College Hoops Player of the Day for Thursday, March 7, 2013
The Kentucky Wildcats may have finally played themselves right out of the NCAA tournament, losing badly in a critical spot, at unranked Georgia, 72-62.
The Wildcats dropped their second straight game and fourth of their last seven. Beyond Thursday night's loss, they host #11 Florida as they wrap up their regular season. Kentucky is 11-6 in the SEC, but sinking fast.
From the opposite perspective, the Bulldogs have been playing better of late, winning three of their last four, their only loss a 63-62 defeat at Vanderbilt last week.
Georgia's fate may be improved or denied dependent on how they fare in their season finale, when Alabama comes calling on Saturday, and how well they perform in the SEC tourney. The Bulldogs have reached respectability with a 9-8 conference mark, but a couple of wins in the post-season would go a long way toward receiving an NCAA bid as the selection committee will be taking five - possibly six - teams from the SEC.
Georgia was led by 6'5" sophomore, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who didn't shoot very well, making just six of 19 shots from the field, including going 2-for-7 from the three-point line, but he made up for his misses at the foul line, where he was 10-for-11. He also was a major factor on the boards, where he swiped 10 rebounds, three on the offensive end. His 24-point, 10-rebound effort was Caldwell-Pope's sixth double-double of the season.
NOTABLE: When a team wins by 15 points and shoots 37%, there's a good bet that the game was a Big Ten match-up, and an even better chance that the winner was Michigan State, where toughness and defense are core principles of coach Tom Izzo's success. The #10 Spartans absolutely spanked #22 Wisconsin, 58-43, holding the Badgers to just 29% from the field and 17% (4-for-23) from beyond the arc.
The game wasn't even as close as the score indicates. after 30 minutes of play, the Badgers were still in the 20s, and only Michigan State relaxing with a huge lead made the score respectable.