MBB: Georgia vs. Kentucky Preview

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MBB: Georgia vs. Kentucky Preview

K.D. Johnson
K.D. Johnson

Georgia (8-4, 1-4 SEC) vs. Kentucky (4-8, 3-2 SEC)

Wednesday, January 20, at 7:00 p.m. ET

Stegeman Coliseum (1,638) in Athens, Ga.

Series History: UK leads, 129-26

Last Meeting: UK, 89-79, on 1/21/20

Watch: SEC Network (Mike Morgan play-by-play; Debbie Antonelli, analyst)

Listen: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network Flagship: WSB AM 750 Atlanta; Sirius: 133; XM: 190; Internet: 961 (Scott Howard, play-by-play; Chuck Dowdle, analyst; Adam Gillespie, producer)

The Starting Five

• K.D. Johnson was named SEC Freshman of the Week on Monday, UGA’s third SEC award winner this season following POTW Tye Fagan and Toumani Camara.

• After scoring in double figures once in the first 16 games last season, Toumani has hit double digits in 17 of his last 27 outings including his last 10 this season.

• Sahvir Wheeler’s four point-assist double-doubles in the first nine games equaled the second-best single-season total by any SEC player in the 2000s.

• Eight different Bulldogs have scored in double figures during the 2020-21 season, combining to produce 48 double-digit performances in UGA’s 12 games.

• UGA’s roster features eight newcomers with representative in every class – two freshmen, a sophomore, two juniors and a trio of senior graduate transfers.

The Opening Tip

Georgia opens a two-game homestand on Tuesday when the Bulldogs host Kentucky at Stegeman Coliseum. Georgia also will entertain Florida on Saturday afternoon before returning to the road next week.

The Bulldogs improved to 8-4 overall and 1-4 in SEC play with their victory at Ole Miss last Saturday. Georgia posted season-high shooting percentages from everywhere on the floor – overall (.587), 3-point range (.600) and the free throw line (.882) – en route to the win over the Rebels. 

Georgia remains one of the nation’s most balanced offensive teams, with no less than seven players averaging 9.5 ppg or more. The Bulldogs entered last week as the only D-I men’s hoops program with six players sporting double-figure scoring averages.

Watch a fullscreen slideshow HERE.

Keeping An Eye On . . . Entering Today’s Game: 

Justin Kier is…

• 5 assists from 250 for his career

• 10 rebounds from 600 for his career

Andrew Garcia is…

• 102 points from 1,000 for his career

• 31 rebounds for 500 for his career

Series History With Kentucky

Kentucky owns a 129-26 advantage in the all-time series between the Bulldogs and the Wildcats, including a 44-17 edge in Athens.

The Wildcats swept a pair of meetings in a two-week span last season, winning 78-69 at Stegeman Coliseum on Jan. 7 and then 89-79 at Rupp Arena on Jan. 21.

In Athens, Anthony Edwards’ game-high 23 points was not enough to overcome No. 14 Kentucky before a packed house. The Bulldogs led for 22:49 of the game, nearly 10 minutes more than the Wildcats. 

Georgia used an 8-0 surge to go up 39-31 late in the half before Ashton Hagans’ 3-pointer at the buzzer trimmed that margin to six. A 13-2 run by Kentucky turned a 55-50 lead into a 63-57 deficit and put the Wildcats on top for good.   

In Lexington, Edwards and Rayshaun Hammonds led a quartet of Bulldogs in double digits with 16 points each. The Bulldogs trailed by six, 41-35, at the half. 

Georgia started quickly after the intermission, scoring consecutive buckets in 29 seconds to close the gap to two points and force the Wildcats into a timeout. Kentucky answered with two baskets in 31 seconds to regain its six-point edge.

The Bulldogs pulled within a single possession two more times, lastly at 57-54 at the 12:38 mark before a 12-2 surge by the Cats.

Scouting The Wildcats

Kentucky arrives in Athens with records of 4-8 overall and 3-2 in the SEC. The Wildcats struggled in non-conference play and entered league action with a 1-6 mark. Kentucky reeled off three consecutive victories before setbacks to Alabama and Auburn last week.

Brandon Boston Jr. leads a quartet of Wildcats contributing between 10.0-11.5 ppg. Boston’s 11.5 average is slightly better than Terrence Clarke (10.7 ppg), Olivier Sarr (10.3 ppg) and Keion Brooks Jr. (10.0 ppg.).

Two of those players – Clarke and Brooks – have only played in a portion of Kentucky’s games this season due to injuries.

Brooks saw his initial action in Kentucky’s last three outings after missing the first nine contests while recovering from a calf injury. Clarke has been out of action for Kentucky’s last five games due to an ankle injury. He did not dress out for Saturday’s matchup at Auburn and was wearing a boot.

Bulldogs Shot Hot In Oxford

Georgia posted season-best shooting efforts overall (58.7 percent), on 3-pointers (60.0 percent) and at the line (88.2 percent) in last Saturday’s win at Ole Miss.

Tye Fagan led the way with a 9-of-9 performance from the field. The junior from Logtown became just the 11th player nationally this season to have a perfect night attempting nine or more shots from the floor.

From a historical perspective, Saturday’s field goal percentage was the Bulldogs’ fifth-best in a road outing in the last 25 years as outlined below.

Also, Georgia’s tally from 3-point range was the best ever by an opponent in The Pavilion at Ole Miss, now in its sixth season as the home of the Rebels. The previous mark was 56.3 percent by Middle Tennessee State on Nov. 30, 2016, ironically when the Blue Raiders’ were coached by Kermit Davis.

Best Road FG Pct. In Last 25 years

Rk.          Pct.         Opponent              FG-FGA  Date

1.             .652         at Marshall             30×46      12/18/99

                2.             .635         at Ole Miss             33×52      1/15/11

                3.             .633         at Chattanooga      31×49      12/2/14

                4.             .596         at Florida                 28×47      1/27/10

5.             .587         at Ole Miss            27×46     1/16/21

Fagan Bounces Back

Tye Fagan paced Georgia with 19 points at Ole Miss, with 17 of those coming in the second half. The junior from Logtown and Upson-Lee High School responded well after a season-low two points against Auburn. 

Fagan returned to Georgia’s starting lineup after coming off the bench for the first time versus the Tigers.

“I had a good feeling about him today,” Tom Crean said after the victory. “He wasn’t real good on Wednesday night. None of us were. He’s responded well the past couple of days, and I had a really good feeling to have him in there. He did an even better job than we could have imagined against the zone.”

The first question asked of Fagan following the game involved his motivation.

“Not starting the other day wasn’t necessarily motivation for me,” Fagan stated. “It was the fact that we were 0-4 in conference play. That’s the biggest motivation you need. If you claim to be a winner, losing games should motivate you more than anything. Starting or not starting, none of that matters except for winning. Losing games is what motivates me.”

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