MBB: #16 Kentucky Tops Georgia 92-77

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MBB: #16 Kentucky Tops Georgia 92-77

The University of Georgia Men’s Basketball team was defeated by the #16 Kentucky Wildcats 92-77 on Saturday night in Rupp Arena.

Oscar Tshiebwe dominated for Kentucky, posting 29 points along with 17 rebounds, 5 of which came on the offensive glass. Freshman phenom and projected lottery pick TyTy Washington added 17 points and recorded a school record 17 assists. Kario Oquendo notched 22 points and 7 boards to lead the Dawgs in both categories, while Aaron Cook contributed 17 points and 5 assists.

Both teams came out of the gate aggressive and energized in response to the electric atmosphere in Rupp, which made for a tightly contested first half of basketball. Aaron Cook was looking to score from the opening tip, dropping the first 7 Bulldog points with a deep 3-Pointer, long mid-range jumper, and floater as Georgia jumped out to an early 7-2 lead with 16:43 to play in the half. A bucket from Davion Mintz and dunk from Tshiebwe cut the lead to 1 before a 3-Pointer from Noah Baumann and fast-break layup from Braelen Bridges bumped the Bulldog advantage back up to 6 points at a score of 12-6. The Wildcats responded with a 7-0 scoring run with baskets from Tshiebwe, Washington, and Kellan Grady which would give Kentucky its first lead since the first points of the game at a score of 13-12 with 13:08 on the clock. The two squads battled back and forth for the duration of the period which saw 10 lead changes and 5 tied scores as neither team could create any significant separation. Kentucky maintained a considerable advantage on the offensive boards, besting Georgia 5-1 in that category as they outscored the Dawgs 7-0 in second chance points. UGA took advantage of their opportunities at the charity stripe in the first period, converting all 7 of their tries while UK posted only one free-throw attempt. Baumann led the Dawgs with 10 points at the intermission with 2 made 3-Pointers, although Tshiebewe’s formidable paint presence ultimately gave Kentucky a slight edge in the first half. The junior big man had already recorded a double-double heading into the break with 10 rebounds and 12 points to lead all scorers as the Cats held a 40-37 halftime advantage.





Kentucky got to the basket early in the second half, and two quick Wildcat buckets from Washington and Keion Brooks increased the lead to 7 points in the first 35 seconds of action. Georgia responded with successful perimeter shooting on consecutive trips down the floor, as a 3-Pointer from Jackson Etter and mid-range jumper from Cook brought the deficit back down to just 2 points at a score of 44-42 with 18:24 remaining. This would prove to be the closest margin of the second half, as the remainder of the contest was all Kentucky. A 10-3 Wildcat scoring run over the next over the next 2:36 of action would give UK a 9-point lead heading into the first media timeout. The Dawgs hung tight over the next four minutes of action behind a 3-Pointer from Baumann and driving layup from Cook as the squads traded buckets while the margin fluctuated between 9 and 12 points, eventually resulting in a 12-point Wildcat advantage entering the second media timeout. Brooks started to heat up for the Cats after the timeout, converting on a pair of mid-range jumpers on consecutive possessions and a pair of free-throws as Kentucky expanded their lead to 16 points at a score of 77-61 with 7:24 to play. The advantage grew to as many as 22 points thanks to a 3-pointer from Mintz and layups from Tshiebewe and Lance Ware as Kentucky built a comfortable 84-62 lead with under 6 minutes remaining. Oquendo continued to play hard and attack aggressively on offense through the final whistle, scoring 9 points over the final 5 minutes of action as Georgia trimmed 7 points off their deficit. Kentucky held on to eventually secure the 92-77 home victory.

As is evident from the box score, Oscar Tshiebewe controlled the game on both ends of the floor, taking advantage of second-chance opportunities off offensive rebounds and rolling to space before staying to finish strong around the rim while his teammates fed him all night.  The forward was able to capitalize consistently on mismatch opportunities after Braelen Bridges was forced to switch off him in pick-and-roll situations and in help defense. Tshiebewe entered the game as the SEC’s leading rebounder, averaging more than 15 per game, and gave the Dawgs fits on the glass throughout the game.

 Georgia did a great job limiting clean perimeter looks for Kellan Grady, who was the SEC’s most prolific 3-Point shooter by a considerable margin prior to Saturday’s game in shooting an incredible 47.7% from long range. Grady, who Head Coach Tom Crean referred to as the “Steph Curry of the SEC,” shot just 1-7 from 3-Point territory as the Dawgs keyed on him defensively throughout the game.





The 92 Kentucky points were the most that the Georgia defense has allowed in a game this year, which is all the more impressive when considering that the Wildcats were without the SEC’s assist leader and former Bulldog Sahvir Wheeler. Coach Crean commented that the point guard’s absence posed a unique challenge defensively in that “you’ve got to guard all three guys… so there’s no one you can really back off of” on the perimeter, as Washington, Grady, and Mintz all proved dangerous 3-Point shooters. The 3-Point potency for Kentucky when paired with the interior dominance of Tshiebewe resulted in a seemingly indefensible offensive attack, which, in Crean’s opinion, was “the best their team has looked” all year.

The loss on Saturday brings the Dawgs to 5-10 on the season and 0-2 in conference play as they prepare to travel to Starkvillei to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Wednesday, January 12th.





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