Kentucky Basketball: 4 Keys to Beating Georgia in SEC Game

Nick NafpliotisCorrespondent IMarch 28, 2017

Kentucky Basketball: 4 Keys to Beating Georgia in SEC Game

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    After their crushing 73-60 loss to Arkansas on March 2, the Kentucky Wildcats absolutely must win their contest against Georgia on March 7 to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive.

    At 14-15 and 8-8 in the SEC, the Bulldogs aren't exactly a formidable opponent. But a young team like the Wildcats with their backs against the wall is anything but a sure bet for a win.

    The following are four keys the Wildcats will need to focus on to defeat Georgia on the road this Thursday.

     

    All stats via ESPN.com 

1. Contain Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

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    Despite Georgia not being anywhere near the top of the SEC, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope may very well be the best player in the conference. The big sophomore guard is a nightmare matchup for any defender (18 ppg) and is one of the best rebounding backcourt men in the nation (6.9 rpg).

    I know I might get a lot of flack for this, but Kentucky's best option may be to have power forward Alex Poythress guard him man-to-man. Poythress' size and athleticism matches up well with Caldwell-Pope and would give the Wildcats someone who could stay with him and go toe-to-toe with him on the boards, assuming he can stay out of foul trouble.

2. Keep Archie Goodwin Away from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

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    Kentavious Caldwell-Pope isn't just good on offense; he also leads Georgia with 62 steals this season (an average of 2.1 per game). His defensive play has improved immensely from his freshman season, making him a threat on both ends of the floor.

    Archie Goodwin, meanwhile, is turning the ball over 3.2 times per game. On the road and potentially having to guard a dominant player like Caldwell-Pope is the perfect (i.e. terrible) recipe to get Goodwin into the mode where he begins forcing things and coughing up the ball.

    Screens, post-ups and more offense from Ryan Harrow in the lane will hopefully keep Goodwin from trying unsuccessfully to take over the game. 

3. Stay Out of Foul Trouble

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    Foul trouble has plagued the Wildcats the last few games. Even against a team as weak as Georgia, a young team like Kentucky needs to be careful not to back themselves into an early corner with cheap fouls.

    Even with the Bulldogs shooting only 68.7 percent from the free-throw line, it's going to take a team effort (or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist making a miraculous return) to shut down Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

    And speaking of free throws...

4. For the Love of All That Is Holy, Make Free Throws

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    Yes, I mentioned the exact same thing last week in an article on key areas to focus on for the Arkansas game.

    Yes, it is still a major issue.

    The Wildcats shot a terrible 63 percent (17-27) from the line against the Razorbacks. You can't leave that many free points on the floor when you're playing on the road. The Bulldogs might not be a very tough team, but right now, this Kentucky team needs every advantage that they can get.

     

     

     

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