Date story published: Thursday, February 18, 1999
Kentucky added to the list of outlandish numbers associated with its basketball program last night.
To 876 (Adolph Rupp's career victories) and 129 (home-court winning streak from 1943 to 1955) and 3-for-33 (UK's shooting in the second half against Georgetown) add this:
Midway through the second half, Kentucky enjoyed that surreal rebounding advantage.
Its 92-71 victory assured, UK relaxed down the stretch. That enabled Georgia to reduce its final rebound defeat to a relatively tolerable 49-24.
But even that margin seemed unreal to UK Coach Tubby Smith.
"I think we need to check who keeps the stats," Smith joked.
Actually, the UK coach probably preferred someone check his team's rapid pulse. Better still, then figure out how to keep it on this steady beat.
Playing with more zip than shown in recent weeks, Kentucky never trailed on the scoreboard and invoked a no-fly zone on the boards that Georgia rarely penetrated.
"It's just the will," backup big man Jamaal Magloire said of UK's dominance. "Our attitude was like food, rebounding the ball. Like somebody else was trying to take our food. Or you get it and eat."
UK's feast was Georgia's famine. The Cats outrebounded Georgia 25-3 in the first half. Georgia, which entered the game ranked 11th in the SEC in rebounding margin, did not have an offensive rebound until more than five minutes elapsed in the second half.
"Tonight's game was unbelievably frustrating for our team," said Georgia freshman D.A. Layne, who scored a game-high 24 points. "We have to get rebounds and get in our opponents' faces from now on. We just did not do that tonight."
Hard to believe UK had been outrebounded in its last two games, and four of the last nine.
Kentucky improved to 21-6 overall and 10-3 in the Southeastern Conference. The latter enabled the Cats to remain a game ahead of second-place Tennessee in the SEC Eastern Division race.
Georgia, which saw leading scorer and rebounder Jumaine Jones slowed by an injury to his right hip, fell to 14-11 overall and 5-8 in the SEC. The Bulldogs' flickering NCAA Tournament chances grew fainter as their record against ranked teams fell to 0-6.
Jones hobbled to the bench with a hip pointer at the - certainly unlucky for Georgia - 13:13 mark of the first half. Jones returned to the game but favored his hip. He played just 16 minutes and grabbed a career-low one rebound. He scored seven points, 27 fewer than his total against UK last month in Athens.
"When Jumaine went down, that's taking away a No. 1 weapon," Smith said of Jones, Georgia's leading scorer (19.6 ppg) and rebounder (9.7 rpg). "It's certainly going to be a long evening."
But UK forward Scott Padgett cautioned against overstating the effect Jones' injury had on the game.
"He wasn't himself," Padgett conceded. "So it probably helped us. But I think we played well when he was in there."
No individual player led Kentucky's rebounding dominance. None grabbed double-digit rebounds. Seven got four or more.
Nor did UK often grab clusters of rebounds in a single trip downcourt. The Cats quietly and completely owned the boards.
Kentucky enjoyed balanced scoring, too. Seniors Heshimu Evans and Wayne Turner led seven UK players in double-digits with 13 points each. It marked the first time since 1994 that UK placed seven players in double figures.
UK led 47-31 at intermission.
Freshman Desmond Allison got Kentucky off to a quick start. He scored six points in the first four minutes. Those points helped UK build leads of 8-0 and 16-7 .
Georgia's most dangerous weapon, the three-point shot, kept the game close for a while. The Bulldogs made six of eight shots from beyond the line in the first half. Layne, the league's best three-point marksman, made four of five three-point shots. His seven treys for the game equalled Chris Jackson's record for a UK opponent in Rupp Arena.
One of Layne's bombs came after UK took a 26-16 lead. It fueled a 7-0 Georgia run.
But a pretty play by Allison stemmed the momentum. After missing a three-point shot from the corner, he leaped high for the rebound and directed a one-hand touch pass to teammate Mike Bradley. Bradley's dunk brought a roar from the crowd.
Kentucky outscored the Bulldogs 15-2 the rest of the half. Eight of those points came off second-chance opportunities.
A textbook-like play punctuated Kentucky's half. Padgett set a screen for Saul Smith. Then Padgett faded for a pass from Smith. Padgett hit a three-pointer with two seconds left to set the halftime score.