“I thought he played with good energy,” UK coach John Calipari said of Harrison, a sophomore guard who came just three points from matching his career-high scoring effort. “Assist-to-turnover (7-to-1)… he played well.”
The Wildcats (22-0, 9-0 SEC) needed every one of them. Georgia (14-6, 5-3 SEC) had a solid showing despite playing without one of its top players, Marcus Thornton (13.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg) who was held out due to concussion protocol from a previous game.
The Bulldogs cut an 18-point second-half deficit to five with 2:06 remaining in the game, but a strong post basket by Towns at the 1:33 mark slammed the door on UGA’s upset hopes.
“I think we’ve got a pretty scrappy team,” UGA coach Mark Fox said.
Afterward, both coaches said the final score should not be interpreted as UK having played poorly.
“I don’t want to evaluate how Kentucky played," Fox said. "That’s John’s job, not mine. But this league is a lot deeper than people realize. What makes me angry is (the question) ‘Why does everyone have to beat Kentucky to be tournament teams?’ Everyone says Kentucky will go undefeated, or could go undefeated in any league. And they could go undefeated in our league, or maybe not. But why do the other teams in our league have to beat Kentucky to be worthwhile?
"The perception is that our league is like it was a year or two ago. That’s not the case. This league is terrific from top to bottom. I don’t think this should be perceived as Kentucky playing poorly. I don’t know how Cal thinks they played, but there has been a lot of battles in this league. There have been a lot of close games and its not because Kentucky’s bad or Kentucky’s young; but it is because the other teams are competitive.”
“We’ve got to promote this league and get facts out,” Calipari said, “… because as the league grows, we’re all benefitting by it, in recruiting and all other ways.”
In this AllWildcats "Rapid Recap" feature, we touch on some of the night’s highs and lows:
WHAT WE LIKED: Andrew Harrison may have played his best overall game as a Wildcat, going 8-for-16 from the field, 3-for-6 from behind the arc, and 4-for-4 at the line while dishing out seven assists and committing just one turnover. The combination of Harrison and Tyler Ulis on the court together has been a good one for the Cats, and one that Calipari may explore further as the season moves along.
KEY MOMENT: Georgia cut the margin to six with 3:58 to play when Harrison split the Bulldog defense for a driving layup to give the Cats some cushion. UK had made only one field goal in the previous six-plus minutes when he delivered a big one.
STAT OF THE DAY: The Bulldogs became only the fifth team this season to outrebound UK, which features one of the nation’s tallest rosters. Now playing without the injured Alex Poythress and an ill Trey Lyles, the Cats have been outrebounded in three of their last four games.
BY THE NUMBERS:
1 – Point for sophomore guard Aaron Harrison, the lowest output of his UK career.
3 – Blocked shots by Kentucky, well below its nation-leading average. The Cats have blocked 10 or more shots eight times this season.
11 – UK rebounds for players not named Towns on Tuesday.
12 – Combined turnovers for UK in its last two games – five against Alabama and seven against Georgia. The Cats have had single-digit miscues in four of their last seven games.
QUOTABLE: "Without Trey Lyles, we’re getting outrebounded by everybody.” – UK coach John Calipari.
UP NEXT: Kentucky returns to action Saturday at Florida in a 9 p.m. ET matchup on ESPN with College Gameday holding court in Gainesville. The Gators are coming off a 67-61 loss to Vanderbilt on Tuesday night in Nashville.
Kentucky sophomore guard Andrew Harrison...