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UK @ Georgia – Preview

Posted by ibleedblue040 on January 31, 2008

Coming into a game with a two game winning streak for the first time since mid November should be reason enough for Kentucky to come into saturday’s game at the Georgia Bulldogs focused and ready to kick some butt. Kentucky has fallen into the lazy habit of playing down, although sometimes up, to their opponents’ skill level and that is unacceptable. Kentucky has only lossed two games by 15 or more so getting blown out by anybody in the Southeastern Conference will be tough but UK has lost numerous games against teams that really do not belong on the same court as the Wildcats and certaintly do not have any business beating them either. Kentucky could easily be coming into the game this Saturday afternoon with at least a record of 13-5 had they beaten the teams that they, on paper, should dominate. If the ‘Cats were 13-5 they would be a top 20 team, thanks to their two top 15 wins, and would be almost a lock for the NCAA tournament. Instead UK is looking at the tourney from the outside just hoping to get close enough to look in and they are one loss away from dropping below .500 on the season.

KEYS TO THE GAME

The first KEY TO THE GAME is simple, pressure the ball and force turnovers. Georgia is the only team in the SEC with a worse assist/turnover ratio than UK and Kentucky must certainly use that to their advantage Saturday. Every player on Georgia’s team except for two average more turnovers per game than assists and that is easily the worst in the league. Only one player for UGA averages more than 1.8 assists per game, so that probably means that the Bulldogs are not good decision makers, expect UK to trap and play some full court defense to try to force UGA to make some stupid mistakes that lead to easy baskets for the ‘Cats.

The second KEY TO THE GAME is also very simple, stop Sundiata Gaines. Gaines tourched the Wildcats last year in Athens during the upset of Kentucky with 19 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists. I have said it in every single game preview this year, that is to stop the best player for the opposing team, you can win without doing it because Kentucky allowed Devan Downey to go off for 25+ the other day in a UK win but it makes is much easier on everyone to single out one player to stop. There is no doubt that UK will win big if Gaines does not play very well because he is only one of two players that average double figures for the ‘Dawgs and he is the engine that makes them run and without him they seemed lost on the court sometimes.

The third and final KEY TO THE GAME is for Kentucky to attack the basket and draw fouls. UK is top 10 in the nation in free throw percentage and every single player on the team shoots well from the line. If Kentucky can get some cheap fouls on the Georgia big men it will make their front line even more weak and will allow Patrick Patterson to have his way down low and allow the UK perimeter players to play more loosely knowing that Patterson will be underneath to clean up any shot that does not go in the basket. Georgia is already 2nd to last in the Southeastern Conference in field-goal percentage and if UK can put the better post player for the Bulldogs on the bench then they will settle for jumpers even more and will only be able to stick around for as long as they consistently hit contested jumpers and three-pointers.

My prediction for the game is that UK pulls out a victory by the score of 80-69, I think the game will be a bigger blowout than the score indicates because I think UK will control the game and be leading for at least most of the game. I think Ramel Bradley sits for a couple minutes throughout the game but I think he still goes for his usual 20 points and racks up 4 assists and 5 rebounds to go along with it. I think Patrick Patterson will bust out of his streak of a few games of no double-doubles by going for 17 points and 12 rebounds. I will bring you the UK/UGA Post Game entry the day after the game, Sunday.

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