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Know Your Enemy: Georgia Bulldogs

The Bulldogs have given Kentucky fits twice this season but will the third time be the charm? Will Kentucky step up their game as the second season starts?

NCAA Basketball: SEC Tournament-Georgia vs Tennessee Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

The Kentucky Wildcats start their second season in the SEC Tournament against a team that gave them fits twice already this season.

If not a for a few breaks, the Georgia Bulldogs very well could have swept Kentucky. In both games, the Bulldogs jumped on the Wildcats early, and Kentucky needed late heroics to survive.

At Rupp Arena, Georgia jumped out to a 12-0 lead, and Kentucky needed a Malik Monk miracle to send the game into overtime. The Wildcats pulled away in the extra period for a 90-81 win.

The Bulldogs hung with Kentucky the whole game in the Athens rematch and actually led with a minute left, but the late heroics of De'Aaron Fox saved Kentucky as the Wildcats pulled away in the last minute for an 82-77 win.

The Bulldogs are fighting for a NCAA berth. A win over Kentucky would be their 20th win, and you can argue a marquee win like this should be enough to propel Georgia into the NCAA. I say should. The Bulldogs have been a pesky team all season, but they have played the "close but no cigar" game against the best teams on their schedule.

If they miss the tournament, it will be because of their 1-8 record against top 50 teams. Beating Kentucky will help their resume, but that 2-8 mark against Top 50 teams is still pretty ugly.

Regardless, it is now officially March Madness, and you can bet the Bulldogs will give Kentucky all they want to extend their season. Let's meet the Bulldogs.

PROBABLE STARTERS (stats as of 3/8)

#30 G - JJ FRAZIER (SR 5'10, 155) 18.7 PPG, 4.2 APG, 3.5 RPG
#3 G - JUWAN PARKER (JR 6'4, 205) 9.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.9 APG
#13 F - E'TORRION WILRIDGE (SO 6'6, 220) 1.9 PPG, 1.3 RPG, 1.1 APG
#34 F - DEREK OGBEIDE (SO 6'8, 245) 7.4 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 0.7 APG
#1 F - YANTE MATEN (JR 6'8, 240) 18.7 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 1.6 APG

Forget the fact that JJ Frazier is shooting a career-low three-point percentage of 31.6% for the year. He has had two big games against Kentucky and will be the key to this game. He had 59 points in the two games and has been on fire down the stretch, averaging 26.4 over his last eight games. Juwan Parker rebounds well but has been an inconsistent scorer all season. He had just 14 points in the two games against Kentucky and is not an accurate shooter as he hits just 16.0% of his three-pointers and 37.7% overall.

E'Torrion Wilridge has been starting, but it was hard to find him on the court in the two games versus Kentucky. In 49 minutes, he had 2 points and 4 rebounds. He hits 46.2% from the field but has taken just 39 shots on the season 23 of those have been three-pointers, and he hits just 30,95 of them.

Derek Ogbeide is a solid rebounder and played well against Kentucky, especially at Rupp. He had 18 points and 13 boards. He had just 4 points in the rebound but grabbed 11 boards. He is also solid defensively with 1.3 blocks a game. He is an effective shooter inside (56.2%) but has limited range. Yante Maten is making a strong argument for the NBA Draft right now as he is one of the top big men in the SEC, if not the country. He hits 52.6% of his shots overall and has added a three-pointer to his arsenal, hitting 47.5% of his treys. He had a big game at Rupp with 22 points and 5 rebounds. He was injured early in the rematch, and that caused him to miss almost five full games. He may come off the bench today like he did versus Tennessee but he appears to be fully healthy. Maten also averages 1.5 blocks a game.


#2 G - JORDAN HARRIS (FR 6'4, 185) 4.8 PPG, 1.6 APG, 1.4 RPG
#0 G - WILLIAM JACKSON (SO 6'4, 185) 3.5 PPG, 1.1 APG, 1.0 RPG
#32 F - MIKE EDWARDS (SO 6'9, 225) 4.3 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 0.2 APG
#5 F - PAPE DIATTA (JR 6'7, 220) 2.6 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 0.6 APG

Freshman Jordan Harris has been inconsistent lately, partly in due to an injury. He scored 9 points at Rupp Arena but missed the Athens encounter. He is a former four-star commitment that can play either guard position, but he has been slumping as of late. He is a good three-point shooter hitting 45.8%. He has just 5 points in his last three games and has played just 19 minutes. William Jackson also has several starts on the season, and the former four-star guard has been playing more consistently. He is not a great shooter and hits just 35.5% of hit shots and 34.8% of his three-pointers.

Mike Edwards has been playing better lately and adds some rebounding and muscle from the bench. He hits 53.2% of his shots but does not have great range. He played well at Athens with 10 points. Pape Diatta had one of his better games at Athens against Kentucky with 9 points in 11 minutes.


I am a little different from most Kentucky fans when it comes to the NCAA Tournament in that I do not mind the loss heading into the NCAA Tournament. And of now, Kentucky is on an eight-game winning streak, which is their longest since the 38-0 team. Let's keep in mind that the 2012 title team lost in the SEC Tournament as well. My theory is that if a team has a garbage game to get out of their system, the SEC tournament is the place to do it.

But does this team need a loss?

I don't think so. I love the fact that this team can come from behind to win a game and they know how to win a tight game. They have proven that. Now, they need to prove they can play a forty minute game and Georgia would be the perfect time to put my fears to rest.

The key for Kentucky is controlling the inside/outside game of Frazier and Manten. Frazier has terrorized the Wildcats this season, but in the end, you can let him get his points and still beat the Bulldogs. This should not be a close game, yet the Wildcats have been outplayed in both meetings. So I get why Wildcat fans are concerned.

While Kentucky does not need to win the SEC Tournament, the do need this game to lock up a two seed. If they lose, they are in danger of falling back to a three, and that is what they want to avoid. Georgia is a team that does a lot of things well, but they really do not have an advantage at any position over Kentucky.

Kentucky comes into this game fresher, and this is a team that has played well on the big stage, even though they have some close losses to the other ranked teams. Kentucky needs to make a statement they are ready for that 40-minute game, and it starts here. I'm optimistic this is the game they start to put it together and lock up that #2 seed with an 85-71 win.