- Saturday, January 6 2001 -
Georgia - 63 (Head Coach: Jim Harrick) - [Unranked]
Kentucky - 67 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Unranked]
|J. P. Blevins||16||3||5||2||4||0||0||0||1||1||0||1||0||0||1||8|
Halftime Score: Kentucky 38, Georgia 29
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Louisville 64 - 62|||||South Carolina 69 - 63|
Game Writeup - Written by and courtesy of Jeff Drummond; Kentucky Sports Report, (All Rights Reserved)
UK edges UGA, 67-63
LEXINGTON, Ky. --- For more than 33 minutes here Saturday, Kentucky had done everything it needed to do to earn a comfortable win over Georgia.
Then came the final seven minutes of the Southeastern Conference opener at Rupp Arena, which was anything but cozy for the Wildcats.
Georgia held Kentucky without a field goal over the final 6:43 and whittled a 14-point deficit down to two with 11 seconds remaining. After the Cats' Gerald Fitch hit one of two free throws, the Bulldogs had a chance to tie the game, but D.A. Layne unintentionally drifted inside the 3-point arc and missed a challenged jumper with three seconds left.
Tayshaun Prince grabbed the rebound for Kentucky and hit a free throw with :00.8 on the clock to seal a hard-fought 67-63 victory for the Cats.
"We got the lead and kind of thought the game was over," Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said. "Every possession you've got to be energized and play harder.
"I got a little tight there when we turned it over a few times and missed some open shots. We didn't get the job done at the free throw line, either. I've just got to try to be more patient. We're happy with the win."
Prince scored 12 points and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds to lead Kentucky (7-5, 1-0 SEC) to its 15th straight win over Georgia (7-7, 0-1). The Bulldogs have lost 22 of the last 23 against UK and saw their record drop to 2-50 all time in Lexington.
"It was a game that we had a great opportunity to come in here and steal one," Georgia coach Jim Harrick said. "We just didn't play quite good enough."
The Cats also got 12 points and seven rebounds from sophomore forward Marquis Estill off the bench, but it was a team defensive effort against Layne, the SEC's sixth-leading scorer, that highlighted the victory. The Georgia guard was only 5-for-12 from the field and finished with 13 points and six turnovers.
Layne scored just five points in the game's final 34 minutes, thanks to tight defense by Fitch, initially, then by the 6-9 Prince late in the contest.
"When he gets 19 to 20 points, they usually win," Smith said. "We held him below his average (16.4), and that's one of the things we knew we had to do to give ourselves a chance."
"They did a nice job on him," Harrick said. "Putting Prince on him made D.A. shoot the ball a little differently. There were only about two or three times that I thought he looked for his shot instead of waiting for it to come."
The first half featured four ties and four lead changes before Kentucky put together a timely run. Prince and reserve point guard Cliff Hawkins scored all the points in a 11-2 run to close the half and give the Cats a 38-29 advantage. Backup guard J.P. Blevins also gave UK a boost, scoring all of his season-high eight points before the intermission.
"I was very happy for J.P.," Smith said. "He's been working real hard in practice, and he stepped up when we needed him to tonight."
The Cats opened the second half with an 8-2 run, including five points by Fitch, to seemingly take control with a 46-31 lead. But Georgia would not go quiety, relying on a strong interior offense and offensive rebounding to hang within striking distance.
A Saul Smith 3-pointer at the 6:43 mark proved to be Kentucky's final basket, and the Bulldogs chipped away with the help of a three-point play by Anthony Evans and a 3-pointer by Rashad Wright. Shon Coleman also had a pair of inside baskets in the final 86 seconds, but Georgia couldn't covert the basket it needed most.
"I like our resolve. I like the fact that we dug down and came back," Harrick said. "I think that we would have won if we had about five more minutes, but every losing coach thinks that. I like the way we played. I like our grit. I like our tenacity, but we didn't play quite good enough to win.
"The bottom line is that Kentucky had enough resolve to win the game. We thought that if we could come in here and hold Bogans and Prince to under 15 points that we would have a chance to win, and we did that, but still didn't win."
Evans paced the Bulldogs with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Coleman added nine points before fouling out on the game's final sequence.
Kentucky returns to action Wednesday at home against South Carolina. The Gamecocks face Florida on Sunday in Columbia, S.C.
Gerald Fitch gets tangled up with Georgia's Shon Coleman and loses the ball
Jason Parker (#42) shoots over Georgia's Robb Dryden (#34)