Hoop Dawgs Drop Cats

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- After its second stunning victory of the season, Georgia's basketball team wanted to make sure everyone knows the wins are no longer going to be the aberration.

"This is the first day of the rest of the season," senior forward Jonas Hayes said Saturday after the Bulldogs upset No. 5 Kentucky 65-57 in Rupp Arena.

The win was even more unexpected than Georgia's double-overtime victory over No. 3 Georgia Tech for a variety of reasons. The Bulldogs (9-5 overall, 1-2 SEC) were coming off two SEC losses by a combined 45 points, had to play through massive foul trouble and withstand the will of 23,102 fans in one of the nation's most storied venues.

Georgia overcome all that by dominating in the areas first-year coach Dennis Felton has emphasized all season -- defense and rebounding. Kentucky (11-2, 2-1) shot just 36.5 percent from the floor, including 21.1 percent from behind the 3-point line, and was outrebounded 36-23 by the Bulldogs.

"If (the players) have got any brains at all, they should figure out what we're capable of when we play the way we're supposed to play," Felton said of his team.

The loss snapped Kentucky's 21-game SEC winning streak, the ninth-longest in league history.

"We just didn't match their level of intensity or aggressiveness," Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said.

The Bulldogs were very aware that they weren't given any chance coming into the game. They even interpreted one of Smith's pregame comments as a lack of respect.

"We saw Tubby say he didn't think we had a chance," senior Chris Daniels said. "It was a slap in the face. We wanted to show them even though we are struggling, we still have a lot of fight in us."

What Smith said was the game might give him a chance to play his reserves more because Georgia had such an inexperienced bench.

"He thought our game was a confidence-builder," Hayes said. "To heck with that."

The win was Georgia's fourth all-time in Lexington and third in Rupp Arena and came just two years after their last victory, an 88-84 win.

"This win is better than the one my sophomore year because we had a lot things going against us," said point guard Rashad Wright, who led Georgia with 20 points.

Two Bulldogs -- Hayes and freshman Steve Newman -- fouled out and two more -- Daniels and Levi Stukes -- played several minutes in the second half with four fouls. Due to the foul trouble, Georgia had to play Newman 22 minutes and fellow freshman Marcus Sikes more than 16 minutes. Walk-ons Buzz Wehunt and Joey Waldrop combined for almost 11 minutes.

Kentucky point guard Cliff Hawkins fouled out and three other Wildcats -- Macon native Gerald Fitch, Erik Daniels and Chuck Hayes -- finished with four fouls. The teams combined to shoot 57 free throws, and had to be separated midway through the second half when an intentional foul by Newman set off a near brawl.

"It's two teams that were really playing hard," Felton said. "It was a hotly contested basketball game."

Georgia senior Damien Wilkins had 11 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and played smothering defense on Fitch, Kentucky's leading scorer. Fitch had 10 points, eight below his season average. He hit just 2 of 9 shots and scored only five points in the first 38 minutes.

Kentucky only had the lead for 50 seconds. Georgia led by as many as 11 in the first half, opening up a 20-9 lead when Daniels scored with 7:26 remaining. Kentucky cut the lead to three by halftime and then to one when Fitch hit two technical free throws to start the second half. (Felton was whistled leaving the floor after the first half.) For the first 10 minutes of the second half, neither team led by more than three points.

Kentucky took its only lead following Newman's intentional foul. Antwain Barber hit both free throws to tie the score 33-33, and, on the ensuing possession, Erik Daniels hit a free throw to put Kentucky up 35-34 with 12:43 remaining. The Bulldogs took their final lead when Levi Stukes hit two free throws with 11:33 left to put Georgia up 35-34.

"(Kentucky) made a lot of little runs. They didn't make any big runs," Felton said. "They were little runs because we showed some real character. If we play as hard as we did tonight and with the conviction we did, we can beat anybody. Today it just happened to be Kentucky."

"Hopefully, we didn't overlook them," Kentucky's Bernard Cote' said. "It sort of looked like it today."

Dawg Post Top Stories