As well all know by now, Kentucky has not played up to the immense expectations that followed their championship season from 2012. Even before their number one recruit Nerlens Noel went down, the team was underachieving. Currently the team is tied for second in the SEC and they still have room to improve their chances for the NCAA tournament.
Unlike years past, the Wildcats will have to make a deep run in their conference tournament in the coming weeks. Kentucky takes on Georgia Thursday night on the road. Games away from Rupp Arena haven’t exactly been Kentucky’s strong suit this season. They haven’t won a game on the road since Feb. 2, when they beat Texas A&M in overtime.
Since that victory, they have gone on to lose three consecutive road games. Those losses include Florida, Tennessee and Arkansas. Now do all of those losses fall into the “bad losses” category? Not necessarily. Florida is leading the SEC and Tennessee has since beaten Texas A&M on the road and upset Florida since their victory over the Wildcats.
Any team at home that is viewed as the underdog should not be overlooked. The Georgia Bulldogs are in the bottom half of the SEC and have no shot at making the big dance this March unless they win their conference tourney. With that being said, the Bulldogs have beaten Tennessee both at home and away. The Vols are a team that crushed the Wildcats by 30 points a few weeks ago.
The Wildcats and Bulldogs are definitely two polar opposite teams when it comes to offense. Kentucky ranks 29th overall in scoring with 75 PPG while the Bulldogs’ defense ranks 314th in the nation at 60 PPG. Since Noel went down, the Wildcats have allowed an average of 73.8 PPG over five games. To add some insight to that statistic, the Wildcats gave up just 62.7 points per game in the 24 games that Noel played in this season. Small sample size or not, that is an 11 point increase due to one person exiting their starting lineup.
Georgia is 0-6 vs top 50 RPI teams, but they are ranked 55th in the nation when it comes to points allowed per game. They give up on average just 61.4 PPG. Following their most recent loss to Arkansas, this game is critical in regards to the seeding for their upcoming conference tournament.
Currently, Kentucky is favored by just three points in Las Vegas. Last season, they were favored by double digits in both games against Georgia.