The Georgia Bulldogs (13-9) were a J.J. Frazier floater away from stunning the #8 Kentucky (18-4) Wildcats on their home floor and giving Coach Calipari his first ever three-game losing streak as the team’s skipper. But J.J.’s shot drew all glass (similarly to the Florida game) and sent the game into overtime, where the Dawgs simply ran out of magic. The Cats overpowered Georgia in the extra 5 minutes and snapped its two-game losing streak by pulling out the 90-81 home win.
What went well for Georgia…
The Dawgs were at their best at the beginning and end of regulation. Coach Mark Fox could not have scripted a better start for this game as his team jumped out to a 12-0 lead after barely 3 minutes of play. Kentucky came out and tried to play the Dawgs in man defense and that just didn’t work. Yante Maten scored the game’s first 7 points, and 4 of those came in the paint over the Cats’ Bam Adebayo. The Dawgs connected on 9 of their first 10 field goals and held a 19-5 lead with 14:07 left before the break.
UGA played equally strong over the latter stretch of regulation. With just 6:26 remaining and the Cats leading 66-58, the game started to feel as though it was slipping away for Georgia. But the Dawgs would not relent. Frazier scored 9 points over the last 6 minutes, making off-balanced lay ups and hitting an off the dribble three-pointer to bring his team within 2 points. Freshman Jordan Harris stepped up as well and made an old-fashioned three-point play and later hit a shot from beyond the arc with 1:56 left that actually put the Dawgs up 73-71.
What didn’t go well for Georgia…
Coach Cal realized quickly that his team was struggling to defend Georgia in man, so he switch them into zone so that the bigs could double down on Maten whenever he touched it in the paint. The result: Maten went scoreless over the final 18 minutes of play before the intermission and the Dawgs made only 3 of their final 15 shots from the floor. After scoring 12 points before Big Blue Nation could find its seats, Georgia managed just 17 points over the final 16:48 of the half.
UGA failed to limit Kentucky to just one shot for much of the night. Despite opening up a huge lead to begin the game, Georgia and Kentucky went into the break knotted up at 29 apiece because the Dawgs could not defensive rebound. The Cats shot just 29% from the floor before halftime, but thanks to 11 offensive boards that led to 13 second chance points, they were able to claw their way back into the game. Before it was all said and done, Kentucky would have 17 offensive rebounds and a whopping 24 second chance points.
Georgia’s matchup zone worked well for much of the night, but occasionally superstars just take over, and that’s exactly what happened inside Rupp Arena last evening. Malik Monk, who only scored 6 points prior to the intermission, scorched the Dawgs for 31 over the final 25 minutes of this one. Monk hit 7 three-pointers on the evening, many of which were with a hand in his face. And it was Monk who delivered the contested baseline jumper over the outstretched arms of Derek Ogbeide to tie the game at 76, which forced this contest into overtime.
The other Wildcat that UGA failed to corral was Isaiah Briscoe, who has to be one of the most physical guards in the country. Briscoe tirelessly pounded the ball inside and got himself to the line, where he scored 11 of his 23 points. In addition to the offense, the Cats’ point guard hauled in a team-high 11 rebounds. Ultimately, Monk and Briscoe were too much for Georgia to handle in Lexington, and I shudder to think of how UGA will match up with this Kentucky team when they come to Athens with the services of starter De’aaron Fox, who was out last night with a stomach bug.
Maten and Ogbeide played great, scoring 22 and 18, respectively. Ogbeide also snagged 13 boards en route to a double-double. These two dominated the inside on offense, and they really forced Calipari to change the way he wanted to defend the Dawgs.
Frazier had kind of a tough game until the final moments, but he did end up with a gutty 23 points, though it came at the expense of an 8 for 21 shooting effort.
But credit Coach Fox’s team for putting up a heck of a fight against a top 10 team in a building where they lost by 34 points a year ago.