The Wildcats have won 16 of the last 18 meetings between the two teams, but those two losses have come in the last three seasons, including last year’s defeat in Athens, so guys like Antonio Reeves will be looking for a bit of revenge in this one.
Under former Florida head coach Mike White, now in his second season, the Bulldogs have surpassed expectations thus far this season. Picked to finish 12th in the conference, Georgia is 13-4 overall and 3-1 in SEC play, would be 4-0 if it had not been for a late-game collapse against Tennessee.
However, Georgia has played far from a difficult schedule with their best win coming against a Wake Forest team ranked 46th in the NET rankings.
Saying this, all of Georgia’s losses are to teams currently ranked in the top 70 of KenPom. The Dawgs also have yet to lose a true road game, so Kentucky will be looking to change that Saturday evening.
Here’s what you need to watch for in Game 17 for Kentucky Basketball.
Cause havoc with turnovers
Georgia is not necessarily turnover-prone, but in three of their four losses they have had more turnovers than assists.
Fortunately, Kentucky has been good at generating turnovers, forcing their opponent into double-digit turnovers in all but three games this season.
This will be a game Kentucky will look to get into passing lanes for easy looks in transition.
Crash the offensive boards
Shooting nearly 40% from 3 on the year, 11th in the country, this Kentucky team could very well go down as one of the best shooting teams in program history. That said, they have been in a bit of a dry spell of late, shooting above 31 percent from 3 just once in the last four games.
On the other side, Georgia has been one of the nation’s best at defending the 3 this season, allowing opponents to shoot less than 30 percent. Over the season, they have allowed just two of their 17 opponents to shoot over 40 percent.
If the 3s aren’t falling, crashing the offensive boards will be important against a Georgia team that gives up nearly 10 per game, leading to extra opportunities.
Defense continues to show progress
“We told on ourselves. We can defend,” John Calipari said of Kentucky’s effort against Mississippi State, allowing just 29 points in the first half. He did note it wasn’t consistent, and when that is the case, he is not going to accept that from his team and will use the bench.
His message: “Don’t be mad at me, be mad at yourself.”
Against Georgia, Kentucky will be put in a lot of high-ball screens and will need to continue showing improvement in their pick-and-roll defense which they have been focusing on in practice.
Let’s hope the defense keeps improving, because if it does, watch out.
Opposing Players to Watch
G Jabri Abdur-Rahim, 6-8, 215 lbs
- 12.8 PPG
- 4.0 RPG
- 39 3PM (5th in SEC), 41.5% 3P (11th in SEC)
G Noah Tomasson, 6-4, 210 lbs
- 12.4 PPG
- 3.1 RPG
- 1.6 APG
C Russel Tchewa, 7-0, 275 lbs
- 6.6 PPG
- 6.2 RPG (13th in SEC)
- 50.6% FG (7th in SEC)
Date: January 20th, 2024
Time: 6:00 PM ET
TV Channel: SEC Network
Announcers: Mike Morgan and Jon Sundvold
Location: Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center
Radio: Tom Leach and Jack Givens have the UK radio call on the UK Sports Radio Network.
Replay: WatchESPN and the SEC Network (check local listings).
How do you see this one playing out? Let us know in the comments section!
And Go Cats!!