Free play for Kentucky at Georgia
The Kentucky Wildcats are always going to be a team with a lot of talent, because John Calipari seems to have his pick of the best in the way of recruits. But with so much turnover, these groups don't always click. But usually he gets them to play like an NCAA Tournament team.
Well, the Big Dance may be a difficult thing for these guys to get to, with eight losses in their first twelve games. They try to claw back toward the .500 mark as they take on the Georgia Bulldogs in an SEC basketball matchup that begins at 7 PM ET at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, GA.
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KENTUCKY WILDCATS at GEORGIA BULLDOGS, 7 PM ET (SEC Network)
SEC Basketball Odds: Kentucky -3.5, Total 146
This year was like any other for Calipari, who has a number of "fab" freshmen. There are a number of them who are part of the main rotation. Forward Brandon Boston actually played high school with Lebron James' son. Power forward Isaiah Jackson, at 6-10, blocked 7.7 shots per game in his final year of high school. Devin Askew was considered the top point guard prospect in the country by many.
What has happened this year is that Coach Cal has added some transfers to add a little veteran flavor. Oliver Sarr, a seven-foot center, came over from Wake Forest. Interestingly enough, last year,when he was a member fo the Demon Deacons, he had 30 points and 17 rebounds in a dominant outing against Notre Dame in an ACC encounter. This year, during Kentucky's non-conference schedule, he beat up the Irish a bit more, with 22 points and seven rebounds. Damien Mintz, a 6-3 shooting guard, came over from Creighton. Keion Brooks is the only member of this year's team who had scored a basket for Kentucky prior to this season.
Kentucky was very competitive in losses to Kansas (65-62) and Louisville (62-59), which is an indication of their level of talent more than anything else. That was part of a six-game losing streak. But then after a very big effort against Florida (a 76-58 win), which made it look like they were turning the corner, they have lost consecutive games to Alabama and Auburn.
The 'Cats are not a good shooting team - that's all there is to it. They don't out-gun anybody from the outside (29.7% from the arc) and surprisingly for a team with size, they are only 46.7% inside the three-point arc. What they need to get are offensive rebounds and put-backs. And they are 23rd in the nation in Offensive Rebounding Percentage.
You might say Georgia has some momentum, as they just beat Ole Miss 78-74. Normally not a great outside shooting club, they hit nine of 15 from three-point range. Tye Fagan led the way with 19 points. Fagan, a super-sub last year, has become a full-time starter. And coach Tom Crean has a couple of transfers of his own - guard Justin Kier, who was a starter at George Mason, and forward Andrew Garcia, who was an America East all-conference pick at Stony Brook.
In Kentucky's wins, they averaged 78 points per game. In their losses, the average was 62.1. That might indicate they would have an advantage against an up-tempo team like Georgia (8th in the nation in Adjusted Tempo, in fact). But THEY are not used to that kind of tempo. And that's an edge for the Bulldogs. I don't think there's value in laying a price on the road with this "public" team. So we're with Georgia.
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