UK vs. Georgia – Preview
Posted by ibleedblue040 on February 18, 2008
The last time these two teams squared off Kentucky had just a 9-9 record and came into Athens already battered and bruised, when they left they might as well been a walking hospital. On Feburary 2nd UK traveled to Athens, Georgia and got a very much needed road victory over a club that had been a perfect 10-0 prior to the game. UK showed a lot of grit in that game, overcoming a hard foul by Dave Bliss on Ramel Bradley that sent Bradley to the locker room for the rest of the game with a concussion, winning 63-58. This time around UK is in a different situation, they have won 6 of 7 games and have won 3 in a row at Rupp Arena. Ramel Bradley is 100% healthy and should play with the thoughts of the last meeting on his mind as he steps on the court to face the Bulldogs. Kentucky has played very well at home as of late and will be the pre game favorite to win the game. Georgia has been very tough to shake the last few games, they lost to a very good Tennessee team by only 3 points in their last game, again being led by senior guard Sundiata Gaines, who torched the ‘Cats for 15 points in the earlier meeting. Georgia will not get blown out by the Wildcats, if in fact Kentucky wins, so UK better come into the game knowing this and play smart basketball for 40 minutes.
KEYS TO THE GAME
I said in the first meeting that UK had to: Contain Sundiata Gaines, force turnovers, and drive the lane and create free-throw oppurtunities for themselves. In that matchup UK only completed one of the KEYS but still managed to pull out the win, this time around two of the KEYS TO THE GAME will be the same. The first KEY TO THE GAME will again be to slow down Sundiata Gaines. I do not believe that we can fully stop him but I think if we play smart against him we will be able to make him basically a non factor. Gaines a lot of times lives and dies by the three-point shot so some of the task falls on him missing shots. In the first meeting Michael Porter got the responsibility of guarding Gaines and it did not work out too well. Porter though does not play as many minutes now as he did then so I would suspect that Ramel Bradley will be the one guarding him and Bradley is the team’s best defender when he puts his mind to it. When Kentucky went up against Tennessee earlier this season it was Bradley who stepped up in the second half and guarded Chris Lofton and basically made him a non factor until the final minute.
The second KEY TO THE GAME that is the same is Kentucky needs to force turnovers for some easy buckets. Kentucky gets stuck in their half court offense too much and that leads to empty possessions when you do not have a guy that can take his man to the hole any time he wants. Forcing turnovers gets you easy points and Kentucky needs all the points they can get. The last time these teams met UK only forced 7 turnovers and only scored 11 points off those turnovers. Kentucky has trouble forcing turnovers and making them count by scoring on the other end, the ‘Cats need to find a way to score off turnovers and that will make the game a lot easier for them and it will make it much easier to win.
The third KEY TO THE GAME is for UK to feed Patrick Patterson the ball! Patterson seems to get less and less touches each game and I have no idea why because he is our most efficient scorer. Patterson is shooting near 60% on the year, much better than anyone else on the team, so if we can find ways to get Patterson the ball I do not see any reason why we should not win because almost every time he gets the ball in a scoring position he scores. Even though Patterson will be double teamed there will still be ways to get him the ball, for example in the last game against LSU the Tigers were double teaming Patterson and fronting him in the post, all we had to do was lob the ball and Patterson got two easy alleyoops. By getting Patterson the ball it also opens up scoring oppurtunities for the other players because Patterson is double teamed and all eyes will be on him so if he makes a strong pass to anyone on the court they should be open for a shot.
My prediciton for tomorrow’s game at home against the Georgia Bulldogs is that UK wins by a score of 62-55. I believe that Billy Gillispie will wisely put Ramel Bradley on Sundiata Gaines and I believe Gaines will not be a very big factor. As long as the Wildcats get the ball to Patrick Patterson I think they will be fine because there is no one on the Georgia roster that can guard Patterson one-on-one and almost none of them can double team him effectively. I think Ramel Bradley leads the team in scoring with 21 points and I think Patterson goes for 18 points and 8 rebounds.
Feb. 19 vs. Georgia
9:00 pm EST on ESPN