"That crowd helped us tremendously," head coach Dennis Felton said. "They were as big a part of this game as anything else and anybody else."
The Bulldogs (12-6, 4-2 SEC) hadn't beaten the Wildcats (15-5, 4-2) in their previous five tries, and they moved into second place in the SEC East with the victory.
Fittingly, it was Georgia's New York native who starred down the stretch. Junior point guard Sundiata Gaines, a product of the Queens courts in Jamaica, N.Y., scored 12 points and had four of his five assists in the final 12:19 minutes of play.
"He's a big-time player at the end of games," teammate Mike Mercer said. "When he has the ball in his hands, I have 100 percent confidence that he's going to make something happen."
Gaines missed four free throws late that could have made things easier, but he hit the back-breaking shot with 1:44 left in overtime, a leaning 3-pointer over Kentucky guard Joe Crawford as the shot clock expired to give Georgia a 73-69 lead.
The Bulldos, who play No. 21 LSU on Sunday at home, trailed 43-26 with 2:33 left in the first half but chipped away at that deficit methodically before finally tying the score at 55-55 on a driving layup by Gaines with 5:48 left.
"We took our time, possession by possession," said Gaines.
He finished with 19 points, six rebounds and no turnovers in 39 minutes of play against the SEC's third-ranked defensive team.
It was a dramatic turnaround for the Bulldogs, who lost an 18-point halftime lead in their last outing, against Alabama. In the first half, it appeared Georgia was still thinking about that heartbreaker.
"It was one of those deals that was hard to understand," Felton said of the first half. "It was the worst basketball we had played in a long time. I don't know if we have played that bad all season."
Georgia rallied, though, to shoot 56 percent from the field in the second half and overtime.
"It was a hell of a comeback," Felton said. "Our crowd got behind us, and our crowd definitely fueled our players."
Takais Brown led Georgia with 20 points on 10-of-15 shooting and had seven rebounds, and Terrence Woodbury had 16, his best outing against a Division I opponent.
"I thought Takais made some really tough plays," Felton said. "That's what we've never had. He's a guy who can go get us baskets inside. That really buoyed our confidence tonight."
Kentucky was led by Crawford, who had 17 at halftime and finished with 29. The Wildcats have now dropped two straight.
The Bulldogs, meanwhile, won for the fourth time in five games and are beginning to feel the momentum turn on their mammoth rebuilding job.
"We have to play it out," Woodbury said, "but tonight was a real big win for us."