Date story was published: Thursday, January 24, 1985
ATHENS, Ga. - In some ways Kentucky played its best road game of the season last night.
Unfortunately for the now-reeling Wildcats, that wasn't enough against a team on a roll.
That team was Georgia, which defeated UK 81-73 for its fourth straight Southeastern Conference victory.
UK, losing for the third time in four games, fell out of a tie for the SEC lead. The Wildcats dropped to 9-7 overall and 4-3 in the league despite:
Their best shooting performance of the season. The SEC's worst shooting team hit 55.4 percent of their shots.
The revival of James Blackmon's eye. Blackmon had made only 40.4 percent of his shots. Last night he scored 16 points on eight-of-13 shooting.
The continued excellence of Kenny Walker. With family and friends among the crowd of 10,163, the Roberta, Ga., native threw in 28 points and hauled down 17 rebounds.
Sadly for Walker, who again had to operate against a defense tilted heavily in his direction, it wasn't enough.
"They did a great job; what can I say?" Walker said. "They just broke our defense down completely."
Georgia's inside game played well, with freshman center Cedric Henderson scoring 21 and forward Richard Corhen adding 14. Another front-liner, Horace McMillan, came off the bench and chipped in with 12.
Georgia had the game virtually clinched after taking control midway in the second half.
After UK had achieved a 41-38 lead, the Bulldogs clicked. On its next 20 possessions, Georgia scored 16 times. That kind of production propelled the Bulldogs into a 58-50 lead.
UK had its chances to come back. Trailing by seven (62-55) with six minutes left, UK had the opportunity to whittle into the lead. But freshman Ed Davender missed a 15-footer on the fast break. On UK's next possession, Davender fumbled away a low fast-break pass from fellow freshman Richard Madison.
"Freshmen are going to make mistakes," UK coach Joe Hall said, ''especially on the road."
Hall thought the turning point came earlier, before Georgia's 16-for-20 efficiency.
A Blackmon steal and driving dunk pushed UK ahead 41-38 with 17:44. After a Georgia miss, Bret Bearup was fouled on a shot. He missed both free throws, which would have put the Wildcats ahead by five.
"We seemed to have a letup after that," Hall said. "We seemed to be a little sluggish defensively."
A Corhen layup cut UK's lead to 41-40. Then came another break for Georgia, after Blackmon broke up a pass to Georgia guard Gerald Crosby. In the rush for the loose ball, Blackmon appeared to have position ahead of Crosby, but the foul call was on Blackmoon for pushing off. The decision was one of several the Wildcats objected to. This one cost them possession.
The price was yet another layup, this one by Henderson, to give Georgia the lead for good at 42-41.
Henderson's layup began an 8-0 string that threw UK behind for good.
Kentucky had outscored Georgia 11-2 in the final four minutes of the first half to take a 35-32 lead at intermission.
Walker scored four of his 14 first-half points during the spurt.
Center Bret Bearup, did not have a basket in the run, but his passes accounted for six points.
Bearup, who was stationed at the high post, fed freshman Ed Davender for two straight baskets that helped turn a 30-24 Georgia lead into UK's three- point halftime margin.
Bearup also took a feed from Walker and directed the ball to Bennett for a layup in the final second of the half.
UK, which entered the game as the SEC's worst shooting team, didn't look the part in the first half. The Cats made 57 percent of their field-goal attempts (16 of 28). Included in the hot shooting was James Blackmon, who tossed in four perimeter jumpers.
While UK found its shooting eye, the Cats displayed a poor inside defense. Georgia made just two outside shots in the half. Yet the Bulldogs stayed close with no fewer than 12 baskets from inside the lane area.
Hall shuffled his front court, keeping only Walker in the game throughout the half. But Georgia continued to pound away inside. Layups by substitutes Chad Kessler and David Dunn produced Georgia's largest lead of the half, 30-24, with 4:16 remaining.
Except for a Kessler dunk off an inside feed, the Bulldogs couldn't find the basket in the final minutes as UK took charge.
Ominous for UK was the fact that Georgia was so effective inside despite the absence of the Bulldogs' main man on the front line. Cedric Henderson, Georgia's leading scorer and rebounder despite being only a freshman, picked up two fouls and left the game with 13:12 remaining.