UK drops SEC opener to Georgia, 77-70



ATHENS, Ga. – Chants of “overrated,” directed at No. 10 UK, rang through Stegeman Coliseum.

It was not a pretty start to conference play for UK, who lost to Georgia, 77-70, a score UK head coach John Calipari said was “not indicative of how bad they beat us.”

After falling behind by 11 points at halftime, UK mounted a comeback. The Cats tied the game in the second half five times, and even took a one-point lead with nine minutes to play on a Terrence Jones three-point play. UK was getting points in transition offense, most fueled by Doron Lamb, who finished with 18 points.

“When we tied the game up, that’s when we find out who’s who,” Calipari said. “That’s when you find out. And we had some guys who just laid an egg.”

But Georgia’s Dustin Ware buried a three-pointer that reclaimed a lead and started a 12-3 run that padded the margin. The Bulldogs led comfortably the rest of the game, all the way through chants of “overrated” and a futile Jones three-pointer at the end of the game.

The loss was the first conference-opening loss for UK since 2006. The combination of physical play, tight games and loud – perhaps not hostile, as UK had a sizeable presence in the stands, but definitely loud – was a new experience for almost everyone on the team. Suddenly the team was faced with a proposition: making plays when it mattered.

“DeAndre (Liggins) and Darius (Miller) never got in if the game was in the balance,” Calipari said of their role last season. “They were on that bench. And now they’re on the floor. You have to make plays.”

They decidedly did not make plays, at least not enough to pull UK through. Liggins shot 2-for-9, had one rebound, zero assists and two turnovers. Miller shot 2-for-11, although he had plenty of chances under the basket that he didn’t finish. Miller often took fade-aways from close range rather than going up strong.

“Darius, are you going to go 2-for-11 from one feet, and fade miss them all, in a big game?” Calipari said.

Calipari also mentioned Terrence Jones’ slow start, which has become a troubling habit – enough of one that Calipari mentioned he might have to consider bringing him off the bench. Jones ended up scoring 24 points, but his slow start and foul trouble proved detrimental to the team.

“As much of an impact as I bring to the team, there’s no way I can start like that,” Jones said.

SEC play was expected to be more physical. It was. Georgia went 30-for-34 from the free throw line. UK was 10-for-16.

“We were expecting, you drive, they hip check you, it’s a foul,” Calipari said. “They weren’t going to call it. They didn’t call it the whole game. So you have to play through it and figure it out.”

One stretch in particular was a turning point. With UK holding onto that one-point lead – the only lead they would have – Doron Lamb absorbed contact in the lane as he put up a shot. He missed, and in the scrum for the loose ball, Terrence Jones was whistled for his fourth foul.

“I got fouled on that play,” Lamb said. “But we don’t get calls on the road, and coach told us that already. I didn’t say anything to the ref.”

Calipari noted UK is usually the team making more free throws than their opponents take. But he didn’t say it was bad officiating.

“If I think they made a bad call, I’ll send it to the league office,” Calipari said. “But I haven’t watched tape yet. A lot of times you watch tape and it’s not that bad.”


John Calipari on Georgia loss, part 1:

Calipari, part 2:

Doron Lamb:

Brandon Knight:

Terrence Jones: