Georgia shocked the college basketball world on Tuesday night when they knocked off #17 Georgia Tech at home in Athens.
Saturday, the Dawgs begin SEC play with a date in Lexington to take on the undefeated #3 Kentucky Wildcats (where’s Florida Atlantic when you need them?).
These days you can’t watch a segment of ESPN’s Sportscenter without seeing something pertaining to the Cats’ undefeated season , or another gravity-defying dunk by freshman sensation John Wall. Since Kentucky signed renowned coach/rule-breaker John “Calamari” Calipari (he left his last two programs in fraudulent ruins – UMASS & Memphis) the Cats have been at the forefront of college basketball’s media frenzy.
Kentucky super-Frosh John Wall is leading the team in scoring (17.2 points/game) and highlights (5.4/game). What many people don’t realize about Wall is that he is a great passer too, netting 7.3 assists per game. Speaking of “netting”, Mr. Wall is projected to be the first pick in next year’s NBA draft which will most likely send him to the New Jersey Nets…so he better cherish all this winning now cause last I check New Jersey was 3-32.
Kentucky’s frontcourt features two of the better forwards in the SEC in junior Patrick Patterson (16.7 points/8.3 reb) and freshman DeMarcus “Big Cuz” Cousins (15.4 points/9.6 reb). What’s even more impressive about Cousins is that he is producing these numbers in only 19.2 minutes a game…Big Cuz has a little bit of a “foul problem” (don’t worry he is taking an Anger Management class to control his temper) averaging 3.2 personal fouls a contest.
This UK squad is actually the tallest in the country going by average player height. Maybe that’s why Kentucky is 11th in the country in total offensive rebounds, and pulling down nearly 43 total rebounds a night. If the Dawgs defensive rebound as poorly on Saturday as they did against the Yellow Jackets they are going to get run out of the gym (there are actually several other scenarios in which they could get run out of the gym but I am trying to be positive here).
Not to sound like a defeatist, but when analyzing Kentucky it’s really hard to find weaknesses. They are 15th in the nation in offensive scoring at 82.8 points a game, and they are shooting lights out – 50.2% FG; 40.6% 3PT. Their defense has been stingy, surrendering only 64.3 per game.
They are 15-0 despite playing an EXTREMELY difficult schedule already which included games against Stanford, North Carolina, UCONN, Indiana and Louisville.
I am going to mix up the format a bit for this one…instead of “Keys to the Game” I think we will go with “Things That Could Help”.
“Things That Could Help”
1. Get in the Zone – Even though Kentucky is a good shooting team, I still think that UGA needs to play more zone defense than man-to-man and hope that the Cats are cold. The Dawgs just don’t have the personnel to match up with Kentucky in a man defense…as much as I love Ricky McPhee, I would hate to see him trying to guard Wall out on the perimeter. Thompkins could hold his own against Patterson or Big Cuz, but one of these guys would then get a very favorable match up against either Jackson, Barnes or Price.
2. Temper, Temper – As mentioned above, Big Cuz can be somewhat of a hothead and routinely gets into foul trouble. If anyone watched the Louisville-Kentucky game, then you probably saw Cousins give a flagrant elbow to the head of a Louisville player while wrestling for the ball (unfortunately the referees didn’t see it and Cuz stayed in the game). I would love to see Albert Jackson or Chris Barnes get really physical with Cousins from the start, and maybe frustrate him into some cheap fouls.
3. Beyond the Arc – UGA won the game at Rupp Arena last year 90-85 because they were on fire from 3-point range. Georgia made 11 or 16 three point attempts en route to the win (they also shot 50% from the field). I realize that this is a difficult performance to repeat, but when you are playing the #3 team in the country you have to bring your best game. Hopefully McPhee, Ware and Thompkins are on (fingers crossed) or things could derail early (freshman Ebuka Anyaorah has also been shooting the ball well lately averaging nearly 6 points off the bench in his last 3 outings).
The game will tip off at 4pm Saturday in the confines of historic Rupp Arena. It will be televised on the SEC Network (which I believe is Peachtree TV) and on the radio at 750AM.
Any other thoughts?