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.
Welcome to magnificent Rupp Arena where, in about thirty minutes, Georgia will attempt to upset Kentucky again, this time on the road. Georgia is 14-5 overall, 3-3 in the SEC, and have yet to put back-to-back wins together in SEC play. Theoretically, this may bode well for Georgia who come off a double-overtime loss to Florida. However, Georgia hasn’t played all that well in hostile territory (Ole Miss doesn’t count as hostile), looking flat at Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech.
Rupp Arena is about 2/3rds full but a sellout is, as usual, expected.
It’s the usual starters for Georgia: Ware, Robinson, Leslie, Thompkins and Price.
UK goes with Knight, Miller, Liggins, Harrelson and Jones. Lineup introductions complete with fireworks. The Cats win the tip, and we’re off.
Update 15:44: First play of the game, Georgia gives up an open three to Darius Miller who drains it. The Cats start out in the press and it gives Georgia a bit of trouble and they turn it over. Robinson picks up a cheap foul on Knight — Georgia can’t afford to lose him early like they did against Florida. Robinson with a quick move in the lane for a layup. UK looks to be pushing the tempo thus far, making quick plays offensively and pressing hard on defense. Georgia has not handled it well at all, with three turnovers already. With UK on a 9-2 run quickly, Coach Fox is forced to take a timeout.
Dustin Ware ends the skid with a jumper but Darius Miller makes a very athletic layup to maintain the lead. Georgia almost turns it over again but luckily the possession arrow is pointing their way. At the first official timeout, it’s 11-4 Kentucky.
Update 11:56: Fox looks to slow down the pace of the game by switching to the zone defensively. While effective, UK get the rebound and Knight hits a three. Trey finally gets on the board and is fouled and gets the three point play. Georgia has looked better of late, but good shooting from Brandon Knight has kept the UK lead. Georgia will have to keep improving to chip away at the lead. 19-11 Cats.
Update 7:53: Getting Trey the ball in the paint has been the best way for Georgia to get points. It’s going to be very difficult for anyone on the Cats to matchup well with Trey. Unfortunately, they’ve been doing a good job of denying him the ball — he’s faced constant double teams — and forcing Georgia’s other players to score, which hasn’t fared well so far.
Meanwhile, Kentucky has continued to find ways to score. They’re getting to the lane with relative ease and shooting extremely well. Georgia still down 24-14.
Update 3:48: Very bad news for Georgia as Thompkins is forced to the bench with two fouls . Donte Williams comes into replace him. Gerald Robinson takes the initial responsibility to score, making a quick layup. On the next possession, however, Georgia looked lost.
Wild Leslie jumper, Robinson missed three and a charge on Dustin Ware. Ugh. On the other end, it looks like it’s Doron Lamb’s turn to starting shooting as he hits another three with brings Rupp Arena to it’s feet. The Cats are fired up and Darius Miller is heading to the FT line after this timeout. It’s now 32-18 Cats.
As feared, it’s getting bad. The Cats keep pouring it on, particularly Doron Lamb and the Dawgs look utterly lost offensively. There’s no sense of rhythm, poor passing and poor shot selection. Rebounding hasn’t been great either. At halftime, it’s 39-24.
Some ugly stats from Georgia in that half. 8-22 from the field, 0-4 from three, 8 turnovers and were out-rebounded. Add that up, and you usually get a scoreline like this one. Lets hope Georgia can turn it around this half.
Update 14:43: Georgia came out from the second half making three straight baskets, which would be good if Kentucky didn’t do the same thing. But following that exchange of baskets, it does appear UK has taken their foot off the gas a bit. They’ve missed a few shots and Jeremy Price has made some great moves in the paint to bring Georgia within 12. Following another UK miss, Georgia will take the ball out of bounds with 6 seconds left on the shot clock and an opportunity to cut the lead back to single digits. 48-36 Kentucky.
Update 11:25 While Georgia look to have improved rhythm in the second-half, particularly coming from Jeremy Price, The Cats have still managed to maintain a 12-point lead despite going cold from the three-point line. Georgia with some more work to do, down 50-38.
Update 7:05 Dustin Ware is absolutely carrying Georgia at the moment. He’s leading the team with 15 points and despite off nights from Trey and Travis (combined 1-8) Georgia has managed to but the lead to eight points. They’re playing better than Kentucky right now, but will it be enough to cover the hole created at halftime? Georgia down 53-45
Update: Final Sorry for the lack of updates down the stretch. Lot going on here in Rupp. Dustin Ware’s brilliant display cut the lead down to 6 points with 2 minutes left and with a couple of opportunities to cut the lead even further, Georgia, and Trey Thompkins in particular, couldn’t capitalize. After a series of fouls and threes, the game ended 66-60 Kentucky. More coming.