Georgia takes down Kentucky, 75-68
ATHENS, Ga. – With the 1983 Final Four team in attendance, the University of Georgia men’s basketball team broke a three-game losing streak with a 75-68 victory over Kentucky Saturday afternoon before a sell-out crowd of 10,376 at Stegeman Coliseum.
Junior Kario Oquendo led Georgia (15-10, 5-7 SEC) with 21 points, while fellow junior Justin Hill dropped 15 points and a team-high six assists. Fifth-year Braelen Bridges pitched in with 12 points, with junior Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe hauling in nine rebounds. The Bulldogs’ bench was dominant, outscoring the Wildcats’ reserves by a 21-2 margin. With the victory, Georgia notched consecutive home wins over Kentucky (16-9, 7-5 SEC) for the first time since the 1988-89 and 1989-90 seasons.
“A great win for our guys, I am really happy for our guys,” Georgia head coach Mike White said following the game. “Great environment, I am appreciative to our fans. It was a special day honoring the Final Four team that came back and I look forward to spending time with those members, support staff members and staff and seeing Coach (Hugh Durham). It was a cool day for Georgia Basketball. Our fans were great. Obviously, we played really well. This was a big win for us.”
Oquendo opened the game in style with a charging dunk, following it up with a crafty lay-in to score Georgia’s first four points of the afternoon. The Bulldogs continued to control the pace in the early minutes, building an eight-point lead by the 12-minute mark. Kentucky responded with sharp shooting from outside to tie the game at 13, but Georgia answered with a three from junior Jabri Abdur-Rahim to remain in front.
Coming out of the under-eight timeout, the Wildcats took the lead for the first time on a jumper from Jacob Toppin, yet the Bulldogs again fought back with six unanswered points. Georgia continued to push the tempo, helping Oquendo get to the foul line and extend the advantage. The Bulldogs’ 14-4 run capped off with a thunderous jam from Oquendo, giving his team a 36-27 lead with 2:43 to play in the half. Following a couple of Kentucky scores, Oquendo and Abdur-Rahim hit consecutive threes and set the halftime score at 42-32.
Kentucky closed the gap as the second half began, with eight straight points from Oscar Tshiebwe and a 3-pointer from Antonio Reeves tying the game at 47 with 13 minutes remaining. The Wildcats then pulled ahead with a triple from Jacob Toppin, taking a 52-48 lead into the under-12 timeout. Facing their largest deficit of the game, the Bulldogs rattled off seven straight points, including a three from junior Justin Hill to retake the lead.
Later in the period, Bridges asserted himself as he brought the lead to five with an old-fashioned 3-point play, followed up by a jumper to end a short Kentucky run. After forcing a shot-clock violation, Abdur-Rahim hit a corner three to make the score 64-58 with just under three minutes to play. On the following Wildcat possession, Hill made a timely steal as the Bulldogs began heading to the free throw line in the final minutes, clinching the victory in the process.
Georgia closes out its three-game homestand with a matchup against LSU on Tuesday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. at Stegeman Coliseum. The game will be broadcast live on SEC Network.
• Series Update – Kentucky maintains a heavy advantage in the all-time series, 131-28, despite the Bulldog win. Georgia has now won their last two matchups with Kentucky in Athens. The Bulldogs have won consecutive home games against the Wildcats for the first time since the 1988-89 and 1989-90 seasons.
• Team News – This afternoon’s starting five (Hill-Oquendo-Holt-Moncrieffe-Bridges) started their third consecutive game as a core. Terry Roberts returned to the court after his two-game absence.
• Breaking the Trend – Georgia’s 42 points at halftime tied the season-high. Previously, the Bulldogs scored 42 points in the first half against UAB and the initial matchup with Kentucky, but lost both contests.
• Super Kario – Kario Oquendo recorded his 39th double-digit point game of his career and the 16th of the season. His 17 points in the first are the most by a Georgia player in a first half this season.
• Safe Hands – Georgia committed only 7 turnovers tonight, a season-low.
• Busy on the Board – Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe tied his season high in rebounds this afternoon with 9. Georgia collected 37 boards as a team.
• Bench Boost – The Bulldogs’ bench contributed outscored their opponent’s bench, 21-1. On the season, Georgia’s bench has outscored opponents, 588-409.
• Ingram Inches – With his three points this afternoon, Jailyn Ingram needs just 7 more points to reach the 1,500 mark. Ingram is one of four Bulldogs (Abdur-Rahim, Holt and McBride) who has scored more than half of their points this season on 3-pointers.
GEORGIA HEAD COACH MIKE WHITE
“A great win for our guys, I am really happy for our guys. Great environment, I am appreciative to our fans. It was a special day honoring the final four team that came back and I look forward to spending time with those members, support staff members and staff and seeing Coach. It was cool day for Georgia Basketball, our fans were great, obviously we played really well, this was a big win for us. Kentucky is very good; they are an NCAA tournament team. Oscar (Tshiebwe) is one of the best players in the country, did a better job on him. I said post-game on TV, I thought we did a much better job and then I got the box score and saw we led he had 20-14, that’s how good he is. Justin Hill continues to play really, really well, that’s 13-2 was his turnover, the last couple if I am not mistaken. Made some three, really struggled from three recently, I thought those were factors. I thought the biggest factor of the game, I thought Braelen Bridges played as hard as he’s played all year. He was really good, really proud of him and his teammates are appreciative. He’s had bigger scoring and rebounding numbers in other games, but you go down you see he was plus 22 today, it tells you that he made a lot of winning plays.”
On winning the paint offensively…
“It was huge. To get it inside… We had a couple of high-low looks that we didn’t deliver but we also had a couple of pretty creative ones off of middle pick and rolls. M.A. Moncrieffe had a pretty good one to Braelen (Bridges). We had a bunch of paint touches oof of drives too. Protecting the paint obviously was huge for us. It just gives you a better chance to, in our opinion, slow down Oscar (Tshiebwe) and also slow down their ability on the offensive glass. Just a much better jib than we did up there. The guys played really hard.”
On how gratifying it is to win a game like this…
“Very, very. You know, it’s been a tough stretch for us. You know, and the environment at home has been great. Our record at home has been good and we have played well at home. We had a couple that we didn’t quite take advantage of down the stretch of course. That’s the SEC. Right? That’s what it is and to bounce back like this at home against a very good team is great for our guys. Our guys, our guys work. We prepared. I thought we prepared really well going into the Ole Miss game and prepared equally as well today. We probably played a little bit better, but again Ole Miss had a lot to do with that the other day too. So these guys will continue to work. We’ll be ready to go tomorrow. But that said, it doesn’t matter. You know, records, programs, the names on the jerseys. I mean all of these teams are really good and we’ve got to continue to get better.”
On the teams growth in responding to adversity…
“Early on, we responded to adversity very poorly. We took some jumps forward, obviously, and at times we’ve taken a couple steps back and a couple forward. It’s all part of the process of course, and tonight was another couple steps forward in that category. We had some maturity and had some connection, and it didn’t seem, overall, that we got as rattled as we’ve been and as defeated with our body language. We saw some of that on film from the other day. But some of that too is making winning basketball plays which allow you to feel better about yourself. We played with more mental toughness today.”
FIFTH YEAR CENTER BRAELEN BRIDGES
On the attitude coming into this game…
“Just believing. We wanted to go into the game knowing that we could win. We didn’t want to get down on ourselves and believe in ourselves from the jump.”
On points from the bench…
“We knew it was going to take the whole squad, so we just all picked each other up. If I didn’t play good, Frank [Anselem] would pick me up. Everybody picks everybody up. That’s our depth.”
On the defensive game plan for Oscar Tshiebwe…
“Just making him work. He’s a pretty good player. Making him work for everything he gets. Whether that’s post ups, offensive rebounds, anything. Putting him in ball screens. Make him work and wear him down.”
On outscoring Kentucky in the paint…
“Being physical from the jump and believing in ourselves. Attacking downhill. Trying to establish ourselves and punch them in the mouth right away.”
JUNIOR GUARD KARIO OQUENDO
On Jabri Abdur-Rahim…
“The coaching staff has ultimate confidence in him to come in and hit a shot at any time. I think that’s helped him out as a player. He comes in, and he knows that when his number is called, he’s going to show up. That was a big shot because I think it got them on their heels a little bit and the crowd got into it.”
On Terry Roberts returning…
“It was very impactful from a leader standpoint or just a standpoint from where you have another guy out there who can play point guard. Without Terry, we really don’t have another true point guard other than Terry and Justin Hill. It’s good to have another guy that can handle the ball and be out there.”
On the early defensive efforts today…
“I feel like we could start like that every game. Team feel is a really big thing. I think today we came in with a different type of feel and energy when we walked into shoot-around. You just have to learn how to keep that type of energy in every single game, not just a game we are hyped up for or a sold-out crowd game.”
On closing out the game…
“We knew at halftime when the coaches came in and talked to us that they were, right after we got out of the half, make a run. Every team pretty much has a run, or they lay down and lose by 20. We knew they were going to make a run, and we just had to respond to that.”