Dawgs Can't Stop UK, Wall

ATHENS – The sold-out crowd at Stegeman Coliseum on Wednesday night was testament to how far Georgia has come in its first year under head coach Mark Fox.

The furious onslaught unleashed at both ends of the court by No. 3 Kentucky in the second half was testament to just how much farther the Bulldogs have to go.

What began as a close game turned on a flurry of turnovers by Georgia and impressive buckets by the Wildcats, as superstar freshman John Wall helped lead the Wildcats to an 80-68 win that left the overwhelmed Bulldogs in awe.

"Kentucky's a team in the running for a national championship," sophomore Trey Thompkins said. "There's no weakness that they have."

Indeed, even what Georgia did well Wednesday had little effect on the Kentucky dominance.

The Bulldogs (13-15, 5-10 SEC) held powerful forward DeMarcus Cousins to just three shots, but he dominated on the defensive end, blocking six Georgia shots.

Kentucky's perimeter game was far from impressive, and the Wildcats converted on just 8-of-24 shots from 3, but a blazing second half stretch in the paint left the Bulldogs shaking their heads.

Even on the boards, where Kentucky led the SEC by a wide margin, Georgia found success, finishing the game with a 37-28 edge. But no matter. The Wildcats' 12-0 run to start the second half was fed by a bevy of Bulldogs turnovers, and that was all the opening Kentucky needed to turn a close game into a dominant victory.

"They're a terrific team, and they have terrific players," Fox said. "You have to play darn near perfect if you're not going to be able to match them in quickness or in size. And when you can't match them at either, you've got to play darn near perfect, and we weren't able to do that."

It was the final home date of the season for Georgia – and the final game at Stegeman in the careers of the Bulldogs' three seniors – but it was Wall who put on the evening's most memorable performance.

The talented guard who many have pegged as the first overall pick in the upcoming NBA draft, scored a game-high 24 points, including six points in the first three minutes of the second half that proved to be the difference in the game.

Georgia trailed by just two points at the break and had led by as much as six, but the Wildcats came out of intermission with a press that seemed to flummox the Bulldogs. Georgia turned the ball over on six of its first eight possessions and Kentucky (28-2, 13-2 SEC) took advantage, going on a 12-0 run that had effectively sealed the game by the time Fox called a timeout in sheer frustration.

"It's surprising how quick it can turn, but we watch film," point guard Dustin Ware said. "We know they're an explosive team and they can put up points very fast. We wanted to keep the game at our pace, but they did a great job of keeping it at theirs."

Jeremy Price came off the bench to lead Georgia with 19 points, while Thompkins chipped in with 12, but played most of the second half with four fouls and was rarely the aggressor on either end of the court. Meanwhile, Kentucky won the battle in the post, finishing with a 38-28 edge in scoring in the paint, while swatting away 14 Georgia shots.

Patrick Patterson finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds for Kentucky and Darnell Dodson added 11 points. Asked afterward how many NBA-caliber players the Wildcats put on the floor Wednesday, Thompkins simply shook his head.

"I don't want to even say, because even their bench is loaded," he said.

It was as impressive a showing as the Bulldogs had seen all year, and by the time Ware had a chance to let the performance sink in, he was convinced the Bulldogs had taken the best shot from a team he expects to still be playing when the NCAA tournament gets to Indianapolis for the Final Four.

"I can't put my finger on anything that would keep them out of it," he said. "They've got everything, and they were definitely the better team (Wednesday)."

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