Last season, when Trey Thompkins didn’t play well, neither did Georgia. This year, due to the additions of Gerald Robinson, Marcus Thornton and improved play from Jeremy Price, Chris Barnes and Dustin Ware, the offense wasn’t dependent on Thompkins.
But when Thompkins was forced to the bench early in the first half with two fouls, Georgia reverted back to last seasons swoon looking completely lost and out of rhythm without their Preseason All-SEC player, shooting a meagre 7-21 from the field including 0-4 from range. Georgia’s defense wasn’t much better, as the Cat’s shot over 51% from the field including 6-12 from deep. When you factor in 8 turnovers and getting out-rebounded, albeit by one rebound, the 39-24 lead for Kentucky was very reflective of the action on the court.
However, the second half showed much more of the rhythm and fight Georgia fans have come to expect from Fox’s Bulldogs. Despite a very poor night from Leslie, who went 0-7 from the field, and Thompkins, who was battling a shin injury, Dustin Ware’s composure and confidence kept Georgia in the game. Ware’s brilliant display offensively cut the lead down to six with two minutes to play. Georgia had a few opportunities to cut the lead further, and really test the patience of the restless Rupp crowd, but Thompkins’ poor shooting down the stretch didn’t allow the team to capitalize and Kentucky came away with a 66-60 victory.
Coach Fox called the game “a hard-fought conference game” and gave credit to Kentucky for withstanding Georgia’s second-half run. Fox said he was worried about his team’s energy after their double-overtime loss to Florida, and his fears were confirmed before the first official timeout, as Fox burned a timeout early to refocus the team.
At halftime it appeared Georgia found that focus and the Bulldogs came out concentrating on defense and rebounding. Guards Gerald Robinson and Ware got into a groove in the second half and combined for half of the teams 60. Fox was pleased with the tandem for overcoming the poor night from their top-two scorers but added, “We need more guys completing plays for us to be good.”
Late in the game, Georgia had several opportunities to bring the game to a one-possession contest but fell short. “We got within striking distance but we just couldn’t strike,” Fox said.
Part of that was due to Thompkins’ off night shooting. Though Thompkins denied his injury playing any role is his poor shooting night, just 2-10 from the field, his shot seemed to be falling short especially late in the game. Ware agreed with Thompkins’ assessment of his injury, saying a tough guy like Thompkins won’t let something like that effect him.
Though Georgia sit at just 3-4 in the SEC, they’re scheule has been one of the toughest in the conference. With several slumping SEC West teams coming up on the schedule, as well as two contests against South Carolina, Georgia will have plenty of time to put games like this behind them and get on a roll for the spring.
Georgia will be hoping that the second half of this game was a sign of things to come for the second half of the SEC schedule.