Tonight is Senior Night for the Kentucky Wildcats, and they welcome the Georgia Bulldogs into Rupp Arena to celebrate that auspicious occasion with an SEC East basketball game.
We'll have some updated statistics for the 'Dawgs after the jump, but please review our earlier game preview of Georgia for most of the relevant details of this contest, including the relative strengths and weaknesses of each team. I won't rehash them here, it's merely duplicative.
Since the last time we challenged the Bulldogs down in Athens, the Red Clay Hounds have gone 3-5 against SEC competition, although the 'Dawgs were the architect of the current 2-game slide by Florida that could well go to three games if the Gators don't pull and upset on these same Wildcats down in Gainesville on Sunday.
For the Bulldog take on this game, check out our SB Nation brethren over at Dawg Sports, or better yet, just watch T. Kyle King's preview of the game on their new YouTube Channel right here. While you are perusing YouTube, be sure and check out SB Nation's brandy-new, shiny and fancy YouTube channel and hit the "subscribe" button while you're at it. A Sea of Blue doesn't have one yet, but we may develop one some time in the future.
Georgia as a team is not without skilled players. Gerald Robinson has been a solid combo guard for the Bulldogs in a similar role with Dustin Ware as Doron Lamb and Marquis Teague. Robinson is a penetrator and slasher who can do a lot of damage inside and occasionally outside, and he has been on a tear lately. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope represents the only consistent perimeter shooting Georgia possesses, and his consistency isn't all that great at 32.3%, but he has a terrific stroke and is an excellent athlete. He is one of the few 'Dawgs who can get his own shot when the clock is winding down.
No injuries reported for either team
Georgia this year is a severely scoring-challenged team, and their youth is a big reason why. They are neither an efficient offensive nor defensive team, but when they win, it's generally because they have an offensive explosion. Against the Arkansas Razorbacks several games back, the Bulldogs went nuts offensively with an efficiency of 1.32 points/possession, a very impressive number. Against Florida, it was less about the Bulldogs than the Gators utter ineptitude, managing only a .96 points/possession efficiency against a Georgia defense that allows over 1.04 points/possession in league play.
The 'Dawgs are simply loathsome at keeping opponents off the line, allowing 48.4% free throw attempts/field goal attempt, and that truly bodes ill for them tonight, because Kentucky is very efficient from the free throw line. Georgia also has the second-worst shooting percentage in the league from 2-point range, and they are going up against a Kentucky team that leads the country in 2-point percentage defense. Talk about weakness pitted against strength.
The only statistic where Georgia is actually better than Kentucky is forcing turnovers, which they do at a pretty decent 11.1% clip, but in every other way, the 'Dawgs look completely uncompetitive against Kentucky based on past performance.
But this Georgia team is playing better right now than they were earlier in the season, and every so often, they are capable of putting up some competitive numbers offensively. Kentucky has been due for a letdown for quite a while now, and if memory serves me, the Bulldogs did spoil Kentucky's Senior Night back in 2009, the last time they were in town for the affair.
But with all that said, I'd be very surprised if the 'Dawgs were able to make the home game finale of Darius Miller and Eloy Vargas a bitter memory. The Wildcats simply have too much horsepower, and nobody on their team can match up against the tandem of Anthony Davis, Terrence Jones, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, not to mention Miller, who is everyone's matchup nightmare. Kenpom.com has the probability of an upset in this game at 3%, and I'd say that's maybe a touch low, but only a little. I give the 'Dawgs a 10% chance at best.