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CATS FALL TO GEORGIA 106-91

Date story was published: Thursday, January 4, 1990

ATHENS, Ga. -- After watching Kentucky get hammered 53-25 on the backboards and lose 106-91 to Georgia last night, Rick Pitino made a pledge.

His team will start rebounding better or wish its next game were in Panama rather than Nashville on Saturday, the UK coach said.

A "very disappointed" Pitino ordered two practices for today. One, he said, will be a two-hour session devoted entirely to rebounding.

"After that session tomorrow, our guys will wish they were in Panama," Pitino said. "It's a lack of concentration. They'll never forget this practice as long as they live. We'll need seven doctors."

The loss, UK's fourth straight, dropped the Cats to 5-6 overall and 1-1 in the Southeastern Conference.

Georgia improved to 8-2 overall and 1-0 in the SEC.

Alec Kessler led Georgia with 32 points, equaling his career high, and 18 rebounds.

Reggie Hanson said the flu bug was not to blame. Hanson said he felt fine, as witnessed by his 23 points in 19 minutes of play.

Pitino refused to let size be an excuse. "I'm tired of that," he said. "We just didn't block out."

The rebounding problem was all the more glaring because UK had some positives to point to.

The Cats made only eight turnovers. Georgia committed 21 turnovers.

Foul trouble and three-point shooting also hurt UK. Hanson, Johnathon Davis and Jeff Brassow fouled out despite the SEC's experimental six-foul rule.

Except for two brief flurries when UK hit three three-pointers in rapid succession, the Cats were two-for-21 from three-point territory.

Kentucky started strong, but finished the first half meekly.

The Cats rode Derrick Miller's hot shooting to a 17-9 lead in the first five minutes.

UK upped its lead to as much as 26-15.

Though shaky through much of the half, Georgia righted itself and slowly cut into the lead.

By the end of the half, Georgia was rolling. The Bulldogs outscored UK 15-2 in the final 4:42 to take a 51-41 halftime lead.

The half's first five minutes gave no hint of what would follow in the final five.

Miller hit his first three three-point attempts, the third off a between- the-legs dribble that lost the defender.

Meanwhile, Georgia struggled against Kentucky's pressure defense. Center Neville Austin, who inbounded for the Bulldogs, looked lost.

He was called for walking on a dead-ball inbounds. Twice, he called timeouts rather than make a pass.

On the second, he called time standing at the top of the key on Georgia's offensive end. Coach Hugh Durman bounded off the bench and screamed, "Why'd you call timeout?"

Inbounding under its offensive basket on another occasion, Georgia threw the ball past mid-court rather than attack the UK defense.

Two Kessler baskets cut into UK's 26-15 lead and began the turnaround.

UK's shooting went cold. The Cats missed their last eight three-point attempts. UK did not make another three-pointer after Miller hit his third with 16:02 left.

The foul line, a place UK figured would be its edge, helped the Georgia comeback. The Bulldogs, shooting 69.5 percent from the line, made 13 of their last 14 attempts.

UK, meanwhile, missed the front end of two one-and-ones in the final 1:50. Over the final 2:36, UK scored only two of a possible six free throw points.

A rare four-point play propelled Georgia to its 51-41 lead.

Kessler, who came into the game having made only one of three three-point attempts, hit one from the corner with 50 seconds left. Fouled by Pelphrey, Kessler made the free throw to make it 49-40.

The second half did not begin well for UK. Georgia hit its six straight shots and built its lead to as much as 65-45.

Pitino called timeout twice in the run.

Kentucky trailed 80-62 when its three-point shooting touch returned. Three straight treys fueled an 11-3 run that brought UK within 10.

The Cats got no closer.

Free throws again helped Georgia. The Bulldogs made 10 straight in the final six minutes to clinch the victory.

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