The perception is Kentucky and Georgia have played close of late, but heading into Friday’s quarterfinal matchup in the SEC Tournament, the Cats hold a 10-game win streak over the Bulldogs.
Mark Fox’s team has not beaten UK since a 72-62 win over the Cats on March 7, 2013. Yes, that’s the 2012-13 Kentucky team that lost in the first round of the NIT. Since then, UK has reeled off 10 straight wins, with four -- 72-64 at Georgia in 2015; 90-81 in overtime and 82-77 in 2017 and 66-61 this year -- coming by less than double digits.
This season, Kentucky prevailed on New Year’s Eve at Rupp Arena. John Calipari’s team shot 31.5 percent but still escaped the win. Georgia shot 39.7 percent, but the Bulldogs missed 19 of its 21 three-point attempts.
Yante Maten, the SEC Player of the Year as voted by the media, scored 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in that game. The senior forward did not score his first points until the 5:57 mark when his tip-in gave Georgia a 17-15 lead.
In fact, Georgia led UK 42-34 with 14:29 remaining and 53-49 with 5:21 left. UK ripped off seven straight points, highlighted by a Shai Gilgeous-Alexander three-pointer, to take a 56-53 lead with 4:10 remaining.
Gilgeous-Alexander finished with 21 points in that first game. The freshman made 12 of 13 free throws. He was also credited with four assists compared to one turnover in 33 minutes.
Kevin Knox did not shoot well in that first meeting, making just two of 10 shots. Knox finished with seven points, four rebounds and three assists.
One big difference for the Bulldogs is freshman guard Teshaun Hightower. Back in December, Hightower played just five minutes, missing his only two shots, both three-point attempts. It has been a much different story in the SEC Tournament.
Hightower scored 13 points in 21 minutes in the Dawgs’ 78-62 in over Vanderbilt on Wednesday night. Thursday, Hightower again scored 13 points, this time in 22 minutes, in Georgia’s 62-60 win over Missouri.
In two games, Hightower has made nine of 15 shots, including four of six three-point attempts. He is four-of-five from the foul line and has eight assists with zero turnovers.
Georgia has lost three straight to Kentucky in the SEC Tournament, losing 70-58 in 2014, 93-80 in 2-16 and 71-60 last season.
The Bulldogs last win over the Cats in the conference tournament came 10 years ago in the tornado-marred event in Atlanta. When damage to the Georgia Dome postponed the Friday night game to Saturday morning, Dennis Felton’s Bulldogs beat Billy Gillispie’s Cats 60-56 in overtime at Georgia Tech.
Kentucky vs. Georgia
When: Friday, 3:20 p.m. ET
Where: Scottrade Center in St. Louis
TV: ESPN with Joe Tessitore, Sean Farnham and Laura Rutledge
Radio: UK Network with Tom Leach and Mike Pratt
Kentucky’s last 10 games vs. Georgia
Kentucky’s last 10 games vs. SEC opponents
Note: Missouri and Texas A&M contain SEC games only