at home where they have been solid in SEC. The Cats' injury situation is rather better than the last time they played Georgia, and with Meeks able to go some and the overall improvement on defense we have seen (notwithstanding the Vandy game), the Cats should have a solid advantage in this area.
Kentucky wins if:
- Patterson is able to be effective in the zone.
- Ramel Bradley and Joe Crawford make perimeter shots.
- The Cats don't turn the ball over too much.
- They play with good defensive intensity.
- They hold their own with Georgia on the glass.
Georgia wins if:
- They shoot a high percentage from 3.
- Patterson is stymied by the zone.
- Kentucky turns the ball over a lot.
- Kentucky shoots poorly from three.
- The pace gets too high.
Kentucky has a good chance to win this game. This may be the only team in the SEC over which the Cats actually have a depth advantage, as slim as it is. Facing a team that will zone most of the time is worrisome for Kentucky, as they have struggled against changing defenses and particularly zones this year. Kentucky must be patient attacking the zone and get dribble penetration into the lane. Because the zone doesn't assign block-out responsibilities, Kentucky must exploit that and get offensive rebounds. That is one way Patterson can produce that will offset the lack of touches he is likely to see.
Sundiata Gaines is a tough, competitive guard who can score, and we will see how much Joe Crawford's defense has actually improved when those two square off. Gaines can take the ball to the rack as well as shoot it from the perimeter, as he demonstrated against the Volunteers. Billy Humphrey can shoot the ball from anywhere, and if those two get hot from outside, it will spell trouble for the Wildcats. Kentucky's defensive intensity must be very high, and getting a good start is critical if the Cats are to hold off the Dawgs in Rupp Arena.
I would love to see a rowdy crowd at Rupp tonight, but I don't expect to. The Cats will be favored in this one, and Rupp denizens have had a tendency to sit on their hands against foes like this. I sure hope they prove me wrong, because this Georgia team is more than capable of upsetting Kentucky. If the Cats play to their full capabilities, this game should not be one of the struggles we have faced recently. But I wouldn't count on that -- this Kentucky team has not really proven that they can get or keep a big lead. Look for another grind-it-out game, but I think the Cats will prevail.