Georgia basketball loses double-digit lead at Kentucky, falls 85-71

Georgia's Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe drives in Rupp Arena against Kentucky on Tuesday, Jan. 17 2023.
Georgia basketball

Georgia basketball went toe to toe with mighty Kentucky on Tuesday night, but the Bulldogs simply could not measure up.

Specifically, Georgia (13-5, 3-2 SEC) had no answer or match for reigning national player of the year Oscar Tshiebwe, a 6-foot-9, 260-pound force in the paint.

The Wildcats (12-6, 3-3) beat Georgia by an 85-71 count at thunderous Rupp Arena in an ESPN-televised game of two halves.

Tshiebwe scored 37 points and pulled down 24 rebounds, hitting on 12 of 20 shots from the floor and 13 of 18 from the free-throw line after drawing 12 fouls.

It was the SEC’s first 30-20 game since South Carolina’s Sindarius Thornwell accomplished the feat in 2017.

“He was unbelievable, credit him and his mentality and his motor,” UGA coach Mike White said. “We didn’t match it at all.”

The Bulldogs were able to overcome the 23-year-old Kentucky senior in the first half with hot shooting, building a 42-34 lead at intermission on 55 percent marksmanship.

“Our energy level early second half didn’t match our first half’s effort, and that’s on me,” White said. “We were pretty sharp, we played a good 20 (minutes) and put ourselves win position to be competitive at Rupp.”

UGA was up 11 points as late as the 56-second mark of the first half.

Terry Roberts scored 13 of his team-high 21 points through the first 20 minutes, draining his jump shots and getting to the rim.

“We’ve got to stop the dribble drive,” Wildcats coach John Calipari said during his ESPN halftime interview.

Kentucky did just that early in the second half, reclaiming the lead at 46-45 with 17:11 left with a 12-3 burst.

The Bulldogs battled to stay close, Kario Oquendo slamming home two of his 18 points with 12:18 left to tie the game at 57-57.

Kentucky scored the next two baskets, however, and Georgia did not pull even the rest of the night.

The Wildcats controlled the rebounding, holding a decided 44-31 advantage.

Georgia further damaged its hopes for an upset -- it was an 11-point underdog -- by going cold from the free-throw line, just 16-of-24 shooting from the charity stripe on the night, including 8 of 15 in the second half.

The Bulldogs have dropped 11 straight to Kentucky in Rupp Arena dating back to a 90-85 win on March 4, 2009, when Terrance Woodbury scored 30 points against a UK team featuring first-round NBA pick Patrick Patterson.

Georgia’s most recent win against the Wildcats came two seasons ago, when a Tom Crean -coached UGA team topped Calipari’s Cats, 63-62, in Stegeman Coliseum.

WATCH: Georgia snaps 14-game losing streak to Kentucky on last-second bucket

The Bulldogs return to action against Vanderbilt at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Stegeman Coliseum, where they have a 10-game home court win streak.

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