Instant Analysis: #1 Kentucky finishes strong

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Kentucky faced its final road game of the season in the pursuit of perfection and was able to grind out its 30th win of the season, 72-64.  Georgia played UK close the entire game and led by as many as 9 points in the second half due to an 11-0 run.  Georgia was able to have success down low for most of the night against the interior of the Kentucky defense that is filled with NBA lottery picks.  The Georgia big men had 28 of their 32 points at the half. But Kentucky eventually wore down the Bulldogs and battled back to take the lead for good.

Georgia was not able to have the same success on offense in the last 5 minutes that they had the rest of the game.  Give Georgia credit for playing a tough game though.  The people in Athens could smell the upset with about 10 minutes left in the game.  The gameplan Mark Fox came in with was good; it is just going to take a full 40 minutes to take down the powerhouse of Kentucky.  Kentucky continues to try to be the first team to finish a complete season undefeated since Bobby Knight’s Indiana team in 1976.

Turning Point

The Wildcats were down by 6 with about 5 minutes in the second half.  Aaron Harrison was able to hit a layup with the foul to pull it to 62-58.  On the free throw, Willie Cauley-Stein was able to get the offensive rebound and slam it back in for what was a 4-point possession, which is a 6- or 7-point swing.  After Kentucky was able to tie it, Karl-Anthony Towns was went to the rack, missed his shot, but got his offensive rebound and put it back up for the and-1.  After this possession, Kentucky’s stifling defense held the Bulldogs without a point until there was just 27 seconds left in the game.

Impact Player

Karl-Anthony Towns had 17 of his 19 points in the second half.  He shot 67 percent on the night in a game where Cauley-Stein was not someone the team could look to. Towns was able to impose himself down low in the closing minutes to kill the Bulldogs spirits of upsetting the No. 1 team.  If not for some foul trouble, Towns could have had even more success down the stretch of the game.

Strange, Yet True

The Bulldogs were able to win the rebounding battle 41-38 despite being shorter by about 4 inches at the forward and center spots.

Up Next

Kentucky looks to continue the pursuit of perfection in its last game of the regular season at home against a Florida team they beat 73-61 in January.  With the No. 1 seed in the SEC tournament locked up, this will be the only game they play until the third-round of the SEC tournament next Friday at 1 p.m.

Georgia will travel to Auburn to take on the Bruce Pearl squad it lost to 69-68 in the middle of February.  The Bulldogs need a win to help their seeding in the SEC tournament that starts next Wednesday in Nashville.

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