No. 16 Kentucky will look to regain its dominance over visiting Georgia in a Southeastern Conference game on Saturday in Lexington, Ky.
Georgia’s 63-62 win over the Wildcats in the teams’ lone meeting last season ended the Bulldogs’ 14-game losing streak to Kentucky dating to the 2013-2014 season. The Bulldogs have lost nine straight in Rupp Arena since their last win in March 2009.
Kentucky (11-3, 1-1 SEC) and Georgia (5-9 0-1) are both coming off tough losses on Tuesday.
The Wildcats gave up a 20-2 second-half run during a 65-60 loss at No. 21 LSU. Davion Mintz scored 16, Jacob Toppin 14 and Kellan Grady had 13 for Kentucky, which had a four-game winning streak snapped.
However, point guard Sahvir Wheeler, who played his first two seasons for Georgia, was sidelined less than four minutes into the game with an injured neck after colliding with LSU’s Efton Reid as Reid set a screen.
Wheeler, who is third in the country with an average of 7.3 assists per game, was helped to the locker room and did not return. He is expected to miss Saturday’s game, with Mintz starting in his place, according to Kentucky coach John Calipari.
“When Sahvir went down, he’s the engine on this thing and gets us all moving,” Calipari said. “They gave us a lot of physical (play), like, wow! Guys were getting knocked down — mostly our guys.”
With Wheeler out, the Wildcats struggled offensively. Kentucky shot 36.2 percent from the field, its worst effort of the season, in addition to shooting just 50 percent (10 of 20) from the free-throw line.
“We had funky lineups in that we had never used before, and that gave us trouble offensively because it’s like, ‘How do we play with this team?'” Calipari said. “But the guys fought, and that’s all you can ask.”
Oscar Tshiebwe leads the team in scoring (15.2), rebounding (15.1) and blocks (1.5) per game, while TyTy Washington, who left with cramps against LSU but is expected to play against Georgia, averages 13.4 points and Grady and Keion Brooks average 11.9 and 10.5 points per game, respectively.
Georgia is coming off an 81-79 loss to visiting Texas A&M when Marcus Williams hit a 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds left. Williams’ shot from the right wing followed Kario Oquendo’s three-point play that had given Georgia its first lead of the game with 5.5 seconds left.
The Bulldogs, who were led by Oquendo’s 21 points and Noah Baumann’s 19, trailed by 17 points with less than 18 minutes remaining.
Georgia has lost three in a row and four of its past five, including setbacks to George Mason, East Tennessee State and Gardner-Webb.
“We’ve had too many games where we’ve been down and we lose our spirit and we get discouraged, get distracted,” coach Tom Crean said after the loss to the Aggies. “Tonight, they didn’t. It’s a long game. It’s a great learning lesson for them.”
Braelen Bridges leads the team in scoring (12.8 points) and rebounding (5.9), while Aaron Cook averages a team-high 6.8 assists and 1.6 steals to go along with 10.2 points per game. Oquendo averages 12.2 points.
–Field Level Media