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Kentucky Ends Three Game Slide
By Defeating Georgia For Second Time This Season
By
TheProfessor

Game Preview:

Last month, the Kentucky Wildcats took to the road, specifically to Athens , Georgia , with a 3 game losing streak secured to their backs. Their goal was simple: To get a win, any win really, because 3 game losing streaks are anathema to Kentucky basketball tradition and history, and the mere thought of 4 in a row, entering the L column was frightful. UK left Athens with that wi and impressive 14-point, 69-55 win, and UK set its course on an ultimate 5 game winning spree that included two more victories while traveling around the south.

This week, the Georgia Bulldogs bring their game to Rupp Arena, looking to make a statement in their own right. Not that Georgia has been deficient in making statements on the hardwood lately. Georgia enters the game having won 2 of their last 3 games which required them to elevate their play, and they did. Georgia defeated Alabama in Athens and defeated Vanderbilt in Nashville . Georgia 's only loss came at the hands of conference leading Tennessee on Saturday, in Athens , by only 5 points.

While Georgia wants to make another statement, UK is again reeling from a second 3-game losing streak and seeks a win, any win really, over this excited Georgia team. This time, the Cats need not strap that losing streak on their backs and travel, but that baggage is secured to their backs nonetheless. If UK ends its losing streak again at the expense of Georgia , UK will move to 6-5 in the SEC East while Georgia will fall to only 4-7 despite their recent success. Alternatively, if Georgia succeeds and makes a statement, it will be a screamer because Georgia will leave Rupp at 5-6, tied with the Cats for 4 th in the SEC East, with a more favorable finishing schedule.

The absolute values of each teams' offensive and defensive efficiencies are remarkably similar, and each team has incurred 9 losses on the season. Georgia is very slightly more effective defensively [0.842 ppp v. 0.859 ppp] and UK is a slightly stronger offensive team [0.879 ppp v. 0.863 ppp]. UK has averaged 80 possessions per game, while holding its opponents to only 77 possessions per game due to a +3 average offensive rebounding margin per game. Georgia averages 85 possessions per game this season, and Georgia 's opponents average 84 possessions per game. These teams should play today's game in the lower 80s pace.

Georgia currently has a Net Game Efficiency for the year of 0.021 ppp while UK 's current NGE stands at an anemic, season low 0.020 ppp. Kentucky has played a stronger schedule than Georgia to this point of the season [0.5871 v 0.5493].

The Pros in Vegas say Vandy will complete the season sweep over the Wildcats today by 3 ½ points, 69-66. The Net Game Efficiency analysis, adjusted for schedule strength and venue suggests a UK win over Georgia , 75-66.

These last three losses ended Kentucky 's season high five game winning streak. With only 6 games remaining, and most of these games either on the road against tough opponents or at home against Tennessee , UK must secure precious wins whenever possible, and this mid-week meeting with Georgia at Rupp is one of those games. To defeat the Bulldogs, UK must perform above their average on offense [at least 0.90 ppp] and the defense must hold Georgia 's offensive efficiency at the NCAA D1 average or below.

The First Half: [Missed First Half]

UK scored its 28 points on only 39 possessions [0.718 ppp] and Georgia scored its 25 points on 38 possessions, 0.658 points per possession for the half.

Of UK's 39 first half possessions, 7 came by virtue of its offensive rebounding that produced 16 second chance points. Georgia earned 7 bonus possessions created by its offensive rebounding that produced 6-second chance points.

Georgia made 3 of its 5 free throw attempts [60.0%] while UK failed to make either of its opportunities from the line in the first half. Kentucky out rebounded Georgia in the first half, but the battle of the offensive boards was a draw, 7-7. The field goal shooting was solid for UK but not for Georgia today. From inside the arc, Georgia shot a poor 5-18 and an average 4-12 from beyond the arc [33.3%]. Kentucky was 11-16 inside the arc and an anemic 2-11 from outside the arc. The game pace is equivalent to 78 possessions for UK and 76 possessions for Vanderbilt .

MAGIC NUMBER

Today: the first team to score its 55 th point will win this game. UK needs to score 27 more points in the second half to reach this level before Vanderbilt can score 30 points in this race to 55 points. Kentucky scored its 55 th point with 7 minutes to play, and Kentucky coasted home for a victory 68-61 final victory.

The Second Half: [Missed Game]

The Outcome:

Kentucky dominated the boards over Georgia tonight, 46-26, and UK won the battle of the offensive boards 16-11. Georgia grabbed a weak 26.8% of its misses as offensive rebounds while UK grabbed an amazingly high 51.6% of its misses. UK scored 68 points on its 89 possessions [0.764 ppp] while Georgia scored its 61 points using a total of 83 possessions [0.735 ppp]. Kentucky committed an astounding 26 turnovers to Georgia 's 14 for the game.

Kentucky had 73 first chance possessions in which they scored 46 points, 0.630 ppp while they scored 22 points on their 16-second chance possessions, 1.375 ppp. Georgia had 72 first chance possessions on which they scored 53 points, 0.736 ppp while they scored 8 second chance points on their 11 second chance possessions, 0.727 ppp.

Tonight UK shot the ball better than their season average from the field for the game. From the field, UK shot 59.0% [23-39] inside the arc, and a poor 6-19 from beyond the arc [31.6%] for a combined shooting percentage of 50.0%. The Free throw shooting was poor in terms of percentage and the number of opportunities was low, 4-11 [36.4%]. Georgia shot below their season average from the field today. From inside the arc, Georgia hit 35.9% [14-39] and from long range, Vanderbilt hit 33.3% [8-24]. Georgia 's free throw shooting was fair 9-13 [69.2%]. Kentucky committed one turnover for every 3.4 possessions while forcing a turnover in every 5.9 possessions. Last year, in comparison, these turnover rates were 6.2 and 4.6 respectively for the season.

I predicted a Kentucky victory over Georgia today, 74-66. The predicted v. actual offensive efficiencies were 0.905 and 0.764 ppp respectively, and the predicted v. actual defensive efficiencies were 0.815 and 0.735 ppp respectively.

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Copyright 2006 Richard Cheeks
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