Three more things from UK’s rally at Georgia

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ATHENS, Ga. — My column done, here’s three more things from Kentucky’s 72-64 win at Georgia:

1. Doing it when it counts. When Georgia’s Yante Miten tipped in his own miss with 9:14 left, Kentucky trailed 56-47. When Georgia’s Marcus Thornton made two free throws with 5:36 remaining, Kentucky trailed 62-56.

And then, all of a sudden, the Cats rolled up their sleeves and went to work. A 14-0 run turned the six-point deficit into a 70-62 lead with 33 seconds left and Kentucky improved to 30-0 with the eight-point win over the Bulldogs.

Here’s how the 14-point run went: Aaron Harrison fast break basket while being fouled cut the lead to 62-58. Willie Cauley-Stein jammed home Aaron’s missed free throw to cut it to 62-60. Aaron’s jumper from the right wing tied the score at 62 with 3:51 left.

Karl-Anthony Towns three-point play at the 2:53 mark put UK up 65-62. Towns then scored off a Tyler Ulis assist to make it 67-62. Aaron Harrison made one of two free throws for 68-62. Then with 33.4 seconds left, Towns made two more free throws for a 70-62 UK lead.

Kentucky-Georgia final box

2. Georgia did almost everything right. Almost. The Bulldogs shot 47.3 percent to UK’s 37.9 percent. Georgia outrebounded the Cats 41-38. Georgia had 32 defensive rebounds to 11 offensive boards for Kentucky. The Bulldogs had 13 assists to Kentucky’s eight.

Georgia usually shoots more free throws than its opponents, however, and that didn’t happen Tuesday. Kentucky was 18-of-25 from the foul line. Georgia was just nine-of-18.

The Bulldogs missed five key free throws over the final 4:22. Charles Mann missed the front end of a bonus situation at 4:22. Kenny Gaines missed the front end at the 2:27 mark. Mann missed yet another front end with 44 seconds left. And J.J. Frazier missed two free throws with 11.1 seconds remaining.

“We played hard, we played very well but we didn’t play perfect,” said Georgia coach Mark Fox. “And they are so dang good that you almost have to play perfect, and that’s not realistic.”

Video: Kentucky-Georgia highlights

3. All praise Karl-Anthony Towns. The 6-foot-11 freshman finished with 19 points and seven rebounds in 27 minutes before fouling out. Towns was eight-of-12 from the floor and three-of-five from the foul line. He had one assist, one turnover, one block and one steal.

For much of the second half, he was the one for the Cats. Towns scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half. He scored 11 points in the game’s final 7:58. He scored seven of those points in the final 2:53.

“We had to do some stuff to get the ball in the post and Karl did well,” said John Calipari afterward. “I’ve got enough confidence in him to go to him to shoot free throws. That’s how much I think of him. We know he has the courage and he has the skill and ability, but that’s what we did, we went to him late.”

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Related link: Herald-Leader photo gallery from Kentucky-Georgia

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Liveblog: Kentucky-Georgia basketball

Live Blog Liveblog: Kentucky-Georgia basketball
 

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College basketball on television: March 3

Brad Nessler, Jay Bilas and Shannon Spake comprise ESPN’s crew for Tuesday night’s Kentucky-Georgia game.

Here’s the list of college basketball games on television Tuesday:

  • 7:00 – North Carolina at Georgia Tech (ESPNU)
  • 7:00 – Georgetown at Butler (Fox Sports 1)
  • 7:00 – Rhode Island at Dayton (CBS Sports)
  • 7:00 – Iowa at Indiana (ESPN)
  • 7:00 – Maryland at Rutgers (Big 10)
  • 7:00 – Ole Miss at Alabama (SEC)
  • 9:00 – West Virginia at Kansas (ESPNU)
  • 9:00 – Michigan at Northwesten (Big 10)
  • 9:00 – Kentucky at Georgia (ESPN)
  • 9:00 – Texas A&M at Florida (ESPNU)
  • 9:00 – Auburn at Missouri (SEC)
  • 9:15 – Villanova at Creighton (Fox Sports 1)
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Kentucky-Georgia stats comparisons

When breaking down the stats comparisons, Kentucky shoots better than Georgia, defends better than Georgia, is pretty much even in three-pointers, forces more turnovers, blocks more shots.

Georgia does have an advantage at the free throw line. Not in making free throws, but in getting to the line. The Bulldogs are averaging 25.3 free throw attempts per game, compared to 23.9 for Kentucky. The Bulldogs have taken 161 more free throws than their opponents this season.

Kentucky is shooting 71 percent from the line, while Georgia is shooting 68.7 percent. J.J. Frazier is the Bulldogs’ best foul shooter at 84.4 percent. Charles Mann has taken the most free throws for the Dawgs, hitting 124 of 187 for 66.3 percent. Next is Marcus Thornton, who has made 76 of 117 for 65 percent.

Georgia took 48 free throws against Stony Brook, 35 against Gonzaga, 37 against Mercer, 35 against LSU, 31 against Ole Miss, 32 against South Carolina.

In the Dawgs’ 69-58 loss to Kentucky on Feb. 3, Georgia was 15-of-23 from the foul line. Kentucky was 12-of-17 from the stripe. Georgia was nine-of-14 from the foul line in the second half when they outscored the Cats 31-27.

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Three things from Kentucky’s Georgia (road) preview

Three things from Monday’s Kentucky basketball media opportunity, previewing Tuesday night’s game at Georgia.

1. Georgia is an NCAA Tournament team. That’s what John Calipari called the 19-9 Bulldogs. “They’re an NCAA Tournament team we’re playing on the road,” the Kentucky coach said.

Georgia has won three straight, winning at Alabama and at Ole Miss before mauling Missouri 68-44 at Stegman Coliseum last Saturday. Ken Pomeroy ranks Georgia 35th. Sagarin has the Dawgs at 39th. The RPI has Georgia at No. 32. Joe Lunardi has Georgia at No. 29 in his “S” curve.

One thing the Bulldogs do very well is get to the foul line. Georgia has attempted 709 free throws compared to 548 for their opponents. “This will be a hard game,” Calipari said. (I know, you’ve heard that before, but this time he’s probably right.)

2. Getting to the best versions of themselves. The Calipari creed. So how close are individual Cats getting to operating at full throttle?

Cal said he wants Devin Booker and Aaron Harrison to keep striving to be basketball players, not just shooters. “I want them to be players who can make threes, not three-point shooters,” he said.

Marcus Lee has to get better. Dakari Johnson has to be more consistent. Karl-Anthony Towns has to avoid bad fouls. Andrew Harrison is getting there, although Cal said the point guard can give “10 to 15 percent” more. Andrew is just in better shape this season, Calipari said. It wasn’t until February that Andrew really started playing last season, he said.

3. Find your joy. Cal mentioned on the SEC teleconference that he has talked to his team about the “clutter” again — which means that the sun came up this morning. Cal told us in the afternoon version that he talks to the team at least once a week about outside influences, and that he has to here because it’s worse here.

Mainly, he said, he wants the Cats to have fun.

“When a team plays with anger and mad, that physiology can turn to fear,” he said. “I want you to play with joy. Play with joy. Have fun. Joy always beats anger, negativity. (It’s) what’s the worse thing I can say versus how can I build something up?”

Related link: Video: Leading up to 29-0, courtside at Rupp Arena

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College basketball on television: March 2

Remember when Texas gave top-ranked Kentucky all the Cats wanted in Rupp Arena in December? Remember that Texas was without its leading scorer, Isaiah Taylor, that night? Remember thinking the Longhorns were a definite Final Four possibility come March?

Well, it’s March 2, and if the Longhorns don’t beat Baylor on Monday night in Austin, 7 p.m. on ESPNU, Rick Barnes’ club can all but kiss a spot in the NCAA Tournament goodbye.

Texas is 17-12 overall and 6-10 in the Big 12 after a tough 69-64 loss at No. 8 Kansas on Monday night. It was the fourth straight loss for the Longhorns, following defeats to Oklahoma, Iowa State and West Virginia.

And Texas already has a blowout 83-60 loss at Baylor on Jan. 31. And the Bears are hot. Scott Drew’s club is 10-6 in the Big 12, thanks to a four-game win streak. Baylor handled West Virginia, 78-66, on Saturday.

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Atlanta columnist thinks Georgia can beat UK

My friend and former Herald-Leader columnist Mark Bradley, now a longtime columnist at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, says Georgia has a shot at upsetting Kentucky on Tuesday night in Athens.

Mark writes:

Georgia isn’t a great team — it lost at home to Auburn and South Carolina — but it’s in a nice spot: It knows enough about Kentucky not to be shocked by the Wildcats’ depth of talent, and the Bulldogs’ Feb. 3 loss in Rupp Arena actually served as a pick-me-up. Without leading scorer/rebounder Marcus Thornton, Georgia trailed only 63-58 inside the final two minutes.

In the end, Mark says, “I would be surprised if this isn’t a close game. I wouldn’t be stunned if Georgia wins.”

A native of Maysville, Bradley will be inducted into the U.S. Basketball Writers Hall of Fame during this year’s Final Four in Indianapolis.

Related link: SEC basketball results, schedules and leaders in Excel

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Bud Dupree ranked as fifth-best edge rusher

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock’s position rankings were released Monday, and former UK star Bud Dupree is listed as the fifth-best edge rusher in this year’s draft.

Dante Fowler of Florida is listed No. 1 at that position, followed by Shane Ray of Missouri, Clemson’s Vic Beasley, Nebraska’s Randy Gregory and then Dupree.

At the NFL Draft Combine in Indianapolis two weeks ago, Dupree ran the 40-yard dash in 4.57 seconds, which was faster than all but nine of the running backs. He also had a 42-inch vertical leap, which was the second-best among linebackers in the past five years of the combine. Dupree had an 11-6 broad jump, which also turned scouts’ heads.

During the broadcast of the combine on the NFL Network, Mayock and fellow analyst Charles Davis said Dupree was inconsistent at Kentucky, playing too tall against the run.

The NFL Draft begins April 30.

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Kentucky women make a special Senior Day

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Big win for Kentucky’s women before a sold-out Senior Day crowd at Memorial Coliseum as Matthew Mitchell’s team defeated second-ranked South Carolina 67-56.

It was just the second loss of the year for Dawn Staley’s Gamecocks, who missed a chance to finish the regular season undefeated in the SEC. Carolina, which beat Kentucky 68-60 in Columbia in January, dropped to 27-2 overall and 15-1 in league play. Kentucky and Connecticut are the only two teams to beat the Gamecocks.

How did UK pull it off? The Cats held Carolina to just 32.3 percent shooting from the floor. The Gamecocks missed a ton of point-blank shots; some contested, some not. The Cats forced 20 South Carolina turnovers. And UK matched taller USC on the boards: Each team finished with 45 rebounds.

Better yet, the Cats continued the story line that began Tuesday night when the four seniors called a meeting with Mitchell at his house, where they laid down what they thought should be done to improve the team’s discipline and focus. Mitchell agreed and went to work.

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College basketball on television: March 1

It’s the final day of the regular season for SEC women’s basketball, with the conference tournament starting Wednesday in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

South Carolina has already clinched the No. 1 seed, thanks to its win over Tennessee, and the Gamecocks can win the league outright with a victory at Kentucky on Sunday. ESPN2 has the game at 5 p.m.

Matthew Mitchell’s Cats are currently 9-6 in the league, tied with LSU for fifth place. South Carolina leads the conference at a perfect 15-0, followed by Tennessee at 14-1. Mississippi State and Texas A&M are both 10-5.

LSU plays host to Texas A&M in a 2 p.m. game on ESPNU. Mississippi State plays host to Ole Miss in a 2 p.m. game on Fox Sports South. Meanwhile, Tennessee entertains Vanderbilt at 5 p.m. on the SEC Network.

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