Game Rewind | Comeback win sends UK to final – The Courier-Journal
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — No. 2 seed Kentucky (24-8, 13-5) will look to earn a spot in the Southeastern Conferecne tournament title game with a win over No. 6 seed Georgia (19-12, 10-8) Saturday at Bridgestone Arena.
Follow along here for updates from Bridgestone Arena (refresh often to make the most recent news appear at the top of the page) and Courier-Journal staffers Kyle Tucker, Jon Hale, Tim Sullivan and Matt Stone on Twitter for more updates in Nashville.
FINAL: Kentucky 93, Georgia 80
Jamal Murray finished with 26 points and six rebounds. Tyler Ulis had 25 points and five assists. Alex Poythress totaled 10 points and two rebounds. Derek Willis had 14 points, seven rebounds and four blocks. Isaiah Briscoe totaled 12 points, seven rebounds and two assists.
UK 86, Georgia 78 (1:11, 2H): Looks like UK is going to get its rematch against Texas A&M. Jamal Murray has 26, Tyler Ulis has 23. Isaiah Briscoe is on the bench in favor of Dominique Hawkins with Georgia looking to foul and extend the game.
UK 81, Georgia 72 (3:28, 2H): Kentucky has suddenly taken control of the game. While Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray each have 23 points tonight, it’s difficult to overstate the impact of Isaiah Briscoe during this run. He now has 11 points, six rebounds and two assists. He’s got seven points, two rebounds and two assists in the second half. All his buckets have come at big moments and he’s made some key defensive plays. Considering how animated Calipari was in chastising Briscoe earlier, it says a lot about his ability to bounce back. Poythress picked up his fourth foul on a call the crowd hated, but it looked like Kenny Payne thought Poythress had erred based on his talk with the senior on the sideline.
UK 68, Georgia 67 (7:45, 2H): Bridgestone Arena is as loud as you will ever hear Rupp Arena after Kentucky has taken the lead on an Isaiah Briscoe put-back layup and a Derek Willis block on the next Georgia possession. Jamal Murray will go to the line after the timeout to shoot two free throws. Tyler Ulis continues to show why he is SEC Player of the Year with 18 points and five assists. With UK down four, he drilled a 3-pointer from well behind the line to help spark this run. Alex Poythress has also been excellent since returning to the court. He’s got 10 points and one rebound. Willis has 10 points, five rebounds and three blocks.
Georgia 62, UK 59 (11:57, 2H): And just like that Kentucky has closed the game to three. Isaiah Briscoe completed a three-point play at the foul line, and UK drew a charge on the ensuing possession to give Kentucky the ball back out of the media timeout. John Calipari was quite pleased with Tyler Ulis as the team headed to the huddle. Speaking of Calipari’s sideline antics, here’s a look at the sequence after his earlier bear hug for Charles Matthews.
Georgia 62, UK 56 (12:25, 2H): Georgia still holding on here as Kentucky is just 4 for 11 from the field in the second half. Derek Willis has joined Jamal Murray and Tyler Ulis in double figures with 10 points, but Murray has not scored in the second half. Alex Poythress has six points and one rebounds in limited minutes due to foul trouble but is back in the game with three fouls. Marcus Lee has not shared the foul trouble of the Poythress and Skal Labissiere but has yet to record a point or rebound in the game. It’s getting close to crunch time for UK. Cats could use one of those patented runs from Ulis and Murray.
Georgia 55, UK 51 (15:43, 2H): Crowd into it now as Charles Matthews has given UK a spark with some energy, rebounds and defense. He’s got no points but has two rebounds and two steals. After keeping a possession alive on offense, Matthews was summoned to the bench by John Calipari during a free throw where the UK head coach greeted him with a huge hug. Calipari then followed that move with a little dance on the sideline. Looked like he was sending a message to Isaiah Briscoe, who had previously been removed in favor of Matthews after his second fast-break turnover of the game. Tyler Ulis is up to 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting with four assists. Derek Willis has seven points and four rebounds. Skal Labissiere and Alex Poythress picked up their third fouls in the first two minutes of the second half.
HALFTIME: Georgia 49, UK 44
An Isaiah Briscoe put-back at the buzzer was no good as Georgia was able to shock a heavily partisan pro-UK crowd at Bridgestone Arena by taking a five-point lead into the locker room. Georgia shot 61.3 percent from the field (19 for 31) and 50 percent (6 for 12) from 3-point range. Jamal Murray’s 19 points were not enough to give Kentucky the lead as both starting forwards, Alex Poythress and Skal Labissere, were plagued by foul trouble. Tyler Ulis added 12 points and four assists. Kenny Gaines led Georgia with 14 points, and J.J. Frazier added 10. UK shot 45.2 percent (14 for 31) from the field and 33.3 percent (4 for 12) from 3-point range. Murray needs just one point to top the 20-point plateau for the 12th consecutive game. He set the UK freshman record for points with 661 on the season now.
Georgia 45, UK 38 (1:36, 1H): If you’re a fan of good defense, you might want to keep your eyes closed this afternoon. Both teams shooting better than 45 percent. Georgia is shooting 62.1 percent. Kentucky actually took the lead twice in the last stretch but never stretched its advantage to more than one point. Georgia has hit its last five shots to stretch the lead back to seven. Jamal Murray already has 17 points for UK on 6-of-8 shooting. Charles Matthews getting some extended minutes early for Kentucky as John Calipari looks for someone to defend and rebound. Georgia still has a 16-10 advantage in rebounds, though that stat is slightly skewed by the few opportunities UK has had to rebound missed shots.
Georgia 30, UK 29 (7:09, 1H): UK has roared back into this thanks in large part to Jamal Murray and Tyler Ulis, who have combined for 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Ulis also has four assists and scored six straight for UK at one point. With Skal Labissiere and Alex Poythress both on the bench with two fouls, John Calipari will turn to freshman 7-footer Isaac Humphries out of the timeout. UK is being out rebounded 12-5.
Georgia 23, UK 14 (11:54, 1H): UK showing some life, but Georgia still in control of this one thanks to a 71.4 percent mark from the field (10 for 14). Jamal Murray has six points, including the highlight of the game so far with a dunk on a backdoor cut, and will shoot three free throws after the timeout. Skal Labissiere has been sent to the bench with two fouls. Tyler Ulis has four points and three assists. Kentucky is 5 for 12 from the field and 2 for 4 from 3-point range. With the offense clicking again, UK needs to find some sort of defensive continuity. Georgia has hit its last four shots to prevent any significant UK run.
Georgia 15, UK 5 (15:21, 1H): Someone forgot to tell Georgia this game was going to be a UK blowout. Terrible start for the Wildcats as Georgia has hit six of its first nine shots and 2 of 4 3-point attempts. UK is 2 for 6 from the field with two turnovers. Kenny Gaines already has eight points for Georgia after making each of his first three shots. The heavily-partisan UK crowd is trying to motivate its team, but little is working so far as John Calipari was forced into a timeout after a William Jackson 3-pointer. Skal Labissiere and Alex Poythress have both been whistled for fouls. Looks like Mark Fox is making a five-for-five substitution out of the timeout.
STARTING LINEUP: UK’s starting lineup unchanged: Tyler Ulis, Jamal Murray, Isaiah Briscoe, Alex Poythress and Skal Labissiere.
PREGAME: A win over the Bulldogs, who UK beat by 34 in early February at Rupp Arena, would do little for the Wildcats’ NCAA tournament resume but a loss to Georgia could end the team’s hope of earning a No. 3 seed. Georgia needs to win the SEC tournament and earn the league’s automatic bid to play in the NCAA tournament. A win for Kentucky could set up a rematch with No. 1 seed Texas A&M, which handed the Wildcats a controversial overtime loss on Feb. 20 in College Station, in the championship game.
UK beat writer Kyle Tucker and columnist Tim Sullivan break down UK’s win, SEC tourney.
Matt Stone, The Courier-Journal
Game Rewind | Comeback win sends UK to final – The Courier-Journal