LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky capped its three-game SEC homestand with perhaps its most complete game of the season, a 79-54 thumping of Georgia on Saturday at Rupp Arena.
The No. 14 Wildcats (15-4, 5-1 SEC) had recorded only one victory by more than 20 points since Nov. 19, but did so against the Bulldogs by filling the stat sheet with a long list of impressive figures:
• Eleven of 12 players who saw action scored for UK, including four in double figures: Aaron Harrison (15), Julius Randle (14), James Young (13) and Alex Poythress (11).
• The Wildcats shot 50 percent from the field and recorded an assist on 16 of its 29 baskets. They also shot 80 percent at the free throw line.
• UK held the Bulldogs to 33 percent shooting from the field, forced a season-high 20 turnovers and matched season-highs with 11 blocked shots and nine steals.
“Well, we're okay,” UK coach John Calipari said. “Will we become the team and have the discipline it takes to really make a run to do something unique and special? We'll see.
“This stuff is a process. This was a good game for us. We're learning.”
Georgia (10-8, 4-2 SEC) played short-handed against the Cats. Mark Fox’s club was without one of its top players, sophomore guard Kenny Gaines, due to injury. The Bulldogs had to start four post players and could not matchup with UK’s athleticism on the perimeter.
“Well that was an SEC battle in which they whooped us,” Fox said. “We couldn’t slow them down enough to get back in it, and just couldn’t score enough today to hang in there.
“We couldn’t play man defense because we couldn’t match up there, and it made us a little slow in transition, in which they outran us. So it impacted the game but it’s part of it. You’ve got to deal with injury.”
Leading 12-10 early in the first half, UK went on a 13-0 run to seize control of the game. The Cats held Georgia scoreless for more than five minutes during that stretch.
Eight different UK players scored in the first half as the Cats built a 34-22 lead at the break.
Georgia closed within 37-31 early in the second half, but UK had mini-runs of 7-0, 5-0 and 12-0 to gradually pull away to a blowout victory.
The game also marked a bounce-back performance for sophomore center Willie Cauley-Stein, who had scored only three points and been almost a total non-factor in UK’s previous three games. The Kansas native responded with eight-points, six blocked shots and six steals in a good all-around effort.
“Active,” Cauley-Stein said when asked about the difference in ending his slump. “I just got back to the roots of the game and just flying around contesting shots and running the floor.
“I had a really good couple of days of practice and I felt like my normal self.”
Added Calipari: “Like I said, we can win without Willie. (But) we're not winning big without Willie… We need him.”
• Kentucky improved to 80-2 at Rupp Arena under Calipari.
• The Wildcats lead the all-time series against Georgia 116-26, including a 57-5 record in Lexington and a 32-4 mark in Rupp Arena.
• Over the last three games, UK has made 80.3 percent (57 of 71) at the free throw line.
• Kentucky begins a two-game road swing Tuesday at LSU. Tipoff is slated for 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.