Kentucky will enter Rupp Arena on Tuesday night the losers of back-to-back games, an extreme rarity for John Calipari teams. To say they need a win is an understatement.
Luckily for them, they’re in a favorable matchup at home. Kentucky matches up well to the Georgia Bulldogs in almost every aspect of the game. Obviously that’s been said before and not worked out in Kentucky’s favor (see our Tennessee preview), but the game being at home makes all the difference. It seems as though no matter how much Kentucky struggles in a game, if it’s at Rupp, they’re always in it.
But then again, Georgia has some momentum. The Bulldogs just pulled off a huge win over Texas, 59-57, in one of the ugliest basketball games you’ll see. The win helped the SEC to tie the SEC/Big 12 Challenge at 5-5, and it snapped a two-game losing streak for the Bulldogs.
Kentucky will have to worry about Yante Maten, a forward for Georgia that leads the team in both points (19.7) and rebounds (7.7) per game.
Two things to look for on Kentucky’s side: who will emerge as the better power forward, and how well will Malik Monk shoot?
Kentucky was facing a lot of inconsistency from the 4 spot early in the season. After a couple outstanding games, it looked as though Wenyen Gabriel was ready to take command of the starting spot. However, consecutive bad games from him combined with the game against Kansas where Derek Willis went 6/7 from the field for 18 points has opened that spot back up. Which stretch big will emerge victorious in this one?
As for Malik Monk’s shooting, Monk has shot poorly from deep the past couple games, hitting 23% of his 3-pointers against Tennessee, and 33% of his deep shots against Kansas. Monk has been very up and down over the last five games, and a good shooting performance from him would help settle the ‘Cats as they look to tear off a huge run in SEC play.
In the end, this is likely going to be an easy (and much-needed) win for Kentucky. They’re at home, the pressure of a major battle is off, and it’s a great chance for them to get back on the winning side. This should be a good tune-up for Kentucky before they set their sights on the Florida Gators just a number of days after this game.
Here is everything you’ll need to watch and follow this matchup:
Georgia Bulldogs (13-8, 4-4 in SEC) at Kentucky Wildcats (17-4, 7-1 in SEC)
Game Time: 9 p.m. EST on Jan. 31
Location: Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky.
Live Online Stream: Watch ESPN
Radio: UK Radio Network with Tom Leach and Mike Pratt
Odds: UK opened as a 16.5-point favorite over UGA. KenPom projected UK to be a 16.5-point favorite.
Score Prediction: KenPom projects an 85-69 win by Kentucky and gives the Cats an 93-percent chance of winning.