Kentucky Wildcats (10-3) at Georgia Bulldogs (10-3)
Game Time: 9 pm EST on Tuesday, January 7th
Location: Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Georgia
TV Channel: Tonight’s game can be viewed on ESPN.
Announcers: Karl Ravech, Jay Bilas and Marty Smith will call tonight’s action.
Radio: Tom Leach and Mike Pratt will have the UK radio network call on 630 AM, 98.1 FM in Lexington, and on the UK Sports Network.
Online Stream: The game can be streamed online using WatchESPN.
Odds: Kentucky opened as a 1.5-point favorite, and the line has since grown to 2.5, a pretty good indicator Ashton Hagans will play. ESPN BPI gives Kentucky a 64.2% chance of victory. KenPom gives them a 59% chance of winning in Athens.
Predictions: KenPom projects a 72-70 win for the Wildcats. TeamRankings predicts Kentucky to win 73-69, while numberFire could not predict a winner, as their projection has the score being 72.7-72.7.
The Wildcats are starting to hit their stride, and they’ll look to continue that Tuesday in Athens when they face Georgia in Athens.
Kentucky enters the game pretty banged up after Ashton Hagans came up limping late in Saturday’s win over Missouri, and Immanuel Quickley needed x-rays on a minor injury on his non-shooting hand, while Johnny Juzang is sidelined with an illness.
All things considered, the prognosis on these players looks promising, as Hagans and Quickley are both expected to play tonight, though it remains to be seen how limited they will be, if at all.
Both players are critical to Kentucky’s success, which was evident Saturday when Quickley put up a career-high 23 points against Missouri in the SEC opener, and even his hand injury did not prevent him from staying above 95% from the free throw line for the season.
Hagans is obviously the heart and soul of this roster, as he routinely shuts down opposing guards while putting his teammates in the best position to succeed, as he’s averaging 8.4 assists in the last 10 games.
Also, many have looked forward to Hagans’ potential matchup with Georgia star Anthony Edwards. Edwards very well may be the most talented player in college basketball. He leads the Bulldogs with 18.4 points per game, and he does so by spending much of the game with the ball in his hands. He takes nearly 25% more shots than anybody else on the Georgia roster, and watching him battle Hagans for 40 minutes would be appointment television, if Hagans is healthy.
Against the two other stars Kentucky has faced, Cassius Winston and Jordan Nwora, the Wildcats have held them in check and come out of each game with a victory. In order to win at Georgia on Tuesday, Kentucky needs to find a way, with or without Hagans, to contain Edwards.
None of the Bulldogs shoot exceptionally well from the outside (famous last words). However, they do battle in the paint. Their leading rebounder is Rayshaun Hammonds, who nearly averages a double-double with 14.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. He is not a big time shot blocker, but he uses his size well and will need to have the full attention of Kentucky’s front court.
It is difficult to know who Georgia really is at this point. Their worst loss is to a strong Dayton team, and their best win is against a Memphis squad without their best player. The Bulldogs have had several close games against lesser competition, but have shown the potential to play well against legitimate top 25 teams.
The game will tip-off at 9 p.m. on Tuesday. Grab your coffee, pray for Hagans, and get comfortable to watch the Cats battle the Dawgs on ESPN.