ATHENS — John Wall had 24 points and No. 3 Kentucky clinched at least a share of the Southeastern Conference regular-season championship by beating Georgia 80-68 on Wednesday night.
Patrick Patterson added 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Wildcats, who scored the first 12 points of the second half and maintained control from there.
Wall hit three 3-pointers to help the Wildcats shake their recent shooting slump. The star freshman added six assists and three steals.
Kentucky (28-2, 13-2 SEC) moved one game ahead of Vanderbilt in the race for the league’s best record. The Wildcats, who swept Vanderbilt, already own the tiebreaker and the top seed in the SEC tournament.
Kentucky, recovering from a loss at Tennessee, also moved closer to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Kentucky, which won a share of its 44th SEC title, snapped a streak of four straight home wins for Georgia (13-15, 5-10).
The Wildcats led 40-36 at halftime before turning up their defensive pressure in the opening minutes of the second half. Georgia, which had six turnovers in the first half, added six turnovers in the first three minutes of the second half.
Kentucky had eight steals and 14 blocks, including a career-high six by freshman DeMarcus Cousins.
Jeremy Price led Georgia with 19 points. Ricky McPhee has 12 points, including three 3-pointers to lead a comeback attempt midway through the second half. McPhee’s 3 with 5:16 remaining cut the Kentucky lead to 72-63. Patterson scored to push the Wildcats’ lead back to double figures.
Georgia’s Trey Thompkins, who was called for his fourth foul with 11:03 remaining, had 12 points.
Travis Leslie had eight points and 10 rebounds.
Kentucky made only two of 22 3-point attempts in Saturday’s 74-65 loss at Tennessee. A recent trend of poor shooting from the perimeter dropped the Wildcats’ to 11th in the league in 3-point shooting at 29.1 percent.
The Wildcats showed from the start they would not be shy about shooting from beyond the 3-point line. Darius Miller missed a 3 on Kentucky’s first possession, but Wall made two 3s in the first 6 minutes. Darnell Dodson, who had 11 points, hit back-to-back 3s later in the opening half.
Georgia took a 23-17 lead midway through the first half.