In one night, Georgia snapped a 14-game losing streak to Kentucky while simultaneously putting together a two-game SEC win streak of their own. The Dawgs closed out the game on a 7-0 run that ended with an off-balanced layup from P.J. Horne as time was winding down.
Here are some observations from Wednesday’s win over Kentucky:
- Georgia’s offense and defense switched roles on Wednesday
Coming into tonight’s game against the Kentucky Wildcats, UGA’s offense was one of the more efficient ones in the conference:
Yet on Wednesday night in Athens, it was the defense that carried Georgia over the Cats. For the most part, this game was fairly offensively-challenged for both teams. The Dawgs hit less than 39% from the floor and made only 4 of 12 from beyond the arc. Georgia point guard Sahvir Wheeler finished with just 10 points on a 4 of 15 shooting effort from the field. Wheeler, who is the catalyst for this team, consistently found himself surrounded by Kentucky bigs in the paint on penetration, which led to the sophomore taking an array of out of control shots around the rim. Georgia’s other big scorer, Toumani Camara, was basically a non-factor as he netted just 6 points and attempted only 4 shots.
The UGA defense, however, was a completely different story. Playing primarily man for much of the night, Georgia occupied the passing lanes and forced Kentucky into 17 turnovers, which the Dawgs promptly turned into 25 points (nearly 40% of the Georgia offensive output). With Kentucky up 62-56 with 2:02 left in the game, UGA’s defense pitched a shutout for the remainder, and that enabled Tom Crean’s team to have the opportunity to win at the end.
2. The turnover story got reversed as well
The Dawgs entered this contest leading the SEC with over 18 turnovers a night in conference play. By halftime, UGA had just 6 giveaways, and they would finish the game with 11. Kentucky scored 11 points off turnovers, but the +6 turnover differential in Georgia’s favor might have made the difference in the outcome of this game. Justin Kier led the game with 5 steals and helped to disrupt the flow of an anemic Kentucky offense, and UGA ended up taking 10 more field goals attempts than the Cats.
3. Thank goodness for grad transfers
The obvious hero of the night was P.J. Horne, who took a low inbounds pass from Wheeler with 3.6 seconds lefts and put it off the glass and in for the UGA victory. Horne’s ability to find his way to the rim was definitely abetted by the Kentucky defender’s disinterest in going after the ball when P.J. bobbled it; however, Georgia was the more aggressive team for much of the night, so this end seemed fitting.
Andrew Garcia played probably his best conference game of the season to date. The wily veteran took advantage of the inexperienced Kentucky bigs as Garcia used his body to make himself available near the rim the entire game. Garcia led all UGA scorers with 16 points to go along with 6 boards, and he displayed some nice back-to-the-basket scoring skills on the block. The senior definitely yields height in every contest, but Garcia’s wide body help to compensate for that lack of size on Wednesday against Kentucky.