- Sunday, January 18 2009 -
Kentucky - 68 (Head Coach: Billy Gillispie) - [Unranked]
|A. J. Stewart||7||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||0||0||1||1||0|
Georgia - 45 (Head Coach: Dennis Felton) - [Unranked]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 38, Georgia 19
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Tennessee 90 - 72|||||Auburn 73 - 64|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
Cats rough up Georgia, go 3-0 in SEC play
ATHENS, Ga. - Sensing his team may be at a pivotal point of the conference season Billy Gillispie spent the post-Tennessee portion of the week pounding a workmanlike refrain into his players' heads.
Kentucky received the message loud and clear as it beat Georgia at its own game, manhandling the Bulldogs in a 68-45 demolition in front of a pro-UK crowd of 9,090 fans at Stegeman Coliseum. The matter-of-fact victory capped a week where the Cats routed Southeastern Conference favorite Tennessee on their home court and then did the same to Georgia.
"Coach said it was a great win," forward Patrick Patterson said. "We had a lot of people trying to blow up our heads and tell us we are a lot better than Tennessee and everyone had picked Tennessee to finish first. He thought maybe that would get in our heads a little bit and throw us off our game so he said this would be a really big game and determine a lot for us. He didn't want us to throw (the Tennessee game) away.
The Cats made sure that wasn't going to happen right from the opening tip. Drawing strength from a partisan UK crowd the Cats jumped on a Georgia team that had lost four straight games 7-0 in the first two minutes. Ten minutes in the lead was 16-4 and ballooned to 38-16 just before the half, the perfect response to Gillispie's practice challenge.
Known for a physical, bruising brand of basketball Georgia had bullied UK in three meeting last season, including an upset win for the Bulldogs in the SEC Tournament. Hell bent on proving they were the tougher team UK got on the floor and in Georgia's shorts early and often. By the time Michael Porter fought off three Bulldogs on the floor for a defensive rebound and fed Darius Miller - who in turn found Kevin Galloway on the break who dished to Patterson for a short jumper to cap an 18-3 spurt - the Bulldogs were shooting a miserable 7-of-29 from the field and 1-of-11 from long range.
"Those are my kind of teams," Gillispie said. "We were gritty, hard nosed and defended almost every perimeter shot they took. I thought we did a great job defensively from the word go. We knew they were going to be very physical but we were able to do some things in transition with run outs and we were able to force some turnovers for the first time in awhile and that gave us the chance for some easy baskets. Our defense was really good from start to finish."
Georgia was still sitting under 30 percent from the field until stroking three meaningless jumpers in the final four minutes of the game, a testament to UK's ability to keep its relentless pressure and hustle up for the duration of a second road contest in as many outings.
"I thought we came in here and played really hard," guard Jodie Meeks, who led UK with 22 points, said. "The past couple of days Coach Gillispie was stressing that in order to win we were going to have to do all the small things. They hustle, they scrap and they do whatever it takes to beat you so us coming in here and playing hard helped us win."
The Cats did all of those 'little things' that end up being so big in this one. During one particularly helter-skelter sequence late in the game Meeks jumped the passing lane on the wing and deflected the ball toward UK's bench at the other end of the floor. Without breaking stride he took off and saved the ball behind his back as he flew into UK assistant coach Jeremy Cox's lap. The save found Patterson in stride at midcourt and the big man hustled the ball up the court and drew a foul.
It was the perfect visual aid to define the Cats' effort.
"I saw a million things I liked," Gillispie said. "The two passes Jodie made to finish breaks. The hustle play Jodie made, you can't get that ball, it's impossible and he got that ball and then your other best player is hustling because he believed Jodie could get it and yet there is no way you can get that ball.
"We've got a long ways to go to be where I want to be but I saw a lot of things I like."
Patrick Patterson dunks
Darius Miller (#1) shoots over Georgia's Chris Barnes (#4)
Jodie Meeks (#23) drives around Corey Butler