Just when it looked like the wheels were coming off their season, the Kentucky Wildcats went on the road and stunned No. 5-ranked Tennessee on Saturday. Now they return home on Tuesday to host the 13-4 Georgia Bulldogs in a game that will either show that they’ve turned the corner or will leave people wondering if their upset win was simply an aberration.
Mike White’s first year in charge of the Bulldogs has been successful so far, but they’ve prevailed in just one road game this year. A victory at Rupp Arena tonight would be huge, given the program has not won a game in Lexington since 2009.
Kentucky is a double-digit favorite, but is that number too high? We discuss that and more in our free college basketball picks and predictions for Georgia vs. Kentucky on January 17.
Georgia vs Kentucky best odds
Georgia vs Kentucky picks and predictions
Saturday’s win for the Wildcats came despite being without starting point guard Sahvir Wheeler. This allowed John Calipari to put out a lineup that was perhaps the most balanced one Kentucky possesses.
After starting with a fairly big lineup, Calipari went with a three-guard look that had Cason Wallace playing the point and shooters CJ Fredrick and Antonio Reeves flanking. It wasn’t pretty at times, but the two guards combined for 33 points, and Oscar Tshiebwe did his usual thing, adding 15 points and 13 boards.
Kentucky’s defense was much improved as well, limiting Tennessee to just 40.4% shooting from the floor, with only three made shots from outside the arc. The Vols were one of the few teams not to attack the Wildcats with pick-and-roll situations where Tshiebwe had to come away from the basket and guard an athletic point guard who could get into the lane. It also helped that Wallace and Adou Thiero — not Wheeler — were involved in that PnR defense.
Terry Roberts isn’t going to be as easy for the Wildcats to shut down, as the transfer from Bradley is averaging more than 20 points per game and dropping four dimes per contest.
Big man Braelen Bridges will also be a tougher guard in the pick-and-roll game for Tshiebwe than what Tennessee big Uros Plavsic presented. In their matchup last year, the athletic center matched up well against Tshiebwe, scoring 10 points and beating him with some solid post moves. He also had three baskets off pick-and-roll situations, as Tshiebwe couldn’t keep him away from the rim.
Why does all this matter? Because according to Calipari’s comments on Monday night, Wheeler is likely to return, and even if he doesn’t, Wallace’s back spasm issues aren’t going away. That means Roberts is going to be in situations where he should find himself getting into the lane for some easier baskets or opportunities to find teammates. He’s also a volume shooter from outside, and the Wildcats have been known to give up quite a few open looks.
And then there’s Georgia’s relentless defense. Kentucky turned the ball over 19 times against Tennessee, many of them coming in the second half. That should lead to some easy fast-break points for the Bulldogs as well.
South Carolina’s Meechie Johnson went off for 26 points, six boards, and six assists against Kentucky last week. While I don’t think Roberts will reach that high of a points + rebounds + assists total, I think he easily clears the 20.5 he’s projected for in this contest.
Take Terry to do just that against a Kentucky defense that hasn’t proven they can consistently play like it did in Knoxville.
My best bet: Terry Roberts Over 21.5 points + rebounds + assists (-125 at DraftKings)
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Georgia vs Kentucky spread analysis
Georgia has beaten Kentucky just once in their last 16 meetings and has just 27 victories in 157 previous matchups. The Bulldogs have won at Rupp Arena just two times in the past 20 years, and none since 2009. They’ve already won 13 games after winning just six a season ago, but are only 1-3 away from home in 2022-23.
Kentucky is 20-3 against Georgia under Calipari and currently sits at 11-6 on the season. Its win over Tennessee was the first Quad 1 victory of the year and helped offset a Quad 4 loss a week prior to South Carolina. The defeat to the Gamecocks ended a 26-game home win, and the Wildcats will want to start a new one on Tuesday.
While Kentucky should win the game, many are unsure if they deserve to be favored by 11.5 points. Despite the line getting bet up a point from the opening 10.5 number, our Covers Consensus page is showing Georgia being backed the most by the public.
70% of the picks against the spread have come in on the Dawgs, who have covered ATS in their last four games and in their last five against a team with a winning record.
The Wildcats, on the other hand, covered the spread against Tennessee to end a 10-game stretch of not being able to do so. Kentucky also hasn't covered in its last eight home games.
Georgia vs Kentucky Over/Under analysis
The total of 134.5 has come down two points from where it opened with most books, but it's now come back up a bit after dipping as low as 132.5 at a few places. This is a tricky number to play for a few reasons.
Georgia has seen two low-scoring affairs recently. Prior to that, its last six games had topped this game’s total, with five of them going over the projected total for those contests.
The Wildcats haven’t been involved in many low-scoring games. Five of their last seven games have gone Over, with each of those seeing at least 139 points scored. Only their win against Tennessee and blowout loss at the hands of Alabama failed to reach 135 points.
Much of this will come down to how well Georgia defends the Wildcats and whether Reeves and Fredrick can continue their play from Saturday. If the Wildcats aren’t able to take care of the basketball and get consistent outside scoring, these two defenses could turn this game into a bit of a slog.
Georgia vs Kentucky betting trend to know
Kentucky is 0-7-1 ATS in their last eight home games. Find more College basketball betting trends for Georgia vs. Kentucky.
Georgia vs Kentucky game info
|Location:||Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center, Lexington, KY|
|Date:||Tuesday, January 17, 2023|
|Tip-off:||9:00 p.m. ET|