Despite the absence of its key front-line player, Georgia outrebounded long, tall Kentucky by 12 Tuesday night. The how, what (?!) and why of such a development screamed for an explanation.
But neither side suggested an exotic one.
"Well, you know, I think we've got a pretty scrappy team," Georgia Coach Mark Fox said. "They do have great size and they have a terrific defensive team. They have great length. And we felt like rebounding the ball would be important tonight."
Then, Fox added, "It's nothing that we did special, to be honest with you."
Georgia players echoed that sentiment. No secret formula or innovation.
"Try to box out," forward Nemanja Djurisic said. "That was the main thing we talked about. We had to box out."
Added guard Charles Mann: "We just stayed aggressive and tried to get the rebound."
Georgia's leading rebounder, Marcus Thornton, sat out the game while dealing with concussion symptoms. One of his replacements, freshman Yante Maten, led the Bulldogs with nine rebounds.
In this and other seasons, UK Coach John Calipari has stressed the importance of perimeter players helping the big men get rebounds. For what it's worth, Georgia's three starting guards out-rebounded their three UK counterparts 14-2. Mann led the way with six rebounds. Counting backcourt reserves, the margin was 16-2 in Georgia's favor.
Georgia used quickness to beat Kentucky to many so-called 50-50 balls.
Karl-Anthony Towns kept Kentucky competitive on the boards. He grabbed 13 rebounds (four more than all his teammates combined; UK also had two "team" rebounds). He, too, offered a back-to-basics explanation.
"Just position," he said. "Getting better position. Using my length. Using my athleticism."
Then Towns added, "It really all starts with position. You can be the greatest leaper in the world. But if you don't get position to rebound, it really doesn't do you much" good.
Towns also noted the importance of taking the initiative, of imposing a will rather than reacting to an opponent's purposeful action.
"Hitting the person first and making sure I had the position," he said. "I had the paint secured. When the ball comes off, I can go grab it without any interference."
When asked what he thought of Georgia winning the rebound battle 36-24, Towns said, "We just have to get better position.
"Everything is a process. We're not going to be perfect in every respect every day. We have to do a better job making sure we initiate the contact."
Actually, the Georgia game continued a pattern. The Bulldogs became the third opponent in the past four games to outrebound Kentucky. That happened only twice in the season's first 18 games.
Southeastern Conference play has affected Kentucky's rebounding adversely. Going into league play, UK ranked No. 8 nationally in rebound margin at plus 10.4.
In the first nine SEC games, opponents have battled Kentucky evenly on the boards. UK's margin is plus 1.5 (33.7-32.2).
Kentucky's next opponent, Florida, got hammered on the boards at Vanderbilt on Tuesday. Vandy outrebounded the Gators 42-26. That left Florida dead even as a rebounding team against SEC opponents through nine games: 31.7-31.7.
With Kentucky's one-for-all mantra in a season in which the roster is bursting with talent and potential playing time issues, Towns recoiled from the suggestion his 13 rebounds reflected a realization that he had to do a job his teammates failed to perform.
"I never feel like that," he said. "Because we have so much length and athleticism, I always feel we're going to get every rebound."
That has hardly been the case lately. In the past four games, opponents have out-rebounded Kentucky by an average margin of 5.3.