Georgia (15-11, 6-7 SEC) took #13 Kentucky to overtime in Rupp Arena on January 31st before (stop me if you’ve heard this one before . . .) losing a heartbreaker. They look to avenge that defeat and shore up their resume for an NIT bid when the ‘Dawgs tip off against the Wildcats tonight at 6:00 back home in Stegeman Coliseum (TV: ESPN, radio: Bulldog Radio Network).
Georgia has beaten Kentucky only twice since John Calipari took over the ‘Cats. Both have been in Athens. When Georgia took Kentucky the distance in Lexington last month they did a couple of very important things they’ll also need to do tonight if they want to tame the Wildcats. For one, they forced 14 Wildcat turnovers, above the Wildcats season average (and the 12.2/game average the Hoop Hounds have forced this season). They also got a phenomenal game from sophomore Derek Ogbeide, whose 18 points and 13 rebounds against Kentucky were both career highs. Ogbeide’s 7.27 rebounds per game now leads the team.
It also wouldn’t hurt for the Bulldogs to stay out of foul trouble down the stretch and to avoid bad turnovers, two failings that have dogged them in recent conference losses. It would also help to contain Kentucky’s Malik Monk, who went absolutely out of his mind late in that January game, finishing with 37 points on the night. But containing Monk is easier said than done- he’s gone for 20 points or more in 15 of Kentucky’s 26 games this season.
Barring a stretch run for the ages, Georgia played itself out of tournament contention over the past month. But a win at home against a quality opponent like Kentucky would go a long way to assuring Bulldog fans that this season which began with such high expectations isn’t a total loss. Until later . . .