ATHENS — A sellout crowd and strong start wasn’t enough for the Georgia basketball program to snap a losing streak to Kentucky that has now reached 12 games.
The Bulldogs (9-7, 1-3) dropped a 69-49 decision to the No. 12-ranked Wildcats (13-3, 3-1 SEC) in an ESPN-televised affair on Tuesday night at Stegeman Coliseum.
Nicolas Claxton left his best on the floor, leading the team with 12 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.
Georgia was an atrocious 4-of-27 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc, missing on several open shots as Kentucky ran away with the game.
Many of the sellout crowd left at the 9:01 mark after Kentucky went on an 8-0 run accentuated by two dunks, building a 16-point lead.
Things grew worse, as the Bulldogs missed their final nine shots in the game, many of the fans marching out the aisles as UK dribbled out the clock.
Kentucky hasn’t lost to Georgia in basketball since a March 7 defeat in 2013 in Athens (72-62).
The Wildcats opened the second half on a 9-0 run, the first seven points scored by Kentucky point guard and one-time Georgia commit Ashton Hagans.
Hagans scored a career-high 23 points for the Wildcats, and it marked the second straight game the opposing team’s leading scorer was a Georgia high school product.
Rayshaun Hammonds, who entered the night as the Bulldogs’ leading scorer, didn’t get his first points until the 14:54 mark, hitting two of three free throws to cut the lead to 44-33.
It was an uninspiring performance from Hammonds, who finished with 11 points on 3-of-8 shooting and 4 rebounds.
Kentucky held a 35-31 lead at the half, shooting 46.7 percent from the floor while the Bulldogs were struggling from the perimeter, just 2-of-13 beyond the 3-point arc through the first 20 minutes.
Georgia opened the game in impressive fashion with five dunks and a free throw, leading 11-6 at the 14:12 mark on a Claxton dunk.
The proved to be the highlight of the night.
The Wildcats answered with a 12-3 run that took less than 3 minutes, off and running in transition as the Bulldogs missed four of five shots .
Georgia came back to tie the game at 27-27 on a Claxton drive at the 4:55 mark that capped a 10-4 run.
The Bulldogs missed seven of their final eight shots in the first half, yielding the lead to Kentucky at intermission
Georgia returns to action with a noon home game against Florida (TV: CBS) before another sellout crowd at Stegeman Coliseum.
The Bulldogs next five home games are sold out, with the Feb. 20 home game with Mississippi State the first one remaining with tickets available through the box office.