What To Watch For Vs. Kentucky

Matthew McGavic

This past week had plenty of ups and downs for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. They might have come out with more wins than losses over the 3 game stretch with victories over Bethune-Cookman and Nebraska, but the loss to Syracuse left much to be desired. Junior forward Moses Wright averaged a double-double on the week and the Jackets experienced their lowest turnover mark on the season against the Cornhuskers with 13, however their 34 point loss against Jim Boeheim to end the week was their worst home loss since 1981. 

Josh Pastner and company will have to have a short memory following the blowout loss to the Orange, as their next contest won't be much easier. They'll travel up north to the Bluegrass State where they will face the #8 Kentucky Wildcats in Lexington, KY. Tipoff is set for 5:00pm this Saturday, December 14th at Rupp Arena, and can be found on ESPN.

Here are a couple of the more significant storylines to follow ahead of Tech's 72nd all-time matchup with the Wildcats:

Not Your Typical Calipari Team

Over the course of his tenure as the head coach of the Wildcats, John Calipari has developed a reputation of recruiting high caliber freshmen and subsequently giving them meaningful playing time. While Coach Cal did manage to haul in yet another top tier recruiting class (#2- 24/7), they have only made a combined 13 starts in 8 games (Kahlil Whitney - 7, Tyrese Maxey - 5, Johnny Juzang -1).

Sophomore point guard Ashton Hagans' 7.0 assists a game ranks 9th in the country, junior forward Nick Richards leads the SEC in field goal percentage & is top 10 in the conference in both offensive and defensive boards, and sophomore guard Immanuel Quickley is the only Wildcat to shoot over 35% from beyond the arc.

However don't discount freshman guard Tyrese Maxey. He is second on the team in scoring (13.1) and assists (3.0) and was instrumental in Kentucky's takedown of then #1 Michigan State.

Shooting Woes:

Much like Georgia Tech, Kentucky has also struggled to connect on three point shots. Both the Yellow Jackets and Wildcats are sitting on 29.0% on the season from beyond the arc. Their leading shooters in Tyrese Maxey & Immanuel Quickley are a combined 33.9% on the season, with the rest of the team combining for just 24.6%.

Not having the best three point shooting team has forced the Wildcats to mostly abandon the outside shots. According to KenPom, only 27.4% of Kentucky's total field goal attempts are three point attempts, which ranks 340th in the nation. They've done a good job on shots inside the arc, going 54.6% on two point shots.

Injury Bug:

Something that Georgia Tech Football & Kentucky Basketball can relate to this athletics season is an uncanny amount of injuries that they have been forced to deal with. 8 different players have started in the Wildcats' 8 games this season, ranging from role players to starters. 

Grad transfer forward and regular starter Nate Sestina is currently out with a broken wrist, sophomore guard Immanuel Quickley sat out against Utah State due to a chest injury, and forwards Nick Richards & EJ Montgomery have both missed some time due to ankle injuries. Kentucky has plenty of talent, but this is without a doubt the most injury-prone team that John Calipari has ever coached.

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