Big East/SEC Challenge Face-Off: Cincinnati @ GeorgiaPosted by mlemaire on December 2nd, 2011
Gerald Smith: When Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie left Georgia early for the NBA Draft, they packed up all the shooting accuracy with them. They contributed roughly 45% of all field goals made last season which powered Georgia to a 45.2% shooting pace last year. This season the Bulldogs are shooting just 38.4% from the floor in seven games. Freshman guard and 2011 McDonald’s All-American Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (13.6 PPG, 5 RPG) is doing his best to shoulder the scoring burden. Caldwell-Pope and the Bulldogs needs more help from senior guard Dustin Ware, who’s experiencing a drop-off in production from last season (7.9 PPG, 43.5% 3FG, 3.5 assists per game) to this season (6.8 PPG, 35.0% 3FG, 1.9 assists per game). Georgia’s frontcourt duo of forwards Donte’ Williams (7.6 PPG, 40% FG, 56% FT) and Marcus Thornton (3.4 PPG, 22% FG, 50% FT) leave a lot to be desired.
Georgia does a good job on defense but doesn’t have enough speed and strength to stop the more talented teams. Xavier and California both plowed the bulldogs with speedy guards.
Prediction: Cincinnati 71, Georgia 63
Patrick Prendergast: Cincinnati came into this season with elevated expectations as they returned their top four scorers from year’s 26-9 NCAA Tournament team that won eleven Big East games and finished sixth in the conference. Perhaps the Bearcats have rested on their laurels a bit too much as they have disappointed in the early going, sitting at 4-2 including a 56-54 loss to Presbyterian. For Cincinnati to be successful they need to feed the beast, 6’9″ 260-pound center Yancy Gates (14.2 PPG, 9.3 RPG), and work inside out to open up the three-guard attack of Sean Kilpatrick (13.8), Dion Dixon (12.5 PPG), and Cashmere Wright (10.0 PPG). Part of Cincinnati’s early issues lie in the fact that Dixon and Wright are lagging last years scoring pace (17.0 and 16.5 PPG, respectively).
Like Georgia, Cincinnati will use the shot clock on offense and play tough on defense, where they are allowing just 53 points per game. Cincinnati should have the horses to prevail in this one, especially if Gates gets consistent touches.
Prediction: Cincinnati 64, Georgia 54