UK vs. Georgia preview


The team cheers and yells after Jarod Polson puts in a lay up in the second half of the UK’s win over Winthrop Dec. 22, 2010. Photo by Britney McIntosh

The basics: Georgia was a trendy pick to contend in the SEC East, with two key players returning in Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie. Thompkins, a 6-foot-9 junior, leads the team with 17.4 ppg and 7.1 rpg. Leslie, a 6-foot-4 junior, averages 13.8 ppg and 7.6 rpg. Georgia has essentially done what they should have in non-conferece (unlike a lot of SEC teams): beat who they were supposed to and lose to who they were supposed to. Georgia has lost twice, to Temple and Notre Dame (in double overtime). Still, that means their signature win was against Georgia Tech, which isn’t much to go on.

The one factor UK coach John Calipari has mentioned more than anything with Georgia is the crowd, which is expected to be a sellout. Calipari referenced how playing UK will be their “Super Bowl,” and opening SEC play with a win would definitely be a statement win for Georgia.

Opponent scouting report: I reached out to the Georgia student newspaper, The Red and Black, for their thoughts about the Bulldogs and the game, since they have watched a lot more Georgia basketball than I have. Here’s what they had to say:

“Teams have zoned Georgia all season, and their best three point shooter from last season (Ricky McPhee) is gone, and they’ve struggled to find someone to replace him. Dustin Ware is a solid perimeter shooter but has struggled with consistency [he’s shooting 39 percent on threes]. I’d look for UK to go zone Saturday, and Georgia utilizes a small backcourt (5-foot-11 and 6-foot-1), so Knight and Lamb should have a major advantage in that area. Although, the new kid (Gerald) Robinson [12.6 ppg, 4.7 apg] is lightning quick and is great off the dribble, but not a great shooter.”– Sports editor Nick Parker

“With the movement of junior Travis Leslie to the two guard spot and the addition of energy guard Gerald Robinson, Georgia has had to readjust its backcourt and learn to create from the perimeter.

But that doesn’t mean the Bulldogs are weak in the paint. Junior forward and SEC Preseason Player of the Year Trey Thompkins leads the team in scoring with 17.4 points per game, which has helped give Georgia the fourth-best field goal percentage in the conference. Defensively, the Bulldogs have struggled with rebounding from a season-wide standpoint, but have found a recent stride, outdueling their last six opponents off the glass. Georgia’s six blocks per game is also fourth-best in the conference, while it ranks fifth in steals with 7.31 per game.” — reporter Mitch Blomert

What they’re good at: Offensive rebounding (grabbing 37.9 percent of available offensive rebounds, and using lots of players to do it rather than one big man dominating the glass), playing slow, blocks.

What they’re not good at: Three-point shooting (making about 30 percent, and only 18 percent of their total points come via threes), free throw shooting (62.2 percent as a team). The vast majority of their points come on two-pointers, so if Georgia happens to unexpectedly hit threes, it would be a huge bonus.

The stats: Ken Pomeroy has Georgia with a 17 percent chance of winning the game.

The four factors show UK with a lead in three categories and close in the fourth: