Cats too much for limited Dawgs

LEXINGTON, KY – Already down one guard due to injury, Georgia came here Wednesday without another due to irresponsibility.

The manpower shortage was too much to overcome, even against a weaker-than-usual Kentucky team. The Wildcats beat the Bulldogs 82-70 in front of 24,108 on Senior Night in Rupp Arena.

While Kentucky honored its seniors, Georgia played without one of the two on its roster. Guard Levi Stukes was suspended from the game after missing a mandatory weight lifting session and then having what head coach Dennis Felton called "an inappropriate exchange" with a member of the team's strength staff this week.

Felton is unsure if he'll allow Stukes to return when the Bulldogs finish the regular season Saturday at home against Tennessee, he said.

"I'll deal with Levi when I get back," he said.

The disciplinary action came at a bad time for Georgia, which could have made a bold statement to the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee with a win here. Instead, the Bulldogs fell to 17-11 overall and 8-7 in the SEC.

"It's extremely disappointed," Felton said. "You expect your seniors to lead the way. You expect your seniors to be the first ones there, and the guys who are making sure everyone else is there and in line and doing all the things that they need to be doing."

Stukes, the Bulldogs' second-leading scorer (12.3 ppg) and best 3-point shooter, did not make the trip here. He had started 25 of 27 games this year and 106 of 110 in his career. (The Bulldogs already were without starting guard Mike Mercer, who suffered a season-ending knee injury on Feb. 10.)

Stukes' teammates were "most definitely" frustrated by his actions, point guard Sundiata Gaines said.

"It doesn't matter who it is, especially this late in the season, everybody by now should be doing the things they should be doing, a freshman or a senior," said senior Steve Newman, who had a season-high 17 points. "It would have helped to have the guys we didn't have, but I still think it was a winnable game."

Georgia also played without junior center Dave Bliss, who suffered a hip injury in practice Tuesday, and freshman forward Albert Jackson, who suffered a shoulder injury in pre-game warmups. Bliss had started 16 of 17 games before Wednesday and is averaging 4.4 points and 3.3 rebounds. Jackson is averaging 2.2 points and 2.2 rebounds. Both could return Saturday.

The Bulldogs played just seven players against the Wildcats (20-9, 9-6), but still stayed close for most of the first half.

The game began to turn just before halftime. The Bulldogs led 28-26 with 1:21 left in the first half, but Kentucky scored eight points in that span to go ahead six at the break.

The Wildcats then scored on 10 of their first 12 second half possessions and led 59-44 after a Randolph Morris basket with 11:18 left in the game. Georgia never got closer than eight again, and Kentucky's lead grew as large as 18.

"I'm most interested in talking about the guys who were here and playing, and I am proud of their effort," Felton said. "The game got away from us because we weren't quite tenacious enough defensively."

The Wildcats shot 67 percent in the second half and 59 percent overall, and they made more than 10 3-pointers (11 in this case) for just the fourth time all year.

"They hit a lot of wide open threes," Gaines said. "They just kept hitting them because we weren't really defending like we should, and that really got their runs going." Forward Bobby Perry, one of three seniors recognized before the game, led Kentucky with a season-high 22 points. Four Georgia players scored in double figures, led by Terrence Woodbury's career-high 18.

Dawg Post Top Stories