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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 15, 3:25 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Georgia Dome (71,228) -- Atlanta, Georgia. Television: ABC. Home Record: UGA 12-6, UK 16-2. Away Record: UGA 4-7, UK 5-5. Neutral Record: UGA 1-3, UK 2-2. Conference Record: UGA 12-6, UK 12-6. Series Record: Kentucky leads, 116-26.
GAME NOTES: After both the third-seeded Georgia Bulldogs and the second-seeded Kentucky Wildcats took advantage of the rest they earned from their double- byes in the quarterfinal round, the teams will meet up in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament on Saturday afternoon at the Georgia Dome.
The winner advances to Sunday's championship tilt to play either Florida or Tennessee.
Georgia (19-12) was arguably the SEC's most pleasant surprise this season in earning the No. 3 seed and proved its worth in the quarterfinals with a 75-73 triumph over Ole Miss to earn its fifth win in the past six games. The contest was tightly-contested from the very start, as the teams battled through 17 ties and 20 lead changes, but with the Bulldogs trailing by one with just 16 seconds left, Charles Mann delivered the dramatic game-winning jumper. Although they shot only 35.8 percent from the field on the evening, they made up for it with a 31-of-42 showing at the foul line. Mann led the way with 16 points, Brandon Morris and Kenny Gaines netted 12 points apiece, J.J. Frazier had 11 points off the bench and Marcus Thornton logged nine points and 11 rebounds.
Kentucky (23-9) came into the tournament on a down swing with losses in three of its last four regular-season games, but after nearly a week off it redeemed itself in the quarterfinals with a 85-67 triumph over LSU. After trailing by eight early in the first half, the Wildcats turned things around and went into intermission with a 10-point lead and extended that advantage to as many as 21 down the stretch. James Young led all scorers with 21 points, and Julius Randle tallied 17 points and 16 rebounds. Aaron Harrison and Andrew Harrison netted 14 and 11 points, respectively, with Andrew handing out eight assists. Dakari Johnson chipped in to the balanced attack with nine points, 11 rebounds and three blocks.
Kentucky dismissed Georgia in the only previous meeting this season, 79-54 in Lexington on Jan. 25, to improve upon their all-time series domination over the Bulldogs, 116-26.
The Bulldogs have had plenty of success this season in spite of their modest offense, as they shoot less than 44 percent from the field for 69.4 ppg. Luckily their scoring defense (66.6 ppg) ranks among the SEC's best. Mann (13.5 ppg) and Gaines (13.3 ppg) are neck-and-neck for the scoring lead, although Gaines' field goal percentage (.446) has been much more impressive than Mann's (.396). Thornton (8.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.4 bpg) brings a physical presence to the paint.
The Wildcats have played well on both ends of the court this season, scoring 76.6 ppg on greater than 45 percent field-goal shooting, while allowing just 67.1 ppg, and they boast the nation's second-best rebounding margin at +10.0. Randle has is a premiere power forward with 15.5 ppg and 10.7 rpg, while fellow freshmen Young (14.6 ppg), Aaron Harrison (13.5 ppg) and Andrew Harrison (10.8 ppg, 3.7 apg) have also been impressive.
Georgia has been rock-solid all season long and has the defensive prowess to give Kentucky headaches, but its lack of explosion will ultimately cost it against a more talented Wildcats squad. Expect UK to continue its late-season redemption by moving on to the title game.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Kentucky 72, Georgia 67
03/15 10:35:16 ET
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