Kentucky women take another step back in 58-56 loss at Georgia

jsmith3@herald-leader.comJanuary 30, 2014 

  • Next game

    No. 14 LSU at No. 13 Kentucky

    When: 1 p.m. Sunday

    TV: Fox Sports South

Editor's note: Jennifer Smith did not attend Thursday night's game at Athens, Ga. She wrote her article with the help of TV and radio broadcasts.

Kentucky's Southeastern Conference woes continued at Georgia 58-56 on Thursday night.

No. 13 Kentucky continued to struggle against an active zone defense and managed just 56 points, the Cats' second-lowest scoring output of the season.

After going 12-1 to start the season, with the only loss coming to a top-five team in Duke, UK now has lost four of its last seven games.

At Georgia's Stegeman Coliseum, UK fell behind by as many as nine points in the second half and clawed its way back to within a point, but couldn't complete the comeback.

Jennifer O'Neill had a chance to win it with a contested three-pointer as time expired, but it rimmed out as many of the Cats' shots did. They shot a season-low 30.2 percent from the field.

O'Neill, who had 21 points in UK's win over Arkansas last out, missed all seven of her shot attempts and finished with just two points.

The Bulldogs got hot after intermission, making 47 percent of their shots, and were able to get enough cushion midway through the half behind the big play of Merritt Hempe, who had 15 points and 11 rebounds.

Khaalidah Miller had 11 points and five rebounds and Shacobia Barbee added nine points, 10 rebounds and six assists for the Bulldogs, who had just two SEC wins coming into this game and needed a win in a big way.

Georgia (14-6, 2-5 SEC) outrebounded Kentucky 46-39, including 14-7 on the defensive end. The Bulldogs also took much better care of the ball, with just four of their 13 miscues in the second half.

That meant just 12 points off turnovers for the game for Kentucky (16-5, 4-4), which was led by 10 points from Samarie Walker. Kastine Evans added nine points and Janee Thompson and DeNesha Stallworth had eight points apiece in the loss.

The Cats fell behind 7-2 early and made just two of their first 12 shot attempts before making six in a row to go up 19-13 on a Stallworth layup with 8:21 to go in the first half.

But Kentucky would go cold after that, making just one of its final 10 shots of the first half against another mobile zone. UK scored just five points in the final eight minutes and limped into locker room ahead 24-23.

The 24 points matched a season low for UK in a first half. The other two times the Cats scored 24 points in a half were in losses to Duke and at South Carolina.

Lucky for Kentucky, Georgia's offense sputtered and stalled, too, with the Bulldogs hitting just 23 percent from the field (11 percent from three-point range) compared to 31 percent for UK.

But UGA stayed in the game with hustle plays, outrebounding Kentucky 28-17, including 10-2 on offensive boards in the first half.

Kentucky's offensive woes continued in the second half and Georgia found a rhythm, leading by as many as nine points with five minutes to play on Halle Washington's jumper.

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog: ukwomen.bloginky.com.

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