Kentucky will get a look at Mark Fox and the Georgia Bulldogs for a third time this season when the two teams meet in the first quarterfinal game at the SEC Tournament tomorrow afternoon. The two regular season meetings went down to the wire: the first going to overtime in Lexington after Malik Monk’s game-tying jumper with 10 seconds to go; the second came down to the last minute, where Kentucky sealed it with clutch free throws in Athens.
On Friday afternoon, Big Blue Nation hopes to see a little more separation from the Wildcats in their first game of the postseason.
Here are some things to know before that one tips off:
(1) Yante Maten is back.
The biggest storyline on either side is the return of Yante Maten for Georgia. Maten played his first game since going down with a knee injury on February 18 (against Kentucky coincidentally) in Thursday’s second-round win over Tennessee. The senior big man scored 12 points with five rebounds in his return to action.
In his first encounter with Kentucky this season, Maten went for 22 points, five rebounds and five assists. The second encounter was a short one as he went down with that injury on one of the first possessions of the game.
(2) Georgia is still playing for a postseason.
It’s unlikely you will see Georgia on your NCAA tournament brackets next week, but a win over Kentucky would really boost the Bulldogs’ resume and give them some hope going into the weekend in Nashville.
E’Torrion Wilridge, a sophomore forward, said today, “I think if we win tomorrow, I think we’ll definitely be in.”
Maten added, “That’s going to really help our resume to help us get into the NCAA tournament.”
Never count out a talented team that is playing for their lives.
(3) J.J. Frazier scored 59 points in the first two games against Kentucky.
No one in college basketball had more fun against Kentucky’s defense than J.J. Frazier in 2016-17. Georgia’s lead guard went for 23 points in Lexington and then a season-high 36 points in the rematch in Athens, and it could’ve been more.
(4) Georgia will try something new in its third attempt.
After today’s win over Tennessee, Mark Fox looked ahead to the Kentucky game, saying, “We’re going to have to play — we’ve had a couple games in row with Kentucky that have been great games, but we didn’t — we haven’t been over the hump. We have to do some difficult things. Our team is way different right now, too. We’ll have to come up with a obviously a new plan.”
Something tells me the high pick-and-roll will still be in the plans.
(5) Mark Fox’s job is not in jeopardy, despite what you’ve heard.
Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity issued a statement Tuesday to assure everyone Mark Fox’s future is not in jeopardy. McGarity’s statement read, “We are NOT in the process of exploring our options to replace Mark Fox. We look forward to Mark leading our program next year and all of our efforts are centered on postseason play.”