Originally created 02/23/98

Wildcats rally to beat Georgia



LEXINGTON, Ky. -- For 30 minutes Sunday afternoon, the Georgia Bulldogs played like a team which had won four straight. For the final 10, they played like a big underdog which had lost nine in a row to Kentucky.

Unfortunately for Georgia, 10 minutes were more than enough for the No. 8 Wildcats, who buried the Bulldogs 85-74 in front of 24,272 in Rupp Arena. The Bulldogs (14-12 overall, 6-8 SEC) haven't beaten Kentucky (24-3, 12-2) since the 1994 season.

"I thought our team played hard," Georgia coach Ron Jirsa said. "We did some good things about two-thirds of the game, and we need to sustain that."

Foul trouble, miserable shooting from the floor and poor execution quickly wiped out a 43-36 halftime lead for Georgia. The Wildcats went to a zone defense in the second half that completely perplexed the Bulldogs. Jumaine Jones, who led Georgia with 21 points, was the only Bulldog to hit a field goal in the first 17:55 of the second half, and he could manage only three.

"We were shooting too many threes, and we didn't get the ball inside (against the zone)," Jones said. "We practice against the zone everyday in practice, and we didn't get the ball inside today. That's why we lost."

Georgia shot 18.8 percent in the second half after hitting 53.6 percent of their shots in the first frame and had only two assists in the second half.

"We didn't shoot well, and we didn't get to the basket and get to the free throw line against it," Jirsa said.

It didn't help the Bulldogs when Larry Brown fouled out with 5:54 left in the game and Georgia trailing by only six. Brown was 4-for-4 from the floor in the first half and finished with 13 points, four rebounds, two assists, one block and one steal.

"Larry played his guts out," Jirsa said. "He's only 6-foot-5 and was going up against (6-10 Nazr) Mohammed. We just needed him the whole game."

Mohammed had 16 points to lead five Kentucky players in double figures. Heshimu Evans had 15, and Allen Edwards added 13.

Kentucky regained the lead at 17:09 in the second half when Jeff Sheppard scored inside and was fouled. His free throw put the Wildcats ahead 44-43.

But Georgia outscored Kentucky 10-2 from there to retake the lead at 53-46. That was the Bulldogs last run. The Wildcats took the lead for good when Edwards scored on a putback with 8:23 left.

The Bulldogs jumped out to a quick 9-2 lead on Kentucky, hitting four of their first six shots, while frustrating the Wildcats on defense. But Kentucky soon found its rhythm and went ahead 15-9 on a bucket by Edwards.

Georgia retook the lead with 12:48 left in the half on 3-pointer by G.G. Smith, who finished with 19 points for the Bulldogs. Georgia stretched the lead to 27-19 with 9:09 left on a bank shot by Brown.

Georgia gets very little rest before a Tuesday night game at No. 13 South Carolina. With Sunday's loss, even more importance is placed on that game if the Bulldogs have any hope of an NCAA Tournament bid.

"I think everybody will have their head up for South Carolina," Jones said.