Short-handed Georgia loses at #14 Kentucky

When teams go into Rupp Arena to take on the Kentucky Wildcats, they typically like to be at full strength. Unfortunately, that was not the case for Georgia (10-8; 4-2) on Saturday as Coach Mark Fox’s squad played without the services of Kenny Gaines and Juwan Parker. Gaines, who was dealing with a deep leg bruise, is one of UGA’s leading scorers at 12 points per game, and the freshman Parker has already started a handful of games this season.

Georgia got down big in the first half after a relentless 13-0 Kentucky run that ran the score up to 25-10 following a Derek Willis layup with 5:46 remaining before intermission. At this point, it appeared that the Cats were on the verge of delivering a knockout blow and putting the game out of reach.

To the Dawgs’ credit however, UGA fought back. Brandon Morris scored 8 of his team-leading 15 points over the next 5-plus minutes, and Georgia went into the break trailing Kentucky 34-22.

While Georgia was unable to reclaim the lead in this game, they did get to within 6 points after a pair of free throws from Charles Mann trimmed the UK advantage to 37-31 with 16:19 left int he game.

Eventually, Kentucky’s talent became too much and the Cats pushed the lead out to 63-39 following a 12-0 run. With only 6 minutes remaining in the contest, Coach Cal’s team would cruise for the remainder of the game, earning the 79-54 victory.

Despite the fact that UK seemingly ran one 7-footer into the game after another, Georgia still battled strongly on the boards, out-rebounding Kentucky by a count of 35-32.

Kentucky’s strategy on Charles Mann – which was basically to have him facing pressure from the moment he received the ball under his own goal – served to wear down the sophomore, who only just 9 points on a 1 of 9 shooting performance from the floor.

Other than Morris, the only UGA player to score in double-digits was Marcus Thornton, who finished with 10 points and 9 rebounds while shooting just 2 of 10 on field goals. At the risk of sounding like a broken record I will say this again: if Thornton could ever start finishing consistently around the rim he would score 15+ points a night.

To be fair, it was a tough shooting night for the entire Bulldog team as they connected on less than 33% of their field goals. In addition to the poor shooting, Georgia committed 20 turnovers inside Rupp, a credit to the Cats’ defensive intensity.

Kentucky had four players finish in double-figures in scoring with freshman Aaron Harrison leading the way with 15 points.

The bottom line is that UK’s lineup and bench is full of McDonald’s All-Americans and four-star recruits, and Georgia’s roster doesn’t include either of those. When Kentucky is this talented it is difficult for a team like UGA to hang around for 40 minutes, especially when playing without the services of one of their leading scorers.

The silver lining in all of this is that the Dawgs managed to split conference games again this week, and if they can continue to produce similar results they should end up with a winning SEC record.

Georgia gets Vanderbilt at home on Wednesday – a team that will be coming off of its first conference road win, following a 66-55 victory at Texas A&M.

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8 thoughts on “Short-handed Georgia loses at #14 Kentucky

  1. When we play top 20 teams like Kentucky and Florida, it is obvious we don’t have the players to compete at anywhere near their level. The players put forth the effort, but ultimately talent trumps desire. There is no indication that the talent will improve in the coming years. The top recruits have consistently turned down offers.

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      1. Experienced at losing? They will be better, but not by much since we still do not have enough big men. We would need to pickup a JUCO guy which will be very hard to find. Cannon and Dixon have not developed and Donte is gone. Thornton has certainly improved, but he is not a scorer yet, if ever. His foul shot looks better each game. Fox benched Frazier yesterday after a stupid turnover. JJ is supposed to be shooter. We could have used him. Have to cut freshmen a little slack on mistakes.

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  2. Don’t get me wrong because I’m not defending the lack of recruiting or the wasting of slots on non-developing big guys. But I do believe the team has the potential to be pretty good next year. Fox experimented a lot in pre-season trying to integrate the new guys whom he was going to need into the flow and it cost us record wise. We could certainly use a JUCO beast in the post if any such animals were available. But I was more optimistic about Thornton’s development than just about anyone on this blog. I am also optimistic about the scoring potential of Forte if, that is, he learns to play as hard at the other end of the floor, and I believe that Juwan Parker is going to morph into a very fine player. We have too many non contributors, however, and Fox doesn’t seem to have the inclination that Felton had to run such folks off. If next year’s team does not make some noise with the experience it will have, even a patient guy like myself will be calling for a change. I like the guy, but 6 years to build a program in an area with superb basketball talent is way more than enough.

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  3. Tough loss. Kind of figured it would go that way when I saw that Kenny and Juwan were out. I’m actually happy with the way the team is playing since league play started. They have a long way to go but they’ve improved a ton. I think they can win 10+ SEC games. Let’s say they win 11, that gets them to 17-13. That’s improvement over last season with everyone coming back except Donte. I think we would have a good shot at a tourney bid next year if that pans out.

    Get a bid and have a good season then you could be talking about getting some momentum as Gaines, Mann, and Morris would be seniors the following season. That doesn’t seem that big of a long shot to me and I’ve come to realize that’s about what I can expect for UGA basketball. I wish it were different but if we can get to the tourney once every three years I’m good with that. Of course, I’d love us to turn the program into what Florida has but that’s not my expectation.

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  4. What I see when I watch top teams is that the players are often willing to pull the trigger with a man in their face. I know it’s unlikely we’d hit, but I’d like to see a try once and a while. Mann had a poor day. If he can get where he doesn’t slam the ball off the backboard so the bounce is back three feet, he’ll be amazing. Plus, he seems at a total loss how to find the range on free throws. We tried to thread too many tight passes for KU’s long arms. Cannon didn’t look ready. Dixon not much more. But I wasn’t so bummed. The fight-back to within 6 was good, but then the cold shooting/turnover thing would erupt again and it was over. I’d love to see us take Ole Miss and Tennessee and come 3rd in the conference. That would be real improvement.

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