Jan. 24, 2014
About the Game
Georgia makes its first trip to Kentucky in almost two years when the Bulldogs meet UK in a Saturday afternoon contest. It will be the only regular-season matchup between these two programs in 2014. Kentucky does not visit Athens for the first time since the 1963 season.
Georgia arrives at this game with a 10-7 overall record, a 4-1 mark in SEC games. Most recently, the Bulldogs defeated South Carolina 97-76 in Athens three nights ago. The victory was Georgia's most lopsided in SEC play since 2012 and it was the program's highest scoring total in a conference game since 2011. Several other milestones, all related to the steady stream of fouls called, were within reach in this game. Georgia tied a school record with 50 free-throw attempts. The combined 86 attempts were the most in a Georgia game since a 1997 contest with Kentucky (90 att.). The combined 59 fouls were the most since a UGA-Auburn game from 2007.
Individually, Georgia got a career-best 22 points from junior forward Nemi Djurisic that included 3-of-3 shooting from 3-point range. Those were his first treys since making four of five in the SEC opener at Missouri back on Jan. 8. Marcus Thornton continued his emergence as a frontcourt leader for this team with 12 points and seven boards in just 21 minutes of work. He now leads Georgia in rebounding and is fourth in the SEC during the 5-game league schedule.
Saturday's matchup will be the 142nd meeting between the two schools. Kentucky owns a 115-26 lead in the series. The only meeting last season produced a 72-62 Georgia victory, played on March 7 in Athens.
Georgia is wrapping up what has turned out to be the most challenging portion of its 2014 schedule. The Bulldogs have played six RPI Top 100 opponents in their past eight games. The difficulty of its recent schedule, combined with wins over three of those Top 100 teams, caused Georgia's own RPI rating to jump over 130 spots in the past month.
|F||2||Marcus Thornton**||6-8||235||RJr.||Atlanta, Ga.||7.5||5.6|
|F||15||Donte' Williams***||6-9||225||Sr.||Ellenwood, Ga.||5.9||5.5|
|F||31||Brandon Morris||6-7||215||So.||Lithonia, Ga.||9.0||3.8|
|G||4||Charles Mann*||6-5||210||So.||Alpharetta, Ga.||13.1||2.9a|
|G||12||Kenny Gaines*||6-3||195||So.||Atlanta, Ga.||12.0||2.5|
#Assists Per Game
|F||15||Willie Cauley-Stein||7-0||244||So.||Olathe, Kan.||8.0||7.0|
|F||30||Julius Randle||6-9||250||Fr.||Dallas, Tex.||16.7||10.6|
|G||1||James Young||6-6||215||Fr.||Rochester Hill, Mich.||14.3||4.5|
|G||2||Aaron Harrison||6-6||218||Fr.||Richmond, Texas||13.7||3.1|
|G||5||Andrew Harrison||6-6||215||Fr.||Richmond, Texas||11.3||3.5a|
Head Coach: John Calipari
Record at Kentucky / Years: 582-170 / 22nd season
Overall Record / Years: 137-30 / 5th season
Assistant Coaches: Orlando Antigua, John Robic, Kenny Payne
Georgia vs. Kentucky
Saturday's game is the 142nd all-time meeting between these two schools in basketball. Kentucky leads the series, as it does against all of its longtime SEC brethren, by a lopside count: 115-26.
Though Georgia has defeated Kentucky just 26 times ever, nine of those wins have come in the past 12 years.
A geographical breakdown of the series follows:
Games in Athens: UK leads 40-17
Games in Lexington: UK leads 56-5
Neutral-Court Games: UK leads 8-3
SEC Tournament Games: UK leads 5-1
UK has also won single games in Baton Rouge; Columbus, Ga.; Knoxville; Memphis; Nashville and Owensboro, Ky.
Georgia's win Wednesday over South Carolina improved its SEC record to 4-1 for the first time since the 2002 season. That year, the Bulldogs eventually tied for the Eastern Division title and earned the East's No. 1 seed at the SEC Tournament. A victory in Lexington today would push the record to 5-1 for the first time since 2001. Those two seasons (2001-02) were the last time Georgia played in consecutive NCAA Tournaments.
These most recent games have seen Georgia's rotation come into much sharper focus. The Bulldogs did not have a single player averaging 30 minutes through the pre-conference slate. Charles Mann and backcourt mate Kenny Gaines are currently averaging over 32 minutes in SEC play. Additionally, fellow starters Marcus Thornton and Brandon Morris both recorded career highs in minutes played last Saturday against Arkansas.
Charles Mann's knack for frequent trips to the free-throw line is no secret. As a freshman last season, he had the fifth most free-throw attempts of any SEC player (170). In the Alabama game Jan. 11, when he went 13 of 18 from the line, his 18 tries were the most by a Georgia player in 10 years and the fourth most in UGA history.
Much has been made of the new enforcement of existing rules, as well as new rules, this season. Thus far, as all participants adjust to these changes, the volume of called fouls rose in the beginning but has leveled off recently. There has been an average of 41 fouls called in each of Georgia's games thus far this season, compared to 36 fouls per game last season.
As the SEC schedule began, the Bulldogs ranked among the top 50 nationally in field-goal percentage, with seven games of at least 50 percent shooting. However, they began this week ranking 143rd in the NCAA. The South Carolina game Wednesday stopped a string of three season-low field-goal percentages for Georgia.
Perhaps no statistic has had a greater effect on Georgia's fate this season than in rebounding. Simply stated, when the Bulldogs have outrebounded their opponent, they've won. When they haven't, they've lost. In Georgia's 10 wins, the Bulldogs have compiled a +12.1 rebounding margin, most recently a +12 margin vs. South Carolina. Their rebounding margin in seven losses is -4.1.
Additional findings in the wins vs. losses:
> Kenny Gaines is Georgia's leading scorer in its 10 wins (12.6 ppg). Charles Mann, UGA's leading scorer overall, leads Georgia in its seven losses (15.2 ppg) but has only the No. 2 average in its 10 wins (11.4 ppg)
> Not surprisingly, Georgia wins the free throw-shooting competition when it wins the game. The Bulldogs have outscored their opponents by an average of 21-14 in their 10 wins. Conversely, their opponents have won that battle by a 22-15 in Georgia's seven losses. In addition, their opponents have shot over 79 percent from the line in those seven games.
Georgia began this season amidst low expectations...externally, anyway. The Bulldogs were picked by the media that cover SEC basketball to finish 11th in the 14-team league, ahead of only South Carolina, Mississippi State and Auburn. Kentucky, Florida and Tennessee were picked 1-2-3 in the same poll. Additionally, no Bulldogs were selected to the 16-player pre-season All-SEC lists.
One effect of not having Kentavious Caldwell-Pope on this year's team: last year, 30 percent of Georgia's total field goals were scored from 3-point range. This year, just 18 percent thus far have come from beyond the arc. Perhaps another way to view this difference: last season's Georgia team averaged scoring 22 points in the paint area. This season, that number thus far has risen to 34.2 points in the paint.
Most discussion involving KCP's absence has revolved around its effect on the Georgia offense. Little discussion has pertained to its effect on the Georgia defense, which this year has allowed its opponents a .403 overall field-goal percentage, .352 from 3-point range, compared to .388 and .329, respectively, with KCP in the lineup last season.
On Dec. 28, when Colorado sank all 26 of its free-throw attempts, it marked the first time in almost 19 years a Bulldog opponent had shot 100 percent. Tennessee went 10x10 against Georgia on Feb. 11, 1995. That was 584 games ago. For Georgia, it's been 772 games since its last 100 percent shooting night...back to Jan. 14, 1989 vs. Vanderbilt (12x12).
Georgia has now shot at least 50 percent from the field eight times this season. That equals the number of 50 percent shooting games over the previous two seasons combined.
Staff Changes for 2014
For the first time of his 4+ seasons in Athens, head coach Mark Fox made changes to his immediate coaching staff. Three-year UGA letterman (2002-04) Jonas Hayes was promoted from Operations Coordinator to Assistant Coach. A native Atlantan, Hayes returned to UGA in 2012 after serving as an Assistant Coach at Belmont Abbey in North Carolina for five seasons. He had also assisted the programs at South Carolina State, Morehouse and his alma mater, Douglass High School, after graduating from UGA in 2004.
Hayes, whose twin brother Jarvis continues to play professionally overseas, became the first Georgia basketball alumnus to hold a full-time assistant's position on the staff at his alma mater since Mark Slonaker assisted Hugh Durham from 1989-95.
To replace Hayes in the Coordinator's position, Fox hired Byron Samuels in May of 2013. The Winston-Salem, N.C., native, is a veteran of the collegiate ranks whose career includes head coaching stops at Hampton, Radford and, most lastly, at Hillsborough Community College, where he coached recent UGA alum John Florveus. Samuels is a veteran of SEC basketball, having assisted four Tennessee teams that earned NCAA Tournament berths.