No. 22 Kentucky rolls past Georgia

By Darrell Bird, The Sports Xchange  |  Feb. 10, 2016 at 2:12 AM
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LEXINGTON, Ky. -- With only eight games remaining in the regular season, including showdowns with league leaders LSU, Texas A&M and South Carolina looming, No. 22 Kentucky needed to build momentum with a strong performance against Georgia on Tuesday night.

The Wildcats did just that with an 82-48 victory at Rupp Arena.

"We end the game with seven turnovers, you're not losing many games," Kentucky coach John Calipari said. "Overall, the way we shot the ball, the way we moved the ball. It was a good effort and one of our better efforts this year."

The victim of that bad timing was Georgia.

"Obviously, we got our whooped at both ends," Georgia coach Mark Fox said. "But I think Kentucky is playing their best basketball right now."

Kentucky (18-6, 8-3 SEC), fresh off a 19-point rout of Florida last weekend, opened up a 42-24 halftime advantage over the Bulldogs (13-9, 6-5) by sizzling at the start and end of the first 20 minutes.

The Wildcats jumped on top 24-13 during the first nine minutes by hitting nine of 11 shots, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range.

After a dry spell midway through the half when UK went 6:32 without a point, the Wildcats caught fire to outscore Georgia 14-2 over the last four minutes for the 18-point advantage.

Kentucky shot 56.7 percent in the first half, hitting 17 of 30. Freshman guard Jamal Murray had 13 points. Sophomore guard Tyer Ulis added nine.

For Georgia, the entire first half was a nightmare. The Bulldogs went the final 13:37 without a field goal, missing 17 shots in a row. They ended the half shooting only 20 percent, hitting 5-of-25. Georgia made 13-of-16 at the free-throw line to keep within shouting distance. Sophomore forward Yante Maten had eight points.

Not much changed in the second half, as Kentucky opened with a 10-0 run to lead 52-24. Georgia's futility continued with five more missed field goals to stretch the streak to 22 in a row.

"There were some bad shots in there. There were some good shots in there," Fox said. "There were a couple of great shots in there that just didn't go down. It just snowballed on us and we could never recover."

All told, Kentucky held the Bulldogs to 17:57 without a field goal before a Charles Mann layup ended the drought with 15:36 remaining, but UK had still doubled Georgia 52-26.

"A lot of our issues defensively was because we had shifted to really work on our offense because I thought our offense a month ago was just pitiful," Calipari said. "Now we're back playing defense, and if you walked in our practice, you're not seeing us play much offense. We're really working on our team defense, the ability to fight through a possession, to finish off a possession, to scramble, to not only play your man, play one more, the stuff we normally teach here."

Murray led Kentucky with 24 points. That follows his 35-point effort in Saturday's win over Florida. Over the last two games, Murray has made 14 of 20 3-point attempts. He was 6-for-10 against Georgia.

"He's getting better," Calipari said. "He had the one baseline flip, he could not help himself. It's like crack cocaine; I've gotta do this. And he flipped it under, had no chance of making it. But he's getting better. He's trying. He's getting better defensively."

Sophomore guard Tyler Ulis added 14 points and eight assists while junior forward Derek Willis had 11 points and six rebounds.

"Tyler doesn't get enough credit," Willis said of Ulis. "Without him, we're not a Top 25 team. We're probably not even a .500 team."

Georgia shot only 22 percent for the game, 5-for-25 in the first half, 6-for-25 in the second. Sophomore forward Yante Maten led the Bulldogs with 16 points.

Kentucky returns to action Saturday to take on South Carolina. But they will be without senior forward Alex Poythress for the third straight game. A knee issue will keep him sidelined about two weeks, according to Calipari.

Georgia travels to Mississippi State on Saturday.

NOTES: Kentucky has won 82 percent of the games it has played against Georgia, a 120-26 record. The Wildcats are 59-5 in Lexington. ... Jamal Murray's 35 points Saturday against Florida tied Terrence Jones for the most ever by a freshman at Kentucky. ... UK PG Tyler Ulis has the best assist-to-turnover ratio in the SEC at plus-3.2. ... Kentucky pushed its home win streak to 34, second longest in the history of Rupp Arena, which opened in 1976.

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