Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, and welcome to the Tuesday Morning Quickies.
Tonight, Kentucky travels to Athens, Georgia to face the Bulldogs in basketball. The big worry about this game (other than the routine freakout of the Big Blue Nation before any road game) is Ashton Hagans, who tweaked his ankle against the Missouri Tigers on Saturday. He is expected to play, but it’s hard to imagine he’ll be 100 percent. Johnny Juzang, however, is expected to still be out with an illness, leaving Kentucky’s guard depth potentially very thin if Hagans can’t go.
A quick look at Georgia’s advanced stats reveals a team that is strong defensively, but somewhat offensively challenged. Georgia so far has been better than Kentucky in holding down the other team, but significantly worse at putting the ball in the basket.
Georgia is one of those teams who is not great at anything, but pretty good at everything. Their worst problems appears to be turnovers, getting to the line, and making 3-point shots. The Dawgs are shooting only 31.3% from the arc — better than Kentucky’s anemic 29%, but still unimpressive.
The Bulldogs have also struggled to shoot the ball from the line on the rare occasions they do get there, which gives UK an edge if they can draw fouls and do what they normally do. The big difficulty will be handling Georgia’s back court, where they have one of the premiere players in the nation, Anthony Edwards (not the actor), at the two, and a solid point guard in Sahvir Wheeler to distribute the ball. It’s a knotty problem, given Kentucky’s questionable guard health.
For this game, we desperately need to see better play out of three guys — EJ Montgomery, Kahlil Whitney, and Keion Brooks. These guys have been near-invisible lately, and our first SEC road game would be a great time for them to step up and contribute.
Notable victories for Georgia: A four-point win over rival Georgia Tech, an overtime win versus SMU, and a 65-62 win Saturday over then #9 Memphis in the FedEx Forum.
Notable losses: a beat-down by Dayton in Lahina, HI, a convincing loss to Michigan St. also in Maui, and a 20-point road drubbing by Arizona State.
Kenpom pick: Kentucky 72-69.
Tweet of the Morning
Still no Vegas point spread for UK-Georgia game Tuesday night in Athens. Guessing Vegas oddsmakers are as concerned about Ashton Hagans’ availability as BBN fans are. Sagarin Ratings has UK a 1.5-pts favorite when home court is factored in, but that doesn’t factor Hagans’ status.— Oscar Combs (@wildcatnews) January 7, 2020
I bet the #UGA student section is ready to give Ashton Hagans absolute hell again tomorrow night when Georgia takes on Kentucky.— Lance McCurley (@lancemccurley) January 6, 2020
Food for motivation for Hagans.
- Kentucky gets a Christmas gift: Two of its best linemen, one offensive and one defensive, will be returning next season instead of opting for the NFL.
- Wildcats considered the team to beat for two top 5 players in 2021.
- Hagans still considered “day to day,” but word is he’s playing in Athens.
- Tough tickets are rare for basketball in Athens.
First night back for students at Georgia and game has been sold out since October according to Tom Crean on Twitter.— Oscar Combs (@wildcatnews) January 7, 2020
- In case you have a Herald-Leader subscription:
NEW: Kennedy Chandler is the only uncommitted point guard in the country with a UK scholarship offer. And he has some interesting ties to John Calipari https://t.co/QFIEpczKXO— Ben Roberts (@BenRobertsHL) January 7, 2020
- Coming into his own: Immanuel Quickley indispensable as the ‘Cats hit the road.
Other Kentucky sports
- Forbes article on former UK soccer player Erica Simon, as she tries to make her mark in the business world.
- Rhyne Howard named National Player of the Week. Well earned after that Tennessee game on the road.
- Analysis: True.
Tua Tagovailoa is one of the best college quarterbacks I've ever seen and he should run screaming to the NFL and never look back so good on him— BUM CHILLUPS (@edsbs) January 6, 2020
- Analysis: True.
Tell you what, if you’re looking for a sign of how the zeitgeist of CBB has changed, look no further than Duke not winning an ACC title since 2010! They’ve been to 5 Elite Eights & 2 Final Fours in that same span. Different landscape and objectives out there. https://t.co/9NOBseZNcu— Mark Schipper (@MyTimesProse) January 6, 2020
- Speaking of Duke, Wendell Moore, one of their star freshmen, is out indefinitely with a hand injury. Sounds similar to what temporarily sidelined Nate Sestina.
Other sports news
- First potentially habitable Earth-sized planet discovered by TESS mission, and in terms of interstellar distances, it’s a next-door neighbor.
- Grav waves!
- Astronomers find a Galaxy of Unusual Size (G.O.U.S). Kudos to Forbes for The Princess Bride reference.