Gary B. Graves
AP Sports Writer
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky usually found the basket, while Georgia often emerged frustrated when it shot.
So explains a surprisingly easy victory for the 22nd-ranked Wildcats.
Jamal Murray scored 24 points, Tyler Ulis added 14 and Kentucky held Georgia to a season-low 22 percent shooting to coast to an 82-48 victory Tuesday night.
Picking up where he left off after a career-best 35 points on Saturday against Florida, Murray made 8 of 14 from the field including 6 of 10 from 3-point range. His accuracy helped spur the Wildcats (18-6, 8-3 Southeastern Conference) to 52 percent shooting against a Bulldogs team that entered as the nation’s No. 6 team and SEC leader in field goal defense.
“We just made shots,” Murray said after his ninth 20-point game this season. “We were just going at them and being the aggressor. I really didn’t think I was that hot tonight. I had a couple of shots not go down.”
Georgia (13-9, 6-5), on the other hand, couldn’t get many shots to fall as its two-game winning streak ended. The Bulldogs closed the first half on an 0-for-17 drought and began the second half with five more misses in a basket-less stretch that nearly reached 18 minutes spanning halftime.
By the time Bulldogs guard Charles Mann (nine points) made a layup with 15:40 remaining, they trailed by 26 points and things only went downhill as the deficit reached 37 points in the final minutes. That says a lot about Kentucky’s defense, which posted a season low in points allowed and held an opponent below 30 percent for the first time since last spring’s NCAA Tournament rout of West Virginia (24 percent).
“There were some great shots that didn’t go down,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said. “It snowballed on us.”
Yante Maten’s 16 points led the Bulldogs, whose upside was making 23 of 27 at the free throw line.
Derek Willis made three 3-pointers for 11 points for Kentucky, which won its second straight since blowing a 21-point lead in a loss at Tennessee. The Wildcats were more dominant than Saturday’s bounce-back rout of Florida, even though they were outrebounded 36-34. They did gain a 24-20 edge on the defensive glass.
Kentucky won despite playing its second straight game without forward Alex Poythress, whom coach John Calipari said afterward would miss two weeks with a right knee injury. He wasn’t specific about the type of injury.
The Wildcats still went on to top Georgia 28-14 in the paint and 22-11 in bench points.
“It was us and them both,” Calipari said. “Now, we are back playing defense. We are really working on our team defense. … If you make it an emphasis, they will do it. I thought we did some good things when they tried to throw it in the post.”
The Wildcats sandwiched a hot start and finish around a 6-minute drought to lead 42-24 at the break behind 57 percent shooting. Georgia shot just 20 percent and got more two points off 13 free throws than they got from the field.
WATCH YOUR STEP
Rupp Arena’s so-called “Dancing Guy” has entertained fans for years with his wild gyrations and even wilder outfits during timeouts. But Tuesday night’s routine took a scary turn when he dropped a young girl who joined him to dance on the steps. After sliding down one rail, he picked the girl up and slid down another rail with her in his arms before slipping and falling down several stairs, landing on top of her as spectators gasped. However, neither Dancing Guy nor his partner was injured.
Georgia: The Bulldogs committed 15 turnovers leading to 15 Kentucky points. They managed just one basket from seven Wildcats turnovers.
Kentucky: Ulis followed his career-best 11 assists against Florida with eight against the Bulldogs. … Skal Labissiere had six points and a team-high seven rebounds before fouling out but drew a cheer in the first half when he tied up Maten grabbing an offensive rebound and both players fell backward to the court. … Kentucky shot at least 50 percent for the fifth time in six games.
Georgia: Visits Mississippi State on Saturday.
Kentucky: Visits South Carolina on Saturday.
GEORGIA (13-9) – Maten 4-14 8-8 16, Geno 0-0 0-0 0, Mann 2-4 5-6 9, Gaines 3-12 0-0 8, Frazier 0-8 4-4 4, Jackson II 1-2 2-2 5, Wilridge 0-0 0-0 0, Iduwe 0-1 2-3 2, Kessler 0-1 0-0 0, Edwards 0-2 0-0 0, Ogbeide 1-6 2-4 4. Totals 11-50 23-27 48.
KENTUCKY (18-6) – Lee 2-2 0-1 4, Willis 4-8 0-0 11, Ulis 6-11 2-3 14, Briscoe 2-6 3-8 7, Murray 8-14 2-2 24, Labissiere 3-9 0-0 6, Matthews 2-2 3-4 7, David 0-0 0-0 0, Mulder 0-0 0-0 0, Humphries 0-1 0-0 0, Floreal 0-0 0-0 0, Hawkins 2-3 4-4 9. Totals 29-56 14-22 82.
Halftime_Kentucky 42-24. 3-Point Goals_Georgia 3-11 (Gaines 2-5, Jackson II 1-2, Frazier 0-4), Kentucky 10-21 (Murray 6-10, Willis 3-7, Hawkins 1-1, Labissiere 0-1, Ulis 0-2). Fouled Out_Frazier, Humphries, Labissiere. Rebounds_Georgia 36 (Maten 11), Kentucky 34 (Labissiere 7). Assists_Georgia 5 (Frazier, Geno, Jackson II, Kessler, Mann 1), Kentucky 13 (Ulis 8). Total Fouls_Georgia 20, Kentucky 20. A_22,136.