Originally created 01/16/97

Kentucky proves its still team to beat



ATHENS, Ga. - Perhaps G.G. Smith summed it up best.

"This is very embarrassing," Georgia's guard said following Kentucky's 86-65 stomping of the Bulldogs on Tuesday night. "I thought we could handle them. I thought we could run with them."

Obviously not yet.

The Wildcats, the defending national champions, rebounded from Sunday's surprising loss at Mississippi with a dominating victory over No. 21 Georgia (12-3, 2-2) before a sold-out crowd of 10,523 fans at Stegeman Coliseum.

"I think we needed this," Kentucky coach Rick Pitino said. "I would have been very, very surprised if we didn't come away with a victory after losing to Ole Miss."

No. 5 Kentucky (15-2, 3-1 in the Southeastern Conference) handed the Bulldogs their worst loss under coach Tubby Smith and snapped their home winning streak at 11 games.

The Bulldogs shot just 30 percent, had two terrible streaks from the floor and finished with more turnovers (20) than field goals (15).

"We just got out of character," Georgia coach Tubby Smith said. "It's a sign of immaturity and being youthful. We just didn't have it."

In the first half, the Bulldogs went 7:59 without a field goal, but then had a field goal-less streak of 9:42 in the second half. Combined, the Bulldogs went almost an entire half without making a shot from the field.

As if the tireless, acrobatic, athletic Wildcats needed any help.

"That's amazing," Georgia forward Derrick Dukes said. "I'm shocked. I'm just shocked. I thought we could play with them. I thought it would be a lot closer than this. A lot of us thought we could win."

The Bulldogs were far from the team that won the Rainbow Classic last month.

Beforehand, Smith stressed the things he always preaches: "I said, `You've got to stick to the game plan. Stay within our character. Do what we do best. Be patient on offense. Move the ball. Be unselfish.'

"Just the opposite happened."

Georgia's poor showing might have been a sign of the team's youth. While Kentucky is used to playing in front of big raucous crowds and on ESPN, the Bulldogs appeared wide-eyed, timid and rudderless.

"They were trying to do too much," Georgia's Michael Chadwick said. "I did it myself. I was just trying to get something started, trying to be a leader. I thought our team could handle this, but we didn't."

Said Dukes, "We're still looking for a leader. We need a real leader, someone to take charge."

The final margin might have been worse if not for Georgia's SEC-record 50 free-throw attempts. However, they made only 30, while the Wildcats made 33 of their 40 attempts.

"I don't know what happened," Chadwick said. "This is the worst loss I've ever experienced. It's amazing. We just didn't play good at all."

KENTUCKY (86)-Prickett 1-2 1-2 3, Mercer 5-20 5-6 15, Mohammed 0-0 0-0 0, Anderson 6-7 11-12 24, Epps 2-8 0-0 6, Edwards 1-6 8-8 10, Masiello 0-0 0-0 0, Turner 4-6 0-1 8, Padgett 2-4 4-5 8, Magloire 4-8 4-6 12. Totals 25-61 33-40 86.

GEORGIA (65)-Baker 1-2 2-4 4, Chadwick 5-9 1-3 13, DeYoung 0-2 0-0 0, Harrison 1-9 5-6 7, Smith 1-9 5-9 7, Taylor 0-0 0-2 0, Brown 1-4 7-10 9, Jones 4-6 5-10 15, Ransom 0-0 0-0 0, Hall 0-0 2-2 2, Dukes 2-8 3-4 8, Nordin 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 15-50 30-50 65.

Halftime-Kentucky 40-26.

3-Point goals-Kentucky 3-13 (Epps 2-8, Anderson 1-2, Padgett 0-2, Edwards 0-1). Georgia 5-18 (Chadwick 2-3, Jones 2-3, Dukes 1-5, Nordin 0-1, Harrison 0-2, Smith 0-4). Fouled out-Prickett, Mohammed, Edwards, Padgett. Rebounds-Kentucky 46 (Anderson, Epps 7). Georgia 39 (Baker 8). Assists-Kentucky 13 (Anderson 5), Georgia 6 (Smith 2). Total fouls-Kentucky 34, Georgia 25. A-10,523.