Wildcats and Bulldogs collide in SEC showdown

11:56 AM, Jan 25, 2014   |    comments
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Lexington, KY (SportsNetwork.com) - The 14th-ranked Kentucky Wildcats will try to remain perfect at Rupp Arena on Saturday afternoon, as they play host to the Georgia Bulldogs in an SEC clash.

Georgia has been a pleasant surprise this season at 10-7 overall and has played especially well in the SEC, where it has won four of five. The Bulldogs most recently made easy work of South Carolina on Wednesday night, 97-76, but while they are a strong 9-1 at home, they have not fared as well on the road (1-3).

While Kentucky may not be living up to its preseason hype, as it came into the campaign ranked No. 1, it is still playing like one of the nation's top teams at 14-4. The Wildcats downed Texas A&M on Tuesday night, 68-51, to improve to 4-1 in the league and have now won all 12 of their home games.

The Wildcats have dominated the all-time series with Georgia, 115-26, although the Bulldogs won the most recent meeting, earning a 72-62 triumph last season in Athens.

The Bulldogs had no problem running past South Carolina earlier in the week in their 21-point victory, shooting a lofty 55.1 percent from the field, and while they made good on just 66 percent from the foul line, they attempted a staggering 50 free throws on the night. Nemanja Djurisic paced the winning effort coming off the bench, shooting 6-of-6 from the field with three 3- pointers on his way to 22 points. Kenny Gaines (14 points), Brandon Morris (13 points, five assists), Marcus Thornton (12 points), Charles Mann (10 points) and Donte' Williams (nine points, 10 rebounds) all chipped in to the well- rounded effort as well.

On the season, Georgia outshoots its opponents from the field, 45.5 percent to 40.3 percent, for a +2.6 scoring margin. It also outrebounds its adversaries by 5.4 boards per contest, but its poor turnover margin (-2.2), 3-point percentage (.338) and free-throw percentage (.658) have held it back as times. Mann (13.1 ppg), Gaines (12.0 ppg) and Djurisic (10.5 ppg) are the top scoring threats, with Djurisic doing his damage on 52.2 percent from the field and 53.7 percent from beyond the arc.

The Wildcats have enjoyed much more prolific scoring performances this season than they had on Tuesday, as they shot a modest 44 percent from the field en route to just 68 points, but they were still able to cruise to a 17-point victory by holding Texas A&M to only 37.3 percent from the field while also dominating the rebounding battle, 42-24. Alex Poythress made his mark in reserve minutes with 16 points on 4-of-7 from the field and 8-of-9 from the foul line. James Young posted 15 points and Julius Randle notched a double- double with 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Kentucky has established itself as the SEC's most well-rounded team, boasting a conference-best +13.5 scoring margin by scoring 79.7 ppg, while allowing just 66.2 ppg, outshooting its opponents from the floor in the process, 47.2 percent to 38.9 percent. It's also aided by having one of the nation's best rebounding margins (+11.7). Julius Randle is in the midst of an outstanding freshman campaign, scoring 16.7 ppg (on 54.5 percent field goal shooting) while ripping down 10.6 rpg. Fellow first-year players Young (14.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg), Aaron Harrison (13.7 ppg) and Andrew Harrison (11.3 ppg, 3.5 apg) have also played well, while Willie Cauley-Stein (8.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg) swats away 3.2 shots per contest.

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