Coming off a statement road win on Saturday against the previous No. 9 Memphis Tigers, the Georgia Bulldogs (10-3, 0-0 SEC) return to the court Tuesday night to face the No. 14 Kentucky Wildcats (10-3, (1-0 SEC) at 9 p.m. in Stegeman Coliseum.
The victory over Memphis was the Bulldogs’ first road win over a top-10 team since defeating No. 10 Kentucky on Jan. 17, 2004 and the first road win over a ranked, non-conference foe since topping No. 7 Louisville on Dec. 28, 1977.
Georgia will christen their SEC schedule in front of a sellout crowd Tuesday night on ESPN.
Freshman Anthony Edwards and junior Rayshaun Hammonds are leading the Bulldogs. Edwards, a preseason All-American and leading candidate for National Freshman of the Year accolades, paces Georgia in scoring 18.4 ppg, which ranks No. 3 in the SEC. Hammonds is the league’s third-leading rebounder at 9.1 RPG and also ranks No. 15 in scoring at 14.1 ppg.
Kentucky is coming into the game with a win over Missouri in their league opener last Saturday. This upcoming game against Georgia will be Kentucky’s first true road test of the 2019-2020 season.
Wildcats’ freshman guard Tyrese Maxey is leading the team in scoring averaging 13.8 ppg, and sophomore Ashton Hagans is second in putting up an average of 12.9 ppg.
Hagans, once a Georgia commit, will play his second game in Stegeman Coliseum. Last year, Hagans led the Wildcats with 23 points as they thumped the Bulldogs, 69-49.
Georgia head coach Tom Crean spoke with the media on Monday and talked about how the importance of a win against a team like Memphis prepares his team for other ranked teams like Kentucky.
“It’s important to build on what a win like that does for the team, spirit-wise,” said Crean. “We know we’re playing an extremely tough team— there’s no doubt about that. There are similarities [between Memphis and Kentucky]. There’s tremendous athleticism. There’s a great burst, and they play both ends. Memphis was getting 30 percent of their points in transition; Kentucky is getting 32 percent of their points in transition. The difference right now is the physicality. Kentucky is a tremendously physical, aggressive team.”
Against Memphis, Edwards scored 13 points but was 4-of-17 shooting (23.5%). But Edwards impacted the game in other ways than scoring as he had five rebounds and four assists.
“With any young player, and especially one as good as him, I’ve said this before and again this is all a part of the process, don’t predetermine,” said Crean on Edwards. “We’re trying to get him to understand don’t predetermine the game. Maybe I shouldn’t say the game, don’t predetermine the play. What we want him to do is play with his eyes up more. To be ready for the catch and shoot more. When he puts it down, what he’s so unique at, he can go both ways with the ball. Very rarely can somebody that age go equally that well right or left with the ball. So a lot of times when you have that kind of weaponry inside of your game you have to take advantage of it.
Again, it’s just getting him to read the game, understanding how much more efficient he is when he attacks. I thought he made some tremendous passes the other day. More and more people are commenting about the pass and that’s one of his strengths and I think he enjoys it. What we want him to continue to understand is, like I said, don’t predetermine an offense, get on that glass both ways and keep being the stellar defender that he can become for multiple times in possession. Not just one or two times in a possession, but multiple times in a possession because he’s certainly capable of that.”
Another freshman, Sahvir Wheeler, made a huge impact in the game on Saturday as he came off the bench scoring 10 points for the Bulldogs., but also grabbing three rebounds with seven assists.
Wheeler said Monday that Crean has been challenging them more in practice as their schedule starts to heat up.
“Saturday was great. Confidence. It is a big confidence builder. It is a big win and a big program win. I don’t think we have had a win like that in a couple of years. It was just a really big win for us and we are looking forward to keeping that rolling into the game tomorrow against Kentucky.”
Georgia takes on Kentucky tomorrow night at 9 p.m. at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens.
Here is the video from Tom Crean’s Monday presser: