ATHENS, Ga. — For a guy who led the nation in shooting accuracy a few weeks ago, Kentucky big man Patrick Patterson has struggled since Southeastern Conference play began.
His eight misses at Georgia were a season high and the third-highest total of his career. Through three SEC games, he's made a pedestrian (for him) 15 of 31 shots (48.4 percent).
That raised a question: Are the two fingers of his shooting hand he sprained in a recent practice affecting his accuracy?
"I don't think it is," Patterson said. "It's just getting used to tape on my fingers."
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During a pre-game review of the scouting report, UK Coach Billy Gillispie noticed how the middle and ring fingers are held together by tape at the base, a black sleeve along the shaft and another strip of tape at the tips.
"I said, 'Hey, do you have to have all that?' " Gillispie said to reporters after the game. "He said, 'Yeah.' So obviously it's bothering him some."
A rare miss for Meeks
Jodie Meeks extended his consecutive free throws to 36 before missing one with 11:22 left in the first half. The miss seemed halfway through the rim before spinning out.
When asked about the miss, Meeks smiled and said, "Yeah, I knew that was going to be a question. When I shot it, I thought it was going in. I smiled to myself. But I'm going to miss sometime."
The 36 straight was the third-longest streak in UK history, behind Travis Ford's 50 (1992-93 and 1993-94) and Jim Master's 40 (1981-82).
The 36 straight is the 13th-longest by a Southeastern Conference player.
"Maybe the rims are hard," teammate Perry Stevenson said. "We'll give him an excuse for this game. We're definitely surprised when that happens."
Meeks made three of four against Georgia to make him 25 of 26 in league play (96.2 percent accuracy).
"I wasn't expecting it," Gillispie said. "I was looking at the scoreboard and already putting two points up there."
An award for Stevenson
In recognition of his 13 points, six rebounds and two blocks, UK's Greater Atlanta Alumni Club gave Perry Stevenson its first Most Valuable Player award for a Kentucky-Georgia game. The award is named in honor of the late Bill Keightley.
"His defense was outstanding," Gillispie said. "He changed a lot of shots. He blocked some shots. He was very good in help defense all day long."
Stevenson also made a three-pointer, his third in six attempts this season and in his career.
"There was a little bit of luck behind that one," he said. "I put a little arc under it."
Why did he take the shot? "Four seconds on the shot clock," he said.
Quotes of the day
"Those guys are huge," Stevenson said. "They're like buildings with feet."
So how was Stevenson able to produce?
"I kept moving my feet," he said. "They're kind of burning right now. I can't wait to sit down and get to the shower."
No box and one
UK expected to see a box-and-one defense from Georgia, but it never materialized. The Bulldogs played man-to-man in trying to contain Meeks.
"We worked a lot on it in practice," Patterson said, "because we figured after the Tennessee game, maybe Georgia would want to box-and-one him."
Senior Corey Butler defended Meeks much of the game.
"I actually wanted to keep him under 20 (points)," Butler said. "I looked up in the first half and saw he had 15. I felt kind of disappointed."
Meeks finished with 22 (well below his SEC average of 37.5 points).
"I think we did a pretty good job," Butler said. "I don't think he felt very comfortable out there. But he still had a tremendous shooting night. Twenty-two points is 22 points. I don't care who you are, that's a good night."
Georgia Coach Dennis Felton led a lengthy team meeting after the game. He plans to attend Barack Obama's presidential inauguration and won't see his team until Wednesday. ... Georgia's 31.1-percent shooting was the worst for a UK foe since South Carolina's 26.8 percent of its shots Jan. 16, 2007. ... The 68-45 final score was the largest victory margin in the series since Rick Pitino's UK team beat Tubby Smith's Georgia team 95-68 in the 1997 SEC Tournament.
Kentucky (14-4, 3-0 SEC)
(All times Eastern and p.m. unless noted)
Date Opponent Time/Result
Nov. 3 x-MISSOURI-ST. LOUIS W, 111-53
Nov. 7 x-Ouachita BaptistW, 94-72
Nov. 14 VA. MILITARY INSTITUTE L, 111-103
Nov. 18 at North Carolina L, 77-58
Nov. 22 a-DELAWARE STATE W, 71-42
Nov. 24 a-LONGWOOD W, 91-57
Nov. 28 b-Kansas State W, 74-72
Nov. 29 b-West Virginia W, 54-43
Dec. 3 LAMAR W, 103-61
Dec. 6 MIAMI L, 73-67
Dec. 7 MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE W, 88-65
Dec. 13 INDIANA W, 72-54
Dec. 20 c-Appalachian State W, 93-69
Dec. 22 TENNESSEE STATE W, 102-58
Dec. 27 FLORIDA ATLANTIC W, 76-69
Dec. 29 CENTRAL MICHIGAN W, 84-52
Jan. 4 at Louisville L, 74-71
Jan. 10 VANDERBILT W, 70-60
Jan. 13 at Tennessee W, 90-72
Jan. 18 at Georgia W, 68-45
Jan. 21 AUBURN 9
Jan. 24 at Alabama 3
Jan. 27 at Mississippi 7
Jan. 31 SOUTH CAROLINA 3
Feb. 3 MISSISSIPPI STATE 7
Feb. 10 FLORIDA 9
Feb. 14 at Arkansas 1
Feb. 17 at Vanderbilt 9
Feb. 21 TENNESSEE 1
Feb. 25 at South Carolina 7
Feb. 28 LOUISIANA STATE 4
March 4 GEORGIA 8
March 7 at Florida 2
Mar. 12-15 d-SEC Tournament TBA
x-exhibition; a-first two games of Las Vegas Invitational; b-Las Vegas Invitational; c-at Louisville; d-at Tampa, Fla.