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GEORGIA OUTDUELS KENTUCKY 79-71

Date story was published: Thursday, February 26, 1987

ATHENS, Ga. -- Dennis Williams' 29 points and Willie Anderson's leadership guided Georgia to a 79-71 victory over Kentucky last night. The win gave the Bulldogs third place in the Southeastern Conference.

Williams scored 12 of his points in the second half, including six free throws.

Georgia made 15 of 17 second-half free throws to blunt a Kentucky comeback that cut a 10-point deficit to three several times in the final five minutes.

Three-point shots got Kentucky close. The Cats made seven in the half and eight in the game.

Derrick Miller had four of the bombs, but it wasn't enough to avert UK's ninth loss in 25 games. The Cats fell to 9-8 in the SEC.

Georgia improved to 10-7 in the league and 17-9 overall.

Kentucky's streaky nature was apparent in the first half. In one three- minute span, the Wildcats ran off 10 straight points to take a 15-10 lead.

However, Georgia wasn't without a dominant period. The Bulldogs followed UK's 10 straight points with a 9-1 run.

With those runs balancing each other, the half was a nip-and-tuck affair. Georgia took a 33-32 lead into the locker room on Derrick Kirce's back-door layup, a favorite play for the Bulldogs.

Ed Davender, who was 1-for-7 last Saturday at LSU, led Kentucky with 13 first-half points.

Davender keyed the 10-0 breakout. He scored four of the points, including a steal and driving layup that gave Kentucky its first lead (11-10 with 13:31 left). The junior guard also passed for a Richard Madison layup in the run.

After Georgia got two free throws at 12:01, the Bulldogs' first points in more than three minutes, Davender sank a three-pointer from the top of the key to give UK its largest first-half lead, 18-12.

Georgia's back court of Williams and Anderson countered immediately. Williams scored four points in the 9-1 counterpunch. Both baskets came on back door cuts with Anderson providing the passes. Anderson had five first-half assists.

When an Anderson lob hit the rim, he retrieved the loose ball and drove for a layup that put Georgia ahead 21-19.

Georgia was leading 25-22 when Rob Lock scored five straight points. Lock hit a post-up basket while being fouled by Georgia center Eric Burdette. Lock made the free throw, one of only five UK made in 10 first-half attempts, to tie it at 25.

Another Lock basket inside -- off either an unorthodox pass from Rex Chapman or a forced shot by the freshman -- put Kentucky ahead 27-25.

But Georgia answered with another Williams back door basket and the two teams played evenly until intermission.

UK got a lift from Miller's three-pointer early in the second half. It cut Georgia's lead to 37-35.

But the Bulldogs ran off eight straight points to take the game's largest lead: 49-39. It also prompted a Kentucky timeout with 14:41 remaining.

UK was scoreless for almost three minutes leading to the half. The Cats missed five shots.

Georgia's run was keyed by a Chad Kessler's fast break move. Kessler, a 6-8 forward not known for being fleet of foot, was out on the floor on the fast break. Kessler's pass fake froze Davender. Kessler then stepped to a dunk that made it 47-39.

With the sellout crowd roaring, freshman Derrick Kirce tipped in Anderson's miss to make it 49-39.

After its timeout, Kentucky rallied. A James Blackmon three-pointer on a rebounded possession and Irv Thomas' rebound basket made it 49-44.

But Georgia countered. Anderson drove for a basket. Then Williams flipped a fast break basket over his head while being fouled by Chapman. The three- point play extended the lead to 10 at 54-44.

Miller hit two three-pointers in an 8-2 run that cut the lead to two. Miller's three-pointer from the right side made it 59-57 with 8:06 left.

Miller had a chance to put UK ahead. After Cedric Jenkins blocked Kessler's driving shot, Miller missed a three-pointer from the top of the key.

After Madison gathered the long rebound, a chance to tie the score was lost. Madison missed a post-up shot.

Georgia increased its lead to 63-57 after a television timeout. Alec Kessler hit two free throws when Jenkins blocked his layup from behind but was called for a foul.

Chad Kessler's layup off an Anderson pass made it 63-57 and prompted a UK timeout with 5:30 left.

Three-pointers by Miller and Chapman and tip-in by Madison each brought Kentucky within three in the final five minutes.

Georgia answered each time with baskets inside. Williams posted up Davender for a basket that became a three-point play when Miller was called for blocking.

UK's final charge to within three -- 70-67 with 1:51 left -- was snuffed by another three-point layup. Alec Kessler took a Williams pass for a layup while being fouled by Miller.

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