ATHENS — No. 1 Kentucky overcame a nine-point deficit in the second half to keep its perfect season intact, beating Georgia 72-64 on Tuesday night.
The Wildcats (30-0, 17-0 Southeastern Conference) had won their previous five games by an average of 24 points.
They were really challenged in this one by Georgia (19-10, 10-7), which had the sellout crowd roaring when Yante Maten tipped in a miss of his own shot to put the Bulldogs up 56-47 with 9 minutes remaining.
But Kentucky showed it knows how to win the close games, too. The Wildcats began pounding the ball inside to 6-foot-11 freshman Karl-Anthony Towns, who managed to stay in the game until the closing seconds after picking up his fourth foul.
Kentucky seized the game with a 14-0 run, and Georgia hurt its chances by missing three straight 1-and-1s.
Towns led the Wildcats with 19 points.
Nemanja Djurisic topped Georgia with 18 points, 14 in the first half..
Georgia, using its quickness to offset Kentucky's huge size advantage, had the Wildcats on the ropes after Maten's hustle play capped a 17-4 spurt.
But it was all Kentucky from there, with Towns scoring all but two of his points after halftime.
Kentucky pushed out to its largest lead of the first half at 32-27, taking advantage of a flagrant foul on Kenny Gaines.
But Georgia scored the final five points, the last of them coming on a running floater off the baseline by Djurisic, the ball dropping through the basket as the horn sounded.
Djurisic and the Bulldogs sprinted toward the locker room, tied at 32 and very much in the game. That was a striking change from the first meeting in Lexington, when Kentucky raced out to a 42-27 halftime lead and cruised to an 11-point win.
Kentucky: The Wildcats lead the series with Georgia 119-28. ... The previous best start in school history was 25-0 during the 1953-54 season. ... Kentucky clinched its third 30-win season in John Calipari's six years as coach.
Georgia: Georgia honored its three seniors before the final home game of the regular season. Djurisic, Marcus Thornton and former walk-on Taylor Echols were flanked by their parents as they were introduced at midcourt. Djurisic's parents, who are from Montenegro, were in Athens this past week to see their son play collegiately for the first time. ... Thornton tied the school record for most career games with 129, a mark set by G.G. Smith and Michael Chadwick from 1996-99. ... The Bulldogs have two straight seasons with at least 10 SEC wins for only the second time in school history. The only other time was 2002 and 2003.
Kentucky: Closes the regular season Saturday by hosting Florida.
Georgia: Travels to Auburn on Saturday.