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It’s a Dawg & Cat Fight: A Huge Conference Opener Tonight vs. Kentucky

We haven’t beaten the Wildcats since 2011. Is tonight the night?

NCAA Basketball: Georgia at Memphis Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

I really wish I could be at Stegeman Coliseum tonight. The students are back, and we’ve got something brewing in Athens that doesn’t involve the oblong spheroid in coach Tom Crean’s second season in Athens. Tonight’s baskeball tilt has quite a bit of significance in the here ‘n now; could have much more importance come March.

Your Georgia Bulldogs, fresh off a tremendous upset vs. Memphis on Saturday, welcomes the #14 ranked and SEC preseason-favorite Kentucky Wildcats for a nationally televised 9:00 tip-off on ESPN, with Karl Ravech, Jay Bilas and Marty Smith on the call. Tom Crean’s young ‘Dawgs are beginning to indicate that they aren’t one-dimensional, and might be gelling a bit earlier than expected. Against Memphis, Anthony Edwards was not quite “on” his game, scoring 13 points (but only 4 of 17 from the field) in the Dawgs 65-62 win, but his defense was sound and his teammates picked up the slack. Rayshaun Hammonds 15-point effort led the way with Donald Gresham, Jr. and Sahvir Wheeler contributing 12 and 10 points, respectively. Tonight, I have a feeling that “Ant Man” will be a bit more effective, although he’ll be matched up with Kentucky’s own freshman super-recruit, Tyrese Maxey (13.8 ppg avg). Team-wise, we have to improve our free-throw shooting and tighten up the turnovers. Tonight will be a great indicator of where we really are.

ESPN’s Jay Bilas has Georgia cracking the field of 64 at #60 as of now on the heels of the events over the past weekend. Another top 10 win will do wonders for Georgia’s overall confidence, momentum, BPI, RPI and another other PI’s you want to throw out there. However you slice it, tonight is big for many reasons: A prime-time game on the national stage, NCAA Tourney clout, the SEC opener, and breaking the losing streak to Big Blue. A win tonight would temper what is an incredibly tough beginning to January and Conference play.

Kentucky’s dynamic point-guard and Georgia native, Ashton Hagan, appears ready to play and is the straw that stirs UK’s back court after a lower-ankle injury sidelined him during UK’s win at Missouri on Saturday. Hagans, who was once committed to Georgia, is the only ‘Cat to play in all 13 games, and is averaging 12.9 points/7.3 assists and 2 steals per contest. Kentucky might not be entirely healthy coming into tonight’s game, with a few guys ailing for various reasons. Still, Hagans has an ankle injury and he could be not quite 100%, something certainly to watch out for tonight.

Kentucky and Georgia only common opponent this season is Michigan State. Georgia’s rally came up short in Hawaii, losing 93-85 . Kentucky beat the Spartans back on November 5, 69-62.

If you’re going, be loud.

As Always, GO DAWGS!