Mike White's Georgia Bulldogs get back in the win column after beating John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats 75-68. This is the first time since the 1989-1990 season that UGA has beaten Kentucky at home in back to back games. The last time the Wildcats came to Athens was in 2021, and the Dawgs edged out Kentucky that day with a score of 63-62.
Kario Oquendo led the Dawgs in the first half to a 42-32 lead over Kentucky after 20 minutes of play. Georgia was 42% from the floor on 13-31 shooting and shot 4-13 from the arc for 31%. Kentucky's field goal percentage was lower than UGA's at 35% on 11-31 shooting, but they made 4 of the 10 threes, adding up to 40%. Georgia was perfect from the charity stripe, making all 12 free throws, while Kentucky went 6-8. Even with Oscar Tshiebwe's presence in the paint, Georgia led on the boards 21-19.
The Wildcats started the second half on fire, and this game looked like it was going to get ugly for the Dawgs. They opened the half on a 20-6 run to gain a 52-48 lead. In previous years, the Dawgs would've quit and given up, but this Mike White led team is different. After surrendering the lead, Georgia went on a 7-0 run of their own. That run came from two huge shots in the paint from Braelen Bridges and a three pointer from Justin Hill. Bridges and Hill were the stories for the UGA offense in the second period, as they combined for 19 second half points. Bridges showed no fear in going right at the defending national player of the year, Oscar Tshiebwe, and earned multiple baskets against the star player. Georgia never gave the lead up again. Mike White's squad finished the day shooting 41% (22-54) from the field and 32% (6-19) from three point land. John Calipari's team made 26-65 shots for a field goal percentage of 38%, while going 35% from beyond the arc on 7-20 attempts. Kentucky was able to grab one more rebound than Georgia for the game, with the Wildcats having 38 boards to UGA's 37. Georgia's ability to make free throws down the stretch was another key to this game. The Dawgs made 25 free throws in this game to the Cats' 11.
Terry Roberts missed the last two games with a concussion but returned to the floor tonight. While Justin Hill got the start, Roberts still played 23 minutes in this game. Since the Roberts injury, Hill has made the absence less of an issue for the Bulldogs. In those three games, Hill has 48 points and 16 assists, becoming a significant threat to score whenever he has the ball.
Kentucky had three players finishing in double figures. Jacob Toppin finished the game with 12 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists. Austin Reeves and Oscar Tshiebwe both finished with 20 points and 6 or more rebounds. The Dawgs were able to limit Tshiebwe on the boards a little better than last game. His 6'9" frame makes him a significant threat when it comes to getting rebounds and he finished with 14 this game. The last time these two teams met, he had 24 rebounds, so holding him to 14 is a win for this Georgia team. Kentucky has likely fallen out of Championship contention with the loss. They are 16-9 on the year with a 6-3 record in the SEC.
Georgia also finished with three players in double figures, with Kario Oquendo, Justin Hill, and Brealen Bridges leading the way. Oquendo scored 21 points and was a massive part of Georgia jumping to a 10 point lead at halftime. Hill had 15 points and 6 assists, while Bridges finished with 12 points and 5 rebounds. Jabri Abdur-Rahim was money from the three point line, making 3-4 shots from behind the arc. Abdur-Rahim arguably had one of the biggest shots of the game. With 2:56 remaining, he nailed a three to put the Dawgs up 6, ripping out the hearts of the Wildcats.
White's team improves their record to 15-10 overall and 5-7 in the conference. White has already exceeded many expectations in his first year running the UGA program. With 6 games remaining in the regular season, the Dawgs will be looking to continue their great season and try to get hot before heading to Nashville for the SEC Tournament.
Georgia looks to carry the momentum to the LSU Tigers on Tuesday in Stegman Coliseum. The game will be on SEC Network with tip off set for 8:30 PM EST.