For more than a brief moment Tuesday, it looked like Georgia had solved the puzzle and the Wildcats’ undefeated run would finally meet its demise at raucous Stegeman Coliseum. The Bulldogs led by nine with just under nine minutes to play, but as it has done on many occasions this season, Kentucky found an extra gear when it mattered most
Freshman forward Karl Anthony-Towns scored 11 of his game-high 19 points during a 25-8 closing run by the Cats, who improved to 30-0 on the season with a 72-64 win over upset-minded Georgia.
“Karl, we just kept going to him, and he just kept scoring,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said.
The UK boss admitted he thought the streak was about to end at one point late in the second half.
“I said I hope we get down 10 so we could figure out who we are,” Calipari said. “But this team is a resilient team… It was a good finish to a good game.”
Kentucky shot only 40 percent from the field, but Towns was 8-for-12 to carry the Cats. UK also got 16 points from Aaron Harrison, including 14 of those in the second half, and 12 points from twin brother Andrew Harrison.
Georgia (19-10, 10-7 SEC) shot 47 percent from the floor against the nation’s leader in defensive field goal percentage. Senior forward Nemanja Djurisic led the Dawgs with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting, but tallied only four in the second half and just two in the final six minutes.
Marcus Thornton, who missed the first UK matchup this season with a concussion, added 14 points and seven rebounds for Georgia.
"There's no shame in losing to a team like that," UGA coach Mark Fox said.
In this AllWildcats "Rapid Recap" feature, we touch on some of the night's highs and lows:
WHAT WE LIKED: Kentucky looked like it had finally met its match, trailing by nine midway through the second half, but the Cats found a way to “flip the switch” once again, just like they had done in close encounters against Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Florida and LSU earlier this season. Georgia had carved up UK’s switching man-to-man defense for most of the night, but when the Cats needed it most, they locked the Bulldogs down and allowed only one basket over the final 5:36.
KEY MOMENT: Trailing 62-56 with 4:48 remaining, Willie Cauley-Stein’s steal led to a runout basket for Aaron Harrison, who was fouled on the play. Harrison missed the ensuing free throw attempt, but Cauley-Stein was there to rebound the ball and dunk it for a four-point trip. Suddenly, it was 62-60 and Georgia’s momentum had evaporated.
STAT OF THE DAY: Kentucky became only the 13th team in NCAA history to reach 30-0. Six of the previous 12 who accomplished that went on to win the national championship.
BY THE NUMBERS:
0 for 5 – The Bulldogs missed all of their free throws in the final five minutes of play, including the front end of three one-and-ones. They finished 9-of-18 on the night.
3 - Turnovers by UK. Playing on the road in a hostile environment. Huge. The Cats have single-digit turnovers in six of their last 10 games.
4 – Number of SEC teams to ever win 30 games in a row. UK holds the league record at 32 straight over the 1954-55 seasons.
18 – Lead changes in the game.
-15 – The rebounding deficit UK had against UGA in two matchups this season. Only six teams have outrebounded the Cats, and the Dawgs did it twice.
QUOTABLE: “The streak doesn’t matter to us. The biggest thing for us is we’re getting better every game as a team and as individuals. This game, we really had to take a step up to win the game, and we learned a lot… I couldn’t be more proud of my brothers.” – UK’s Karl-Anthony Towns
UP NEXT: Kentucky closes out the regular season on Saturday at Rupp Arena against Florida. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET on CBS. The Gators (15-15, 8-9 SEC) defeated Texas A&M on Tuesday night in Gainesville, Fla.