Final: Kentucky 66, Georgia 60
Georgia definitely made it interesting late. It deserves credit for that, especially with its defense.
But the offense was abysmal, especially from Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie. We'll try to ask them after the game what was wrong, but they each played as badly as they have all year.
Twice, down seven in the final minute, the Bulldogs needed a bucket and turned it over. That just can't happen. The offensive rebounding kept it going in the final couple possessions, but by then it was too late.
Dustin Ware had a great game - 18 points - and Gerald Robinson and Jeremy Price played decent too. But you can't come into Rupp and win with your two best players struggling like that.
4:44 left in second half, Georgia trails 57-46
Georgia can at least say it didn't fold up in the second half, after a first half in which it looked totally outmatched. But so far the Bulldogs haven't been able to shave the lead under eight.
I've been watching Trey Thompkins, who is wearing what looks like a shin guard on his right leg. Mark Fox said Friday that Thompkins sustained a minor injury in practice.
I haven't seen Thompkins wince or really favor the leg, and his cutting seems normal. The only thing I wonder about is whether he has the normal lift off the ground, as a lot of his shots have been short.
As for Travis Leslie, well we know he's not hurt. He just hasn't shown up.
7:05 left in second half, Georgia trails 53-45
The Bulldogs aren't quite out of it yet, and in fact have cut it to single digits for the first time since the first half. Still, they couldn't cut it closer when given the chance in what's been a low-scoring game.
Georgia's body language tells the story in this one: Jeremy Price grimacing after missing free throws, and Trey Thompkins getting frustrating and forcing shots.
But Dustin Ware and Gerald Robinson are doing their part to prevent this from becoming a laugher. Ware hit a 3 to cut it to 53-43. Robinson, after looking kind of panicky in his half-court ball-handling, has shown stronger control lately.
Mark Fox went to a bigger lineup here midway through the half: Marcus Thornton on the court along with Thompkins and Price. Honestly, it might have been worth a shot earlier, given Kentucky's lack of strong post play.
14:43 left in second half, Georgia trails 48-36
For a bit there it looked like the runaway would continue into the second half, but Georgia has shown some life here. The success came when the Bulldogs were able to spread the court and pass like a real team in half-court. That didn't happen in the first 20 minutes.
(You know what kind of game it's been when the lead gets down to 12 and the home crowd gets antsy.)
Dustin Ware now has 12 points to lead the Bulldogs, while Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie have combined for eight.
Halftime: Georgia trails 39-24
Gerald Robinson hit a running layup as the buzzer sounded to at least send the Bulldogs into the locker room on a good note. Otherwise ... oy.
Georgia is probably lucky it's not worse. The moments of energy have been few and far between for the Bulldogs, and it hasn't put together any kind of run.
Georgia is 0-for-4 beyond the arc, while Kentucky is 6-for-12. That would be enough, but the turnover margin (Georgia 8, Kentucky 4) doesn't help either.
So what can it look forward to in the second half? Well, Trey Thompkins and Jeremy Price should both be available, and there isn't much reason to sit Thompkins when he gets his third foul. And 15 points isn't a totally irreversible margin.
Still, from the tip of this game it was obvious Kentucky was pretty much on its 'A' game, and Georgia's was around a 'D+'.
3:48 left in first half, Georgia trails 32-18
Trey Thompkins is sitting on the bench with two fouls, Travis Leslie is on the court taking bad shots and Mark Fox is halfway between the sideline and the court getting on one of the officials.
Fox was pretty close to getting a technical, arguing for a non-call on one end and a Georgia foul on the other. But the official gave him a pass, probably understanding Fox's frustration. He let it go as the media timeout commenced.
It would be easy to trace this to Thompkins being out, but he only had four points and two rebounds before he came out. Jeremy Price has two fouls too, so Georgia is weak in the front court, and the backcourt is only having sporadic moments. Leslie has just two points.
7:53 left in first half, Georgia trails 24-14
I'm not saying turn your television off right now. But Georgia isn't starting this game off looking like a team capable of beating Kentucky again.
It would be even worse if Kentucky hadn't missed some easy shots. But Georgia is clearly the sloppier team: Trey Thompkins picked up a foul when he was out of position and moved right into the ball-handler, the passing hasn't been crisp, and Sherrard Brantley came off the bench and immediately heaved a 3-pointer that was well short. And those are but a few examples.
Dustin Ware is showing a bit of energy, making a nice drive then going high for a long rebound on the defensive end. Marcus Thornton had some good minutes off the bench. Otherwise, the Bulldogs are just off.
16:50 left in first half, Kentucky leads 9-2
You forget how loud this place can get, and how hard it is for an opposing team to win here, until you're at court level and look out and listen to the sea of blue. No wonder John Calipari still hasn't lot a game here as Kentucky's head coach.
Georgia trails early, with Gerald Robinson scoring the team's only basket, on a nifty reverse layup. But it was Robinson who was incurring the wrath of head coach Mark Fox after a 30-second timeout, probably for a defensive lapse.
You can already tell that the Wildcats came out like they needed to, no surprise given it was playing a team it lost to a couple weeks ago.
Minutes before tip-off
One of the many nice things about Rupp Arena, from a media standpoint, is it's one of the increasingly last places that lets media sit courtside. So as I type this I'm close enough to the Georgia bench that Mark Fox can simply toss, and not hurl, a water bottle at me.
It's a sellout crowd here at Rupp Arena, and we're ready to go. Jeremy Price is back the starter again for Georgia, with Chris Barnes coming off the bench.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Final: Kentucky 66, Georgia 60