Kentucky defeated Georgia 66-61 in Rupp Arena

Highlights from UK Sports Video

Game notes

From UK Athletics 
ATTENDANCE: 22,682

Final Score: No. 16/15 Kentucky 66, Georgia 61

Team Records and Series Notes

  • Kentucky is 11-2 and has won two in a row. Georgia is 9-3. This was the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.
  • Kentucky leads the series 125-26 and has won 10 in a row vs. the Bulldogs.
    • UK leads the series 61-5 in Lexington.
  • Kentucky begins the new year on Wednesday at LSU. Game time is 8:30 p.m. EST (7:30 p.m. CST in Baton Rouge, La.) and it will be televised on the SEC Network.

In the First Half

  • Kentucky’s starting lineup featured Quade Green, Hamidou Diallo, PJ Washington, Kevin Knox and Nick Richards for the 11th time this season. UK is 9-2 with this lineup.
  • Georgia got off to a good start, scoring the first six points of the game.
  • With the Wildcats trailing 10-4, Georgia went scoreless for more than six minutes while UK’s Green scored eight straight points to give the Wildcats their first lead of the game at 12-10.
    • Green connected on a 3-pointer with 13:40 remaining, giving Kentucky 1,026 consecutive games with a 3-pointer.
  • Georgia regained the lead and had its largest advantage at 27-20 before UK scored the last six points of the half.
  • Green had 13 points in the first half, tying his highest scoring first half of the season (Vermont).
  • Wenyen Gabriel came off the bench to claim eight rebounds, the best rebounding first half of any Wildcat this season. (Originally credited with nine on halftime box, revision came later.)
  • UK is 3-2 this season when trailing at halftime.

In the Second Half

  • After going 0 of 11 from 3-point range in the first half, Georgia opened the second stanza with two straight long balls to stretch the Bulldog lead to 33-26.  Ironically, it was the only two 3-pointers that Georgia hit all night.
    • UK has held its last two opponents to 5 of 46 from behind the arc.
  • The Dogs continued hot, scoring on their first five possessions to go up 39-31.
  • Trailing 42-34, Kentucky gradually worked its way back and got the lead back at 47-46 with eight minutes to play.
  • Again trailing, this time at 53-49, UK’s 7-0 spurt gave the Cats a lead they would not relinquish at 56-53.
  • Ahead 58-57, UK got a driving layup by Gilgeous-Alexander with 1:56 to go, a 3-pointer by Gabriel at the 1:08 mark, and a foul shot by Gilgeous-Alexander with 37 seconds on the clock to push the cushion to 64-57.

Team Notes

  • UK held Georgia to 61 points.  UK is 150-5 under Coach John Calipari when the opponent scores 63 or fewer points.
  • UK held Georgia to 39.7 percent from the field.  UK is 6-1 this season when keeping the opponent under 40 percent.
  • UK limited Georgia to 2 of 21 from 3-point range, 9.5 percent.
    • The last time UK held an opponent to that few 3-pointers was Jan. 21, 2016 at Arkansas, when the Razorbacks made 2 of 12.
    • The last time UK held an opponent under 10 percent from long range was Nov. 13, 2015, when Albany made 7.1 percent (1 of 14).
  • UK outrebounded Georgia 42-38.  The Wildcats have tied or outrebounded the opponent in 11 of 13 games this season.
  • UK won tonight despite shooting a season-low 31.5 percent from the field.
  • UK made 27 of 38 at the foul line, season highs in both categories.
  • UK had a season-low nine turnovers. After struggling in that department earlier in the season, UK is averaging just 11.2 miscues over the last four games.
  • Despite the concern about emotional letdown after playing rival Louisville, UK is 11-0 under Coach Calipari in the game immediately following the Cardinals.
  • Kentucky has won 15 in a row in Rupp Arena.

Player Notes

  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander played the super-sub role again, coming off the bench to post game highs with 21 points, four assists and three steals.
    • He had 24 points, four assists and three steals Friday vs. Louisville.
  • Hamidou Diallo had 10 points, his seventh consecutive game in double figures.  He is averaging 17.6 points per game during that stretch.
    • Diallo also snagged nine rebounds, one shy of his career high.
  • Quade Green carried the offense in the first half and finished with 15 points. It is his eighth double-figure game of the season.
  • Wenyen Gabriel contributed six points and 11 rebounds, his third double-figure board game of the season.

Coach John Calipari

  • Calipari has a 705-195 all-time on-court record.
  • Calipari is now 260-55 at Kentucky.
  • Calipari is 144-6 at Rupp Arena, including 126-3 against unranked opponents.
  • Calipari is 15-2 vs. Georgia in his career.

Postgame interviews

John Calipari 

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 

Wenyen Gabriel

Hamidou Diallo

Mark Fox

Box score

Season Stats

Quotes

From UK Athletics

John Calipari

JOHN CALIPARI: Normally I like long guards. Tyler Ulis was different and then got me to say, if a kid can really play basketball, like Quade (Green), I’m good. But, he’s really got to be able to play. Bigger guards just create havoc for you. They can score on your bigs, and like I said after, he’s our best player (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander). I said the greatest thing about him, he’s coming off the bench and not saying anything. Don’t worry about his shots or anything, he’s just playing. Smiles the whole game. Got some guys with the weight of the world on their shoulders. (It’s) got to stop.

That was as selfish as any of my teams have played in a while in that first half. I got to say this and you guys know Mark (Fox) and I are friends, but this is the third game we were very lucky. He came in with an unbelievable game plan, had his team ready to beat us. Most teams are intimidated by this building, Mark’s teams are not. They’re not intimidated by this building. That’s because of him.

Again, until I watch the tape I don’t even know how we won this game. We shot 20 percent in the half. We didn’t show them any video. I said if you don’t pass the ball to each other we’re not winning anyway. Love the fact that Hami (Hamidou Diallo) rebounded the ball. We got to get Nick (Richards) back. Nick struggled and fouled and they were both fouls. You fouled.

So then Sacha (Killeya-Jones) is doing better, but he didn’t come up with that ball late. Air ball and he’s standing there looking at it go over his head. I can’t leave you in the game them. We have to have that ball. I don’t care what you say, you can speak another language, I’m not listening. You have to get that ball. But, he’s getting so much better and playing so much better.

P.J. (Washington) was good after having that foul trouble. One (foul) on the sideline, a guard, why would you do that? Why body him? The other was kind of iffy, but the first one was a foul. So now you have two and I’m not going to lose the game in the first half. You get two (fouls), I’m not playing you unless the game’s getting away. Then I’ll play you. If the game’s not getting away and it’s close, you’re not playing with two fouls, you get three and then we lose it in the first half? No. No, we’ll try to win it down the stretch.

So Quade, again, played good today and the only reason I didn’t play him late, was defense because we were going to switch pick-and-rolls. Shai could guard the guy and– I didn’t think he could guard him. But how about how he picked up and he showed he could play like Tyler Ulis? Did you see him pick up and active and move his feet? That’s really hard. It’s hard to do that. It’s easy to just back away. Now that he’s proven he can do it, that’s who he’s going to have to be.

Q. Speaking of down the stretch, in a possession-by-possession game, how did you think your team executed down the stretch?
JOHN CALIPARI: Good. I thought they did good. We made the plays we had to make. Missed some free throws. Missed — but again, well, you missed free throws, wrong guys at the line. If Quade or Shai is at the line, we’re making eight out of nine. We got some other guys who are going to have to prove late in the game that we can go at them. See if you can’t make free throws, we cannot go at you because they’re going to foul you and then by you missing two it’s the most disappointing, depressing, it just takes the energy out of you.

I was putting Quade in late just so he would get fouled. He went it in and made those. The zone helped us again today. I overruled and won the last play to go zone out of that have timeout. Everybody’s saying go man. I said no, we’re playing zone. So I can’t remember if it helped us or if we got the ball or not, I can’t remember. I think we got it and then missed free throws.

Q. Is there something in particular here lately, that is — he’s (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander) played well all season, but that has unleashed Shai a little bit?
JOHN CALIPARI: He smiles. I’m just going to tell you, I asked Sam Cassell one time, because Sam Cassell was the best late-game player I’ve ever coached. Late in the game, he would make the free throws, make the right — he never turned it over. He would make a shot or he would spoon feed somebody. And I said to him, ‘so, why late are you a guy that’s going to make the shot or free throws?’ And he said, because I’m not afraid to miss them. See when you think every basket, miss or make, identifies who you are, it’s hard to play. Because every shot is like oh, man, I can’t play, I can’t play, I can’t play, I can’t play. You can’t be that. Shai’s just playing. Quade just plays that way too, to be honest with you. We just, he has some habits he’s got to — we’re trying to create different habits at times. Especially defensively. Just stay in front of people. But, he kind of plays that way too.

Q. Are you concerned with (Kevin) Knox at all? He seems to be really in a funk here lately.
JOHN CALIPARI: He and Nick too. But you’re talking about Kevin Knox, the youngest freshman in the country, and again, as a coach I always want to evaluate them when things are not going great. How are you now? How are you in practice? Are you alibiing? Are you looking for excuses or are you coming to work? Because there’s only one way to break out. You can’t talk your way out, you can’t listen to — well, he takes you out every time you make a mistake and everybody watches and says, he shoots it whenever he wants, so that’s not true. So now it becomes, OK, how do I break this? You get in there and work. This kid is a hard worker, he’s a great kid. This is all new to him, the game got physical, it’s all new to him. So, I’m not going to leave him in there to fail, but I kept putting him in, putting him in and for us to be any good, Kevin’s got to be that guy. I’m calling his number a lot, still calling his number, even if he is not playing great, because I know he has to play for us to win.

Q. Next week will be about a year since Hamidou came. Where is his game at now? You mentioned rebounding.
JOHN CALIPARI: Way better. He’s not even the same player. But he’s got a ways to go. Like grinding it on defense, he takes chances instead of grinding it, because it’s like, I’ll just try to steal this versus really lock in and play. Because he’s not used to doing it. Shot selection. When you have a green light your shot selection has to be better. I’m letting him go, but you can’t take bad shots. That’s not fair to your teammates, because they don’t have the green light that you have. So he’s learning that. Did you see that drive to the basket? The post up and then the drive to the basket? Why not do that more? Why do a do do-do and a fade away? Well, it looks better. What? What are you talking about? Just do it. You’re so athletic and long and good with the ball, why wouldn’t you just go?

So, he’s learning all that stuff. But, he’s trying, he’s a great kid. Look, these are a bunch of great kids, but they — somebody said, after the Louisville game, do you think they will revert? And I said, I don’t know. I hope not. And guess what? We reverted. But, in the end we defended, we tried, we fought, we pressured, we scrambled, we out-rebounded a big team that’s a good rebounding team.

Georgia’s going to do fine. Mark’s an unbelievable coach. I’m happy we’re not playing them again unless it’s postseason. We’re done. Because every time we play them it is just like this. If you remember the game down at Georgia, they’re up, we’re up, they’re up, we’re up, they’re up, we’re up, we’re up, they’re up, they’re up, they’re up, they’re up, we’re up and we make it down the stretch, we make a play. And then here they had us down 12-0 last year. Do you remember? It’s 29-29 at halftime. And we were lucky to win that game. And then, we were just talking, this is our first league game. Now, if you look back, you remember Mississippi? Like double overtime? Was that with the ’14-’15 team? The team that went 38-0? I mean, it’s league. It’s hard. It’s hard. But it’s a ‘W’ and I told them to enjoy it.

Q. What did you think about Wenyen’s (Gabriel) energy on the glass and defensively and —
JOHN CALIPARI: He was good. The only thing is, you guys understand what I’m trying to get him to do when he catches the ball. What?

Q. Shoot it.
JOHN CALIPARI: Or pass it. Please, don’t try this other stuff. Mark it down, if you’re a guy keeping stats, when he passes up a shot and ball fakes and start to run, go, turnover. You can do it. I’m allowing you. And he’s playing for a coach that’s saying to him, if you are open, shoot it every single time. Play like Derek Willis played. Shoot the ball. And you know what? Here’s a kid that fights and tries and knows. I said, why did you do it? I don’t know. Why did you do it? Just shoot the ball. But he’s another great kid. I’m really happy with he and Sacha because they’re getting better.

Q. You said that that first half was as selfish as one of your teams has played in a while. Why do you think that was, especially as good as you played two nights ago?
JOHN CALIPARI: I don’t know, every guy was trying to score. You know what a ball stopper is when you’re on offense? The ball, beep, beep, and that guy get it and he goes like that and tries that — well we had three ball stoppers. It was going to a guy and he held it. Three guys guarding him, I’m shooting it anyway. How about the easy pass up the court to the guy? Nah, I’m going to wait. Then our point guard was dribbling the length of the floor and trying to shoot it. He did. Guys ahead, he just dribbled the length of the court and he got fouled, so he thought he was good. Wait a minute. Every guy on the team and no one’s passing because we’re playing this way. So we’ll probably Tuesday — they’re going to be off tomorrow — but Tuesday we’re going to do 10 passes, you must pass, you cannot dribble. You must get open and pass the ball. They’re going to think it’s boring. This is boring. But we have to pass to each other, we have to create shots for each other. We’re good enough to do that. Every team, how are they starting to play us now because you hear me drive the ball, drive the ball there. So you drive it, for what reason? To run three people over and the officials and two cheerleaders? No, you drive the ball to pass it. What? No, you drive the ball and they collapse. Well I want to try to shoot this. Well you got two cheerleaders and a referee and three players guarding you. I know, but I can get this off. So, again, it’s the same thing, just an easy pass, make each other better. Hopefully we’ll learn from this and, but we did what we had to down the stretch to win, we made the plays we had to make. Wenyen had a big three, Shai had a big three, we offensive rebounded three balls down the stretch and made the plays we had to make.

Q. Opponents the last two games are 5-for-46 from 3-point range. Is that fools gold? Have you changed something defensively or what?
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, again, we watched the UCLA tape. The 12 threes that they shot, we were nowhere in sight. All 12. It was H-O-R-S-E. Now you see us running at people. You see us running through. We’re desperate to get to the guy versus, wow, he got that shot. We’re now in a desperate mode. We’re practicing that way. The guys are getting to three-point shooters. Now there were some threes that were open today that they missed, but there were a bunch that were covered. So we’re getting better with that, but you’re seeing teams, when a team makes 12, 15 threes against you, you’re probably going to lose.
UK Player Quotes

#22, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Fr., G

On if something in particular has unleashed him the past few games …

“I’ve watched film a lot lately, and after the UCLA game, I realized there were spots where I let the defense off the hook and stuff like that where I could’ve attacked them and put pressure on them. I’ve just tried to take advantage of that in these last two games.”

On the difference between the second and the first halves …

“I think in the first half we were selfish as a group and we weren’t really playing for each other. We talked about it at halftime, came together as a team and worked together on both ends of the floor, and I think that’s why we won the game.”

His reaction to Coach Cal’s high remarks …

“I don’t really worry about it too much, honestly. I know Coach is a good coach and he’s gonna put all of us in the position to be successful as a group and as individuals, so I’m not worried about that.”

#3, Hamidou Diallo, RS-Fr., G

On how Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been playing…

“He’s competing and coming out there with a different mindset. He’s really helping our team. He’s been the best player on the floor the last two games and he’s really been helping us and that’s the nature of our team. We have seven or eight guys that can come on the floor and be the best player on any given night.”

On not playing well but still winning the game …

“Every game’s not going to be a game where you’re hitting shots and making field goals. So like today, I mean, I didn’t make as many field goals as I wanted to, but you have to bring something else to the table. I just try to bring energy, rebounding, and defending. That’s what I did, and I feel like that helped us get back in the game in the second half.”

On playing well against Louisville and not as well today against Georgia …

“That’s a part of the game, it’s a bumpy road, it’s an up and down roller coaster and there’s going to be highs and lows. You’re just going have to fight through it and you’re going have to try to get out of the hole that you’re in. That’s the main thing about it. By doing that, you’re going tp have to bring other things to the game. You can’t just rely on scoring the ball or just rely on how you’re doing, it’s all about the team.”

#32, Wenyen Gabriel, So., F

On being worried about the performance coming off a big win …

“I mean, I was coming in this game trying to do the same thing we did against Louisville – try to come in with the intensity we did in the second half. Obviously, we didn’t come through with that in the first half, but we came together at halftime and second half we picked it up.”

On Coach Cal’s reference to the team playing selfish in the first half…

“I think we just weren’t really moving the ball and we weren’t trusting each other too much in the first half. When we came together in the second half, we were realizing we needed each other. I feel like in the Louisville game we came in competing, playing ball, and sharing together. I think that’s the team that we are. So, I think in the first half we weren’t playing as the type of team we are. I’m just happy we picked it back up.”

On playing like Coach Calipari wants him to …

“Yeah he’s been trying to get me to let it fly. I mean I kind of beat myself up every time and end up turning it over or something. I kind of use that for fuel for the next play.”

Georgia Head Coach Mark Fox

Opening statement…

“We’ve had a lot of good games with Kentucky. They made the plays that they needed to make to win the game. We had one little stretch where we didn’t take care of it in the second half and we lost our lead. We didn’t shoot it great tonight based upon our shot selection, thought we were really rushed but congrats to their team on a hard fought win.”

On William Jackson II picking up fourth foul…

“That was big obviously. His foul trouble had a significant impact on the game certainly.”

On having a nine day off advantage against UK only having two days off…

“No I don’t think we had any advantage for that we went home for the holidays. It’s not like we practiced every day.”

On Kentucky’s poor shooting performance…

“I would like to credit our defense for some of that. You know I think we have a team when we are locked in mentally can be a good defensive team. I thought we made some real critical errors that cost us some points and ultimately probably had we not made those errors we could have overcome our shooting woes and won the game.”

On Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s game…

“Well he has good size. He’s able to sustain his dribble and draws fouls. We lost the game by five and lost the free throw line by 14 and he made a bunch of them and he’s good. He can sustain his dribble and put himself in position to draw fouls.”

On amount of fouls compared to previous games this season…

“You know Kentucky puts you in a lot of difficult positions with their length and penetration. So obviously they are very aggressive on the dribble playing downhill and in transition and that led to quite a bit of that.”

On his technical foul in the first half …

“Well there were back to back plays that I thought were similar and they had different outcomes so that is what I was disappointed in.”

On playing Kentucky after their emotional rivalry game…

“That game wasn’t emotional. They steamrolled Louisville. That game wasn’t emotional for Kentucky. They sat there in the second half and drank Gatorade. That wasn’t an emotional game in my opinion. They weren’t drained, guys didn’t play huge minutes, they were as fresh as could be. I don’t think that was emotional in my opinion at all. Now I wasn’t here, you were so I may be inaccurate in that but that’s what I think.”

 

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