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Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: Analyzing Kentucky's Escape at Georgia

Kentucky got a tough win against a wounded Georgia team. Here's what went well, and what didn't.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve been doing these bits of analysis in the comments lately, but because this one became kind of long, I thought I’d just make it a regular article. I guess we can never really have too many of those.

This was one of those wins you forget later in the season, but it shouldn’t be. Kentucky didn’t bring their A-game into Athens, but then Yante Maten went down to injury under three minutes into the game. You’d think that would be a big advantage for Kentucky, and perhaps it was after all, but you wouldn’t think that if you watched the game.

Anyway, here’s my analysis, for what it’s worth:

The good and great

  • Out-freaking-standing rebounding. Yes, I know Georgia was down their best player and rebounder, and that mattered. But Kentucky got 93% of available defensive rebounds. For emphasis: Ninety Three Percent. That’s staggeringly good. Georgia got two (2!) offensive rebounds.

  • Offensive rebounding was also excellent at 37%.

  • 82% from the line on 28 free throws is a big reason Kentucky won. There were a lot of fouls in this game and it was close all the way. A 67% performance would’ve lost us the game.

  • Half UK’s baskets were assisted. That’s a good number.

  • When UK needed a basket, they got one. This was one of those grind-it-out games that UK has to find ways to win. They did.

  • All the senior rotation players were huge factors. Mulder, Hawkins and Willis combined for 25 points and 14 rebounds. That’s one of the best bench performances of the year for UK.

The bad and not-so-good

  • Team energy was low early and had a hard time ramping up, allowing Georgia to get an early good feeling that stuck with them, amplified by Frazier’s 1st half buzzer-beating three.

  • Early cold shooting continues to be a problem more often than not for Kentucky.

  • Kentucky allowed Georgia to shoot 62% from 2-point range. That’s some serious non-defense there. Pick and roll situations killed us, as they have all year.

  • Wenyan Gabriel has hit his sophomore slump in his freshman year, it seems.

  • De’Aaron Fox really struggled shooting the ball. 4-12, most of them from inside the arc, is pretty loathsome.

  • Malik Monk struggled shooting also, but made his free throws and got himself to the line a lot. We need for him to do more of that.

  • Isaiah Briscoe returned to his funk, and got very, very frustrated with himself. That wrestling move he pulled could’ve gotten him ejected.

  • Turnovers were at 19%. That’s not awful, but it’s not good and pushing the margin of "bad."

  • The whistle was markedly against us, and a lot of obvious fouls against UK’s players went uncalled. Welcome to the SEC road, I guess. We did get a couple of calls we maybe shouldn’t have, so we’ll have to give credit for that.

I had a feeling the ‘Cats would struggle in this game. I had no idea we would struggle with a team that lost its best player in the first three minutes, but that just proves that Georgia has more talent than people give them credit for. Several of their guys stepped up big, particularly Mike Edwards, who normally plays only 45% of available minutes, and William Jackson.

Player(s) of the game: UK’s seniors. Derick Willis, Mychal Mulder and Dominique Hawkins collectively get my nod, for what it’s worth. Without their total production, this game is a loss.