The Kentucky Wildcats picked up a much-needed win on Saturday against Tennessee, and they’ll look to keep that momentum tonight against Georgia. We’ll preview the game before going over why I’ll be targeting the point total.
It’s hard to imagine a lot of basketball fans thought the Georgia Bulldogs would have a better conference record than Kentucky at this point in the season. Still, here we are on January 17th, with Georgia sitting three spots above the Wildcats in the SEC standings. It is still early in conference play, but up until their most recent win over Tennessee, things were looking grim in the Kentucky program.
The Wildcats snapped a two-game losing streak with a 63-56 win over the Volunteers, which marked the first time they held a conference opponent below 70 points this season. According to KenPom, the Wildcats' defensive efficiency rating of 97.7 ranks 66th in the country, but up until their last game, conference teams were getting a lot of open looks on offense.
There is no denying the offensive talent this team possesses, and they have found success shooting it themselves this season with a 37.5% three-point percentage, which is the 39th highest in the country. Consistency has been an issue, and John Calipari is still searching for the best rotations to maximize the team's potential.
Kentucky will need to carry their momentum into tonight, especially on the offensive end of the floor, as the Georgia Bulldogs are currently ranked 56th in defensive efficiency and has held their last two opponents to below 60 points.
Georgia has needed to rely on their defense in their two most recent games as their offense put up two of their worst performances of the season. Despite winning both games, the Bulldogs only shot 36% and 30% from the field. Leading scorer, Terry Roberts, managed to score 14 points in their last game but did it on 25% shooting, so he’ll need to be more efficient tonight to keep the Bulldogs in the game.
The point total for this game is currently set at 134.5, and I’ll be taking the over as my best bet. Despite their last game being a low-scoring affair, the over 5-2 in Kentucky’s last seven games and 4-0 in their previous four home games.
Georgia has played well defensively recently, but they have yet to face an offense like Kentucky’s, which ranks 22nd in the country in offensive efficiency rating. The two times the Bulldogs have played formidable offenses this season, they allowed 81 and 82 points to be scored in those games.
Offensively the Bulldogs have shown the ability to play up to their competition, as in their last 34 road games against teams with a winning record, the over is 23-10-1 in those games. If Terry Roberts can be more efficient shooting it throughout the night and Kario Oquendo can continue his impressive shooting, I think this game will go over the total.