Bulldogs Edged By Wildcats In SEC Opener, 76-68
LEXINGTON, Ky. --- DeMarcus Cousins scored seven of his 17 points in the final three minutes as #3 Kentucky held off Georgia 76-68 to win each team’s SEC opener here Saturday afternoon.
Georgia (8-6, 0-1), after yielding an early Kentucky lead, crept back into contention and took control before halftime. Travis Leslie kept Georgia’s offense afloat in the early going by scoring 10 of the Bulldogs’ first 13 points.
Once the rest of his teammates got untracked, Georgia nudged ahead in this hard-fought battle. Four straight foul shots by Trey Thompkins, who finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds, put the Bulldogs in front for the first time at 27-26 with 5:05 left in the half. The first-half Georgia lead reached as large as six at 35-29 on a Thompkins jumper at the 1:43 mark.
Georgia kept a lead as late as the 8:05 mark of the second half, when two free throws by Kentucky’s Eric Bledsoe pulled the two teams even at 59. The Wildcats (16-0, 1-0) followed a missed 3-pointer by Ricky McPhee with a putback by Patrick Patterson 40 seconds later that put Kentucky ahead for good.
Still, the Bulldogs kept the contest close into the final minutes. A steal and reverse layup by Leslie got Georgia within 70-68 with 1:05 left. Cousins then took a John Wall feed and converted a layup with 37 seconds left. Georgia was unable to convert on either of its last two possessions.
“I was proud of our kids by how hard they played,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said. “We played hard and played together. We just had too many turnovers, 13 in each half. You can’t turn the ball over that many times and expect to win on the road in this league.”
The Bulldogs resume SEC play at home against #14 Ole Miss on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m.