Fox: Unselfish play sets Kentucky apart

Don't count Georgia coach Mark Fox among those who believe Kentucky is leading college basketball down a path of ruin.

On a day when Michigan State's Tom Izzo suggested that a potential undefeated championship season for the Wildcats may cause concern for the state of the college game -- a sentiment echoed by an opinion piece this week in Rolling Stone magazine -- UGA's Fox had a much-different take on UK during the SEC coaches teleconference.

"They're very unselfish," Fox said of the 29-0 UK squad his Bulldogs will play on Tuesday night in Athens, Ga. "I think that's the thing that John (Calipari) should get more credit for -- their team plays so unselfishly, and that's why they're so dominant. They're just very willing to help the next guy play well.

"They have a great team, and they deserve all the accolades that they're getting, all the attention they're getting. We'll be their biggest fans once they get into the NCAA Tournament, but when it comes to tomorrow night, we've got to try to change the course of the results that they've had all year."

Georgia (19-9, 10-6 SEC) will be getting its second crack at the Cats on Tuesday in a 9 p.m. ET tipoff on ESPN. Kentucky topped the Bulldogs 69-58 on Feb. 3 at Rupp Arena in a game that wasn't as close as the final score indicated, Fox said. "Well, playing with and beating are two different things."

Added Fox: "Looking back, I don't think Kentucky played particularly well, and they're a different team with (Trey) Lyles in the game."

Lyles, a 6-foot-10 freshman and UK's starting "3" man, missed that game and two others due to an illness. Since returning to the Cats' rotation, he has averaged 11.2 points per game, including a career-high 18 in each of the last two games. He was named SEC Freshman of the Week on Monday.

Lacking his presence in the first matchup, UK was a minus-12 on the glass against the Bulldogs, one of only five teams to top the Cats in the rebound column this season.

But Georgia was also without a major component on Feb. 3 in senior forward Marcus Thornton. The Bulldogs' leading scorer (12.3 ppg) and rebounder (7.2 rpg) missed the UK matchup due to a concussion. He's back, and UGA is riding a three-game winning streak, including road wins at Alabama and Ole Miss and a 68-44 romp over Missouri in its latest outing.

"They're a better team," Calipari said. "They're an NCAA Tournament team, and we'll be playing on their home floor."

Fox knows it will take UGA's best effort of the season -- and probaby some help from the Cats -- if the Bulldogs are able to derail a potentially historic run. UK is attempting to become the first team since Indiana in 1976 to complete an undefeated championship season.

"It's not impossible," he said. "You just have to figure out a way to make it possible."

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