Playing without Jarred Vanderbilt, a late first half run ignited Kentucky to a 62-49 win over Georgia, Kentucky’s fourth SEC Tournament victory over the Bulldawgs in the last five years.
It wasn’t always easy for the Cats. Georgia hung around until about four minutes left in the first half after Kentucky’s sluggish offensive start. Yante Maten knocked down a pair of free throws to give Georgia a 23-22 lead. The Dawgs did not make a shot for the next seven minutes, sparking an 11-0 UK run.
Georgia could not recover because the Cats successfully contained the AP SEC Player of the Year. Using a group effort with smothering double teams, Maten was limited to just nine points on 2-of-10 shooting.
P.J. Washington stepped up in Vanderbilt’s absence to lead Kentucky in scoring with 18 points. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander knocked down his first five shots en route to a 15-point performance, while Kevin Knox added 15 more.
Many questioned if Kentucky could adjust without Vanderbilt. Today’s game showed this team is prepared to do whatever is necessary to extend the season. Now all they have to do is stop fouling three-point shooters.
Kentucky advances to play Collin Sexton and Alabama in the SEC Tournament semifinal tomorrow at 1:00 ET on ESPN.