Top-ranked Kentucky meets Georgia in SEC showdown

Athens, GA ( - Closing in on a perfect regular season, the top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats take to the road for the last time, as they battle the Georgia Bulldogs in an SEC affair at Stegeman Coliseum.


John Calipari's Wildcats ran their record to a school-record 29-0 with Saturday's 84-67 win over Arkansas. By topping the Razorbacks, Kentucky clinched the outright SEC title, the team's 46th conference championship. To put the school's dominance into perspective, the remainder of the schools in the SEC have just 49 SEC crowns combined. UK will close out the regular season at home this weekend against Florida.


Mark Fox's Bulldogs would love to play the role of spoiler in this game. Georgia is eying up its 20th win of the season with two games to play and will be closing out its home slate against the Wildcats. Georgia has won three straight games to move to 19-9 overall and 10-6 in the SEC, tied for fourth in the league with LSU and Ole Miss. The Bulldogs made light work of Missouri on the road on Saturday, 68-44.


This marks the 145th all-time meeting between these two teams on the hardwood. Kentucky holds a lopsided 118-26 advantage all-time against Georgia, including a sizable 40-17 edge in games played in Athens. Kentucky takes aim at the regular-season sweep after earning a 69-58 decision in Lexington on Feb. 3.

Kentucky jumped all over Arkansas in the showdown of the top two teams in the SEC and took the fight right out of the Razorbacks by taking a 42-26 lead into halftime and never looking back. Andrew Harrison and Trey Lyles led the way offensively for Kentucky with 18 points apiece. Tyler Ulis added 14 points, while Devin Booker checked in with 10 for the Wildcats, who shot .483 from the floor, while holding the usually explosive Razorbacks to a meager .375 effort.

The Wildcats have added a little offensive pop of late and combined with their stingy defensive play, makes them a real threat to run the table through the postseason as well. Kentucky leads the nation in field-goal percentage defense (.344) and scoring margin (+21.8), while ranking second in scoring defense (53.2 ppg) and blocked shots (203). Aaron Harrison and Booker lead the way at the offensive end with 11.1 ppg apiece. Big men Karl-Athony Towns (9.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 67 blocks) and Willie Cauley-Stein (9.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 47 blocks) are a formidable duo, especially at the defensive end.


The Bulldogs were impressive over the weekend, as their 24-point romp over Missouri represented the largest margin of victory in an SEC game this season. Georgia shot just .394 from the floor, but completely shut down the Tigers, who managed a mere .286 effort. Georgia also held a commanding 47-30 edge in rebounding in the win. Djurisic Nemanja led the team with 14 points. Cameron Forte and J.J. Frazier added 10 points each off the bench.


Georgia doesn't put up gaudy offensive numbers at a modest 69.1 ppg, but what makes the Bulldogs dangerous is their balanced attack. The team boasts of five players currently averaging double digits in the scoring column. Senior forward Marcus Thornton leads the charge and tops the team in both scoring and rebounding with 12.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per outing. Kenny Gaines is a close second in scoring at 11.7 ppg, followed by Charles Mann (11.3 ppg), Nemanja (11.1 ppg) and Frazier (10.0 ppg).


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