KENTUCKY WILDCATS (20-9)
at GEORGIA BULLDOGS (14-15)
Tip-off: Thursday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Line: Kentucky -2.5, Total: 124
Kentucky tries to end a three-game road losing skid Thursday when they visit a Georgia team that has been quite a profitable wager over the past six weeks.
The Wildcats have won eight of their past 11 games SU, but have covered in just four of those victories (4-7 ATS). The Bulldogs have been just the opposite, dropping four of their past six SU, but posting an impressive 10-1 ATS mark in their past 11 contests. Kentucky is just 5-11 ATS in conference play while Georgia is 11-5 ATS versus SEC foes this season. Although the Wildcats are 14-4 SU in the past 18 meetings in this series, the Bulldogs are 4-3 ATS in the past seven meetings.
Which SEC rival will get the win in Athens on Thursday night? For the answer, connect to College Basketball Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. StatFox Gary is red-hot with a 67% ATS mark (10-5) since Feb. 27 to improve to 55% ATS (97-80-4) for college basketball Best Bets this season. StatFox Dave is 73% ATS (8-3) since Feb. 28, and is now 52.0% ATS (154-142-5) for the season. And since Feb. 21, StatFox Brian is 59% ATS (13-9) when he wagers on non-BCS conference games.
Kentucky is just 10-16 ATS this season, including 3-9 ATS in non-home games and 3-7 ATS in true road games. The Wildcats have outshot their opponents by a wide margin (48.5% FG to 38.9% FG), but the defense has not been the same since the nation's block leader, C Nerlens Noel (10.5 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 4.4 BPG), suffered a season-ending knee injury. In five games since Noel's injury, UK is allowing 73.8 PPG, including 80.5 PPG in two road losses. The Wildcats have four other players averaging double-figures in scoring. Freshman SG Archie Goodwin (13.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG) has four straight games of 11+ points, pumping in 14.8 PPG during this streak. Freshman PF Alex Poythress (11.9 PPG, 6.1 RPG) has barely missed a shot in his past three games, going 18-for-24 (75%) from the floor leading to 15.3 PPG. But sophomore SF Kyle Wiltjer (10.8 PPG, 4.3 RPG) has been ice-cold with just 3.7 PPG on 3-of-14 FG (1-of-6 threes) in his past three contests. But Wiltjer made the most of limited minutes in last season's two-game sweep of Georgia, scoring a combined 15 points on 5-of-7 threes in just 27 minutes of action. Sophomore PG Ryan Harrow (10.2 PPG, 3.2 APG) has played pretty well lately with 14.3 PPG on 51% FG during a four-game streak of double-digit points.
Georgia likes to play low-scoring affairs, averaging just 60.4 PPG (314th in nation) on 41.4% FG (267th in D-I), while allowing only 61.4 PPG (38.6% FG). The Bulldogs have limited visiting teams to 58.4 PPG in 17 home games, where they have compiled an 11-6 SU mark (7-6 ATS). But although they have just 60.3 PPG in SEC play, Georgia is coming off a conference-best 78 points in Saturday's 78-68 win over Tennessee. The Bulldogs made 8-of-16 threes and 22-of-26 free throws in that surprising victory, but only two players scored 10+ points. Explosive sophomore SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (18.0 PPG, 6.9 RPG) pumped in 25 points (4-of-8 threes) with nine rebounds and four steals. Although he's the team's only player scoring at least 8.0 PPG this season and has reached double-figures in all 29 contests, Caldwell-Pope tallied just 16 points on 7-of-24 shooting (29%) in two losses to Kentucky last season. Freshman SG Charles Mann (6.6 PPG, 3.0 RPG) was the other double-figure scorer on Saturday with 18 points, eight assists and four rebounds. Mann shoots a poor 36% FG this season, but has done a great job getting to the free-throw line in the past three games, making 24-of-32 attempts (75%). Sophomore PF Nemanja Djurisic (7.7 PPG, 3.9 RPG) is the team's best frontcourt scorer, but he shoots just 39% from the floor and 29% on threes this season. He scored 10 points with five rebounds in last season's home loss to Kentucky, but followed that up with just two points (1-of-4 FG) in 16 minutes in the defeat in Lexington.