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No. 14 Kentucky routs Georgia, 79-54

POSTED: January 25, 2014 4:35 p.m.
James Crisp | Associated Press/

Kentucky's Alex Poythress (22) shoots as Georgia's Marcus Thornton defends during the first half of Saturday's game in Lexington, Ky.

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Aaron Harrison scored 15 points and No. 14 Kentucky pulled away from Georgia for a 79-54 victory Saturday.

Julius Randle added 14 points while James Young had 13 including a couple of second-half 3-pointers for Kentucky (15-4, 5-1 Southeastern Conference), which won its third straight.

Georgia (10-8, 4-2) had gotten within 37-31 with 16:18 remaining before the Wildcats steadily built a double-digit lead that rarely got below 20 points.

Georgia outrebounded Kentucky 35-32 but shot just 16 of 49 (33 percent) and was outscored 36-24 in the paint in the only regular season meeting between the schools.

Brandon Morris had 15 points for Georgia, which played without starting guard Kenny Gaines and backup Juwan Parker because of thigh and hamstring injuries, respectively. That resulted in a four-forward starting lineup that eventually helped the Bulldogs control the boards, but they couldn't stop Kentucky inside as the Wildcats shot 50 percent (29 of 58).

Alex Poythress had 11 points for Kentucky, which had 11 of 12 players score and finished 5 of 12 from 3-point range. Seven-footer Willie Cauley-Stein recovered from a recent lull with eight points, six steals, six blocks and three rebounds.

Georgia meanwhile had its two-game winning streak stopped three days after a 97-76 drubbing of South Carolina highlighted by a school record-tying 50 free throw attempts. The Bulldogs had built their modest surge with strong rebounding and entered Saturday with a +10.4 margin per game to rank just ahead of third-place Wildcats (+10.0) in SEC play.

That category figured to be a challenge for Georgia with 6-9 Donte' Williams as its tallest starter facing Kentucky's long, tall lineup featuring Cauley-Stein and a trio of 6-6 guards including Young, Harrison and his twin brother Andrew. Compounding the Bulldogs' mission were absences by Gaines and Parker, depriving them of 17 combined points that could have helped against the Wildcats.

Georgia somehow succeeded in outrebounding Kentucky but couldn't get the loose ball when it needed to in the second half. And while Morris picked up the offensive load, he scored just three points in the second half.

Leading scorer Charles Mann and Georgia's only starting guard, scored nine points on 1-of-9 shooting. Marcus Thorton had 10 points and nine rebounds.

Kentucky stayed with Cauley-Stein in the middle, hoping he would play bigger again after a recent slump including just two blocks, 10 rebounds and three points in his last three games. Though coach John Calipari was prepared to go to fellow 7-footer Dakari Johnson following his solid game against Texas A&M, his wish was getting its big man out of his funk.

Cauley-Stein delivered, beginning with a solid first half including five steals and three blocks that offset his only points coming on two free throws with 2.6 seconds remaining. More important was how he contributed to Kentucky's strong defensive start that held Georgia to 29 percent shooting and resulted in the Wildcats' 34-22 lead at halftime.

Kentucky was 12 of 25 (48 percent) from the field in the half with Poythress' seven points leading a balanced attack in which every Wildcat who played scored except reserves Dominique Hawkins and Jarrod Polson, who scored two points.

Cauley-Stein appeared more confident in the second half and helped Kentucky break the game open before 23,367 who made it to Rupp Arena despite several inches of snow that fell overnight.

 




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