Kentucky eliminates Georgia from the SEC Tournament (again)

Kentucky’s 62-49 win over Georgia (18-15) marked the 4th time in 5 years that Big Blue Nation has eliminated UGA from the SEC tournament.  Every one of those losses have prevented Georgia from earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.  If an SEC team is on the bubble this time of year in March, a win over the Cats is an easy way to impress the committee. Unfortunately, Coach Mark Fox hasn’t found a way to get that done.  His Georgia teams have never beaten Kentucky away from Athens.  Coach Calipari is the proverbial hump that Fox just cannot seem to get over.

Is this a great Kentucky team that is destined to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament? No.  They only have two players that would be considered dangerous scoring threats: Kevin Knox and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.  They don’t shoot the ball particularly well from the outside (under 35% on triples). However, they are long and athletic, and yesterday, the Cats were determined to play defense for 40 minutes, which turned out to be more than UGA could handle.

Kentucky’s match-up zone gave Georgia fits.  The Cats’ guards enforced their will upon the UGA backcourt, which resulted in Georgia having trouble getting into its sets since the offense was starting so far from the basket. The Dawgs struggled to get the ball inside to their bigs. Even when Yante Maten got touches, he was indecisive with the ball and allowed himself to be swarmed by Wildcat defenders.  Yante was held under double-figures in scoring for just the second time this season as he managed only 9 points in the loss yesterday on a 2 of 10 shooting performance.  Coach Calipari’s defensive scheme of taking away Maten worked so well that it didn’t even matter that his team couldn’t muster much on the offensive end.  UGA shot 28% from the floor and 26% from beyond the arc; the Dawgs chunked up 23 three-point attempts, which is not a good look for this Georgia team.  UGA scored just 12 points in the paint to Kentucky’s 38; the Dawgs couldn’t find success on the block, so they settled for a multitude of perimeter shots. Game over.

The lone bright spot on offense for UGA was Tyree Crump, who snapped out of his recent shooting funk and knocked down 4 of his 8 three-point attempts en route to a career high 17 points.  The other Georgia guards were far less effective: Turtle Jackson (2 for 12), Teshaun Hightower (0 for 6).  If the UGA backcourt could have managed to knock down a few more three’s, it might have forced the Kentucky defense to pay less attention to Maten, but that’s been a running theme for the season.

Ultimately, Georgia is just not built to deal with a team of Kentucky’s caliber.  This UGA team showed a lot of fight the past two days, especially in the second round upset of Missouri, but once again the Dawgs were no match for a more athletic bunch of Wildcats.  UGA’s freshman simply do not resemble Kentucky’s; the Cats’ newbies are at a whole different level.  As long as Calipari reigns supreme in Lexington, Georgia is not going to be able to match up with his teams’ athleticism. The only way UGA ever starts beating Kentucky is if they can get more shooters on the roster, because that is and always has been the great equalizer in college basketball. For some reason, though, the UGA basketball program cannot seem to figure that out.

13 thoughts on “Kentucky eliminates Georgia from the SEC Tournament (again)

  1. Dawgs beat a couple teams in the tourney they had lost to earlier this season, so that’s good. I thought they gave a good effort. Still, have to say, Turtle had a horrible game. He is not a shooter but he has adopted a shooter’s mentality. Keep firing no matter what. One sequence early was just plain awful. Pretty sure it went like this: A Cat play simply grabbed to ball out of Turtles hands and took it in for a layup. To make up for that gaff, Turtle came right back and clanked a long three, then went back down the floor and got beat on defense, capping it all off with a foul. The thing is, Turtle is going to be the Dawgs point guard nest season, alternating with Hightower. Not sure who will play two. Crump for maybe 8 minutes a game? With Maten gone, don’t know where the points are going to come from inside. Maybe Hammonds? If Fox (or his replacement) thought replacing Frazier was tough, wait til they try replacing Maten. Lastly, Calipari is lobbying for Georgia to keep Fox. Of course he is!


    1. I’m willing to bet that turtle Jackson will not be UGA starting point guard next year….turtle I supposed to be playing the minutes that tyree Crump is Playing and vice versa..


      1. Turtle might start because he’s the incumbent, but in crunch time I’d prefer to see Hightower run the point and Crump at shooting guard.


  2. Who’s responsible for getting the talent on the team for the past nine years? We have decent talent, but we are set up to play a plodding offense based off of good defense. We have no plan B. Good coaches can figure that out and stop us.


  3. Sounds like Fox is out. I like the idea of letting Jonas coach the NIT. I want Tom Crean as the new coach and would like to see him keep Jonas on. .


  4. Crean would be ok in my opinion. I’d rather see Motta were he interested in coming here. His OSU teams were always so fundamentally sound in the games I watched them play, and for much of his time there, the Big 10 was arguably the best conference in college basketball. Ultimately, however, I want the guy who can best recruit the Atlanta area and who has the smarts to retain a strong program tie by retaining Jonas Hayes.


    1. I like Crean for his exciting style of play, which would be a great relief after Fox. Matta would be a huge upgrade and I would not complain.


    1. I like the hire, especially when he proclaimed in his first presser that Georgia was going to “shoot the three”. What do you think?


  5. Yeah I like it as well. The offense is going to be a lot more interesting to watch and if Crean can recruit, we should be in the hunt for conference accolades as well as NCAA appearances on a regular basis. Will that ever be nice. We haven’t been relevant every year since the ill-fated short tenure of Jim Harrick when I came to the Steg every night with a strong sense of optimism.


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