Georgia 78, Kentucky 69, OT
ATHENS, Ga. (AP)—Takais Brown scored 20 points, Sundiata Gaines had 19 and Georgia overcame a 17-point deficit to hand Kentucky its second straight Southeastern Conference loss, beating the Wildcats 78-69 in overtime Wednesday night.
Georgia (12-6, 4-2 SEC) bounced back from a discouraging loss Saturday at Alabama. In that one, the Bulldogs squandered a 19-point lead and were beaten on a disputed shot at the buzzer.
This time, they did much the same thing to Kentucky (15-5, 4-2), which appeared to be cruising with a 43-26 lead late in the first half. The Wildcats couldn’t hold on, losing their second in a row on the heels of a weekend loss to Vanderbilt that snapped an 11-game winning streak.
Joe Crawford led Kentucky with 29 points. He had 17 in the first half, helping push the Wildcats to a 43-30 lead at the break, but didn’t get much help from his teammates.
The game went to overtime tied at 65. Crawford scored the first basket off a steal, but Brown tied it up on the inside and Terrance Woodbury put the Bulldogs ahead to stay with a 3-pointer.
Crawford’s pull-up jumper with 2:20 remaining would be Kentucky’s final points. Gaines sealed the victory by hitting a pair of free throws with 28 seconds to go, and Mike Mercer finished it off with a dunk, getting the ball back after his attempt at a spectacular reverse slam clanked off the rim.
During a frenetic final minute of regulation, Georgia’s Steve Newman threw a pass away and Kentucky took off on a fast break, only to turn it back over when Gaines hustled back to swipe a bounce pass by Jodie Meeks, trying to hit a teammate breaking loose under the basket.
Gaines drew a foul at the other end with 37.1 seconds left, going to the line with a chance to put Georgia ahead. He missed both free throws but jumped in front of Crawford to steal away the rebound on the second one, giving the Bulldogs a chance to win it with a final shot.
But the half-court offense bogged down near midcourt, forcing Gaines to attempt a desperation shot that failed to hit anything.
Georgia started strong in the second half, taking advantage of Randolph Morris sitting on the bench with three fouls. The Bulldogs scored the first eight points, pounding the ball inside for every one of them before Kentucky finally scored on Meeks’ 3-pointer.
The Wildcats appeared to have weathered the storm when Meeks hit another trey, pushing the lead back to double-figures at 50-38. But Georgia just wouldn’t go away, ripping off a 19-5 spurt that pushed the Bulldogs back into the lead for the first time since the opening minutes.
Brown scored again on the inside, putting Georgia in front 57-55 with 5 1/2 minutes to go.