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Men's Hoops Preview - Kansas State vs. Georgia Bulldogs

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The final contest on the non-conference schedule, we return to the scene of the crime...

Senior leadership, Nino. Your time is come.
Senior leadership, Nino. Your time is come.
Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Welp. At this point, most of us have fallen to new depths with this year's squad, and worn our emotions on our sleeve for all to see. Nonetheless, we are at where we're at now, and as far as coverage of the team goes, we must soldier on.

The Kansas State Wildcats (7-5) tipoff against the Georgia Bulldogs in our final non-conference home game of the season, at 3:00pm CT in Bramlage Coliseum. K-State is coming into the game off what is arguably the worst loss of the Bruce Weber era, a 58-56 loss to Texas Southern in Bramlage. Georgia last picked up a 86-77 triple-overtime win at home against Mercer on Saturday.

I would love to know what Ernie Barrett has to say about the season so far. We're not discussing Sunday's game at any length. It's time for the team to decide whether they're going to play basketball or not this season.

Know Your Opponent

Georgia (7-3), as noted, is coming in off a skin-of-their-teeth home win against a sub-par program in Mercer, but have quality home victories against a solid Seton Hall squad as well as a decent-but-not-great Colorado team. Mark Fox's team has also battled Gonzaga and Minnesota to close losses in Madison Square Garden in the NIT Season Tipoff.

Kenpom has Georgia ranked #36 in the country right now (much better than our #98), and is above average in many statistical categories. Of note is the fact that they're not an exceptional outside shooting team - they are toward the lower end of Division I with a 30.7% rate behind the arc. They know this fact, though, and their offensive scoring comes more from pounding the ball inside - 80.4% of their points for the season have come from inside the arc or from the free throw line (national average is 72%). Their eFG% is also quite high, because of their above average shooting percentage from two. The one stat that stands out, though, is their propensity for drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line. These guys do a great job around the glass on both ends of the floor: they're currently one of the best rebounding teams in the country, and are top-20 in blocks per game.

Keep a close watch on:

Senior forward Marcus Thornton is an absolute beast. Currently averaging 14.9ppg, 7.5rpg, and 1.3bpg, Thornton is making a strong case for All-SEC consideration, and anchors the interior. Junior guard Charles Mann comes into the season as a preseason All-SEC First Team selection by the league coaches, and is contributing 12.5ppg, 5.4rpg, and 3.8apg. Georgia brings four double-digit scorers to the floor in their starting lineup.

Offense/Defense Strategy:

Georgia will focus on man-to-man defense, with select situation zones. They do a good job of defending the shot (great eFG% defense, 3PFG% defense, and 2PFG% defense), and are fantastic at cleaning up the glass on missed shots. Contrary to most teams we've played this year, though - the Bulldogs are not fantastic at creating turnovers.

Offensively, we just need to do something. Anything. Some semblance of taking care of the basketball and attempting to score by going at the basket.

K-State, of course, will be in its man defense. Georgia is very good at drawing fouls, and attacks the basket with their offense. We've got to stand ground and rotate early, or we'll be in foul trouble and giving up layups easily.

Probable Starters

Kansas State:

Nino Williams, 6-5 220 Sr
Thomas Gipson, 6-7 265 Sr
Justin Edwards, 6-4 195 Jr
Jevon Thomas, 6-0 185 So
Marcus Foster, 6-3 210 So

Georgia Bulldogs:

F Nemanja Djurisic, 6-8 230 Sr
F Marcus Thornton, 6-8 235 Sr
G Charles Mann, 6-5 210 Jr
G Juwan Parker, 6-4 200 So
G Kenny Gaines, 6-3 195 Jr

3 1 Keys To The Game

1. Pride

Let's not kid ourselves. Most of us took that last loss personally. So this is MY key to the game.

I think what we all want...what we all need to see at this point...is some pride.

Wildcat Pride.

#EMAW.

I really don't care if we win or lose this game, to be honest. I just want to see a group of 16 guys band together and play the game of basketball from tip to horn like their lives depended on it. I want to see a coaching staff that is really driving these guys to put out their best effort.

Of course, I'm curious to see what changes are made. How much will Jevon Thomas play? Will Nino and Gip give the rest of the guys a swift kick in the hindparts? Will Marcus play to "get his", or will he start to become a leader? Who in the hell is going to be the inspiration, the soul of this team?

But at the end of the day, I just want to see the team I'm cheering for bleed as much purple as I do.

With the talent and ability on the team, if we can get that kind of effort, the result will take care of itself.

All stats by http://www.kenpom.com, or by the respective university's sports information.