Georgia 90, Kentucky 85

Lowly Georgia shocks Cats in Rupp

jtipton@herald-leader.comMarch 5, 2009 

Boos filled Rupp Arena several times as lowly Georgia handed Kentucky a crippling 90-85 loss Wednesday night.

And when Coach Billy Gillispie tried to inject life into the Cats by benching four starters early in the second half, the move backfired as Georgia built a nine-point bulge.

During a television timeout, the recorded cheer of "What's your favorite color, baby?" did not get the usual full-throated "Blue!" and "White!" The barely audible response suggested the crowd wanted to think about alternatives.

Or maybe try to digest what was happening.

Georgia, which came into the game ranked 308th nationally in free-throw accuracy, made 25 of 30 in this stunning upset.

Georgia had not won a game on the road in Southeastern Conference play. The Bulldogs had averaged only 60.7 points in league play.

The league's worst offense blitzed the league's best defense by making 50 percent of its shots and 68.8 percent of its three-point attempts. Georgia came into the game ranked 271st (out of 330 Division I teams) in shooting accuracy.

"No. 1, it's all my fault," Gillispie said in a radical departure from blaming one player for Saturday's loss to Louisiana State. "I'm having a real hard time finding five guys — or three or four guys — to play hard and smart and together all the time.

"I'm trying a lot of different things. None are working."

Leading scorer Terrance Woodbury, an inconsistent shooter, was hot this night. He poured in 30 points (two shy of a career high) and made 12 of 12 free throws.

Kentucky, which needed to bolster its NCAA Tournament chances, fell to 19-11 overall and 8-7 in the SEC.

Jodie Meeks led UK with 23 points despite making only six of 16 shots. Michael Porter added a career-high 15, including a personal best five three-pointers.

"Truthfully, I don't care," he said. "There's no bright spot for me. I wish I'd made one more."

With Kentucky trying to rally from a 10-point deficit inside the final five minutes, Porter shot an air ball from the left corner when the Cats trailed 83-80 and barely a minute remained.

Kentucky needed to score the final nine points of the first half to take a 49-47 lead at intermission. A couple of Georgia turnovers and an intentional foul on Georgia's Corey Butler helped Kentucky finish with a rush.

Kentucky needed the help.

With Woodbury pouring in 21 points, Georgia was more than competitive despite its lowly status.

Woodbury got off to a good start with an assist from UK. The Cats fouled him twice early, enabling Georgia's leading scorer to get four points on the board inside the first 90 seconds.

With that start, Woodbury was off. He scored Georgia's first nine points.

"Sometimes he gets a little antsy to try to win the game with jump shots," Georgia interim coach Pete Herrmann said. "Tonight he didn't settle for jumpers."

Twice in the first half, Kentucky led by nine points. But Woodbury would not led Georgia fall hopelessly behind. It also helped Georgia to make 12 of 13 first-half free throws.

When asked to explain Georgia shooting holes in UK's defense, Gillispie said, "A lot of teams do things they don't do till they play Kentucky. That's going back to the (inadequate) competitive level. A lot of folks seem to be having good games against us."

Georgia's freshman point guard, Dustin Ware, had one. He had 18 points (a personal best in SEC play) and handed out five assists.

"He controlled the whole game," Gillispie said. "We didn't have too many guys stepping up and saying they wanted to guard him."

Leading 49-47 at intermission, Kentucky's play to start the second half was a disaster.

Georgia scored 10 straight points to take a 61-53 lead with 15:51 left.

The run coincided with a mass substitution by Gillispie. Josh Harrellson, Kevin Galloway, Darius Miller and walk-on Landon Slone joined Porter with 18 minutes left. Until the TV timeout with 15:31 left, UK missed three shots, Slone had a driving attempt engulfed and the Cats committed three turnovers.

Kentucky's starters returned after the TV timeout. They brought a renewed energy that resulted in the grinding, hustling play UK talked about on Tuesday.

Meeks took charge. He stole a pass and zipped to a fast-break layup. Fouled, his three-point play started a 9-2 counter by Kentucky. Meeks was everywhere and his hustle seemed infectious. His baseline jumper reduced the deficit to 63-60.

Then after another steal, he launched a three-pointer that would have brought an explosion from the stands. Meeks missed, but Harris hustled to a 50-50 rebound, which led to a Miller putback.

Kentucky got as close as 63-62 and trailed by three with barely nine minutes left.

Despite the crowd's urging, Woodbury hit a pull-up jumper after Miller went for a steal. Then, after a Patterson miss from the post, Woodbury made a three-pointer over Miller to put Georgia ahead 72-64 with 8:25 left.

Three times down the stretch, Georgia got the lead to 10 points, the third time on a pretty reverse layup by Woodbury (his 29th and 30th points) to make it 78-68 with 5:43 left.

"This is my fourth time here," Woodbury said. "I'm a senior, and every time I've been here, we've lost. It's sweet to get it now as a senior."

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