Georgia Bulldogs vs. Kentucky Wildcats Pick 1/21/20

by | Jan 21, 2020 | cbb

Georgia Bulldogs (11-6 SU, 8-8 ATS) vs. Kentucky Wildcats (13-4 SU, 8-9 ATS)
When: Tuesday, January 21, 7 p.m.
Where: Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky.
TV: ESPN

Point Spread: UGA +11.5/UK -11.5 (BetNow)
Total: O/U 145

Last Time Out:

Georgia lost 91-59 at Mississippi State; Kentucky beat Arkansas 73-66.

Scouting the Bulldogs:

The less said about Georgia’s disastrous performance in Starkville, the better as far as the Bulldogs are concerned. Tom Crean said in no uncertain terms that Georgia failed to rebound or play defense against Mississippi State, and the result was a game that was never competitive. Really, Georgia’s issues stem from two other issues: Anthony Edwards isn’t shooting the ball very well at the moment and isn’t getting much help from the rest of the Georgia lineup. Georgia has lost three of its past four, and the one game that the Bulldogs won was because Rayshaun Hammonds added 21 points to complement Edwards’ 26.

Scouting the Wildcats:

Kentucky is relying far too much on its 3-point defense and deep shooting as of late, and that combination burned the Wildcats at South Carolina. Instead of holding a significant edge on their opponents from the perimeter, Kentucky hit just 33.3 percent of its shots while the Gamecocks hit 36.8 percent. That’s not a great number by any means, but considering that Kentucky was winning close games while hitting half of its triples and holding opponents to 20 percent or less, it was more than enough for South Carolina.

The real concern for Kentucky is that the loss wasn’t a wakeup call for the Cats. Kentucky still struggled at Arkansas until John Calipari got tossed from the game, which caused the Wildcats to recover and blow by Arkansas, riding tough defense and a strong effort from Nick Richards to the win. Kentucky has still played well enough to win most nights, but the Wildcats have to find that next gear if they want to be a championship squad.

X-Factor:

The return game. These teams have already played once in a nine-point Kentucky win in Athens, and when you play a team for the second time in two weeks, both sides have to make major adjustments to ensure that they give their opponent a different look the second time around. In this game, both teams have to take a look at the things they did well and find a way to build off them while eliminating bad habits from the first game. John Calipari and Tom Crean have both been around long enough to know that the second game against a team in the same season is seldom the same as the first one, and both need to ensure they have their teams ready to try something new in order to get a critical victory.

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Georgia will Cover if:

The Bulldogs can shoot the 3-pointer better than they did in Athens. Georgia could have won the game at home if it had managed to shoot better than 5-for-23 from behind the arc and gotten some offensive contributions from someone besides Anthony Edwards. Edwards is far and away Georgia’s best player, but he cannot win a game by himself. When nobody else scores more than 10 points in a game, it’s difficult for Georgia to get anything done.

Kentucky will Cover if:

The Wildcats can get rebounds and turn them into good shots. One of the reasons that Georgia struggled in losses at Auburn and Mississippi State is that the Bulldogs allowed both opponents to shoot better than 53 percent from the floor (with Mississippi State shooting 61 percent from the field). Part of that was because Georgia couldn’t get rebounds and let their opponents put home easy second-chance points. If the Wildcats can create their own shots and extend possessions, they should win comfortably.

Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread:

Georgia has been a home-court hero this year, other than a trip to Memphis. The Bulldogs are 9-1 in Athens this season, with the only loss being Kentucky. But outside of Stegeman Coliseum, Georgia has been a very beatable team. Outside of the Memphis game, the only true road game Georgia has won against a Division I opponent (they also won at Division II Chaminade in the Maui Invitational), Georgia’s average margin of defeat is 24 points. The Dawgs have also taken a 19-point neutral floor loss to Dayton, and they come in riding a 13-game losing streak to the Wildcats.

If Georgia couldn’t get the job done against Kentucky in their home fortress of Athens, there’s no reason to think that the Dawgs can get a win in Lexington. Big Blue hasn’t lost to Georgia in Lexington since 2009, and even though Kentucky hasn’t been playing great as of late, Georgia’s horrible performances on the road suggest that this is the game where Kentucky gets healthy. Give me the Cats for the cover.

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