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Men's Hoops Preview: K-State at Georgia Bulldogs

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Was South Carolina State a hangover or a sign? Today we gather evidence.

This one's for Furnace.
This one's for Furnace.
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Eric's tied up today, so you'll have to settle for an abbreviated preview which will once and for all convince you that Jon knew what he was doing when he pawned off basketball duties.

The Kansas State Wildcats (5-1, #82) travel to Stegeman Coliseum in Athens for their first road game of the year and second of four meetings with the SEC as they take on Georgia (3-2, #49) at 6:00 CT. Last time out the Cats had to fight to hold off a determined MEAC opponent, leaving questions as to just how much punch this team has.

Know your opponent

Georgia plays slow -- adjusted tempo at 68 possessions a game, ranked 252nd in Division I. (For comparison, the Cats are ranked 146th at 70.8 per.) They're only slightly above average in adjusted offensive efficiency, ranked 154th, nine spots ahead of the Cats. Defensively, however, the Bulldogs are a threat. Georgia is ranked 30th in adjusted defensive efficiency. Luckily for the Cats, they're ranked 34th. Georgia's schedule is also sort of laughable thus far. Their wins have come against Murray State, High Point, and Oakland. (Somehow, Murray State without Steve Prohm is the worst of those three wins.) They lost to Seton Hall and Chattanooga.

Basically, these two teams are remarkably similiar in terms of efficiency, but the Wildcats move the ball faster. Georgia is favored (Pomeroy predicts 68-64), largely because this game is in Athens. In Manhattan, Georgia would probably be a one- or two-point dog. Or dawg, as it were.

Keep a close watch on:

J.J. Frazier, who has a top-40 assist rate nationally. Kenny Gaines is the primary scoring threat from outside, hitting 18 of 37 so far; Yante Maten is the guy inside, making 21 buckets in five games and earning 41 trips to the line in the process. When Kenny Paul Geno is on the floor, expect the pace to glacialize: he's top-five on Georgia's roster in minutes played, but is actually only active for under 12% of Georgia's possessions. When he's on the floor, the possessions get lo... ong... nger.

Probable Starters

Kansas State:

F Wesley Iwundu, 6-7 210 Jr
F Dean Wade, 6-10 225 Fr
F Stephen Hurt, 6-11 265 Sr
G Justin Edwards, 6-4 200 Sr
G Kamau Stokes, 6-0 170 Fr

Georgia:

F Yante Maten, 6-8 240 So
F Houston Kessler, 6-8 225 Jr
G Kenny Paul Geno, 6-6 210 Jr
G Kenny Gaines, 6-3 205 So
G Charles Mann, 6-3 215 So

(Note: Kessler usually starts, but then Georgia tends to bring Frazier (5-10, 155 Jr) in as part of a small package.)

Three Keys to the Game

1. Turnovers

K-State is very good at not turning the ball over, and very good at forcing turnovers. Georgia is very bad at both. That will be a very important key to this game, as the Cats are going to need to keep that process rolling tonight just to meet expectations.

2. Collecting their own mistakes

Another area where K-State has a substantial advantage is on the offensive boards. The Cats, somewhat suprisingly, are now a top-50 team as far as getting their own misses back, recovering on 37.1% of offensive rebound chances. Georgia allows said second chances at a relatively average clip. But on the other end of the court, Georgia is poor at grabbing their own rebounds, while the Cats are a relatively good defensive rebounding team as well. If the Cats can decisively win the battle on the glass, they'll be in good shape.

3. Get to the line

K-State's been very good at this for the most part, 19th in the nation in free throws as a percentage of points scored. Georgia does the same thing, but they're below average at keeping opponents off the line compared to the Cats and the national average. This is a very slight efficiency K-State can exploit, as long as the refs call an average game.

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