Hoops’ roster suffers another hit, but UK knocks out Georgia on the road

ATHENS, Ga. — First it was Jodie Meeks. Then Ramel Bradley. And finally, Joe Crawford.

The list of scorers who weren’t available for head coach Billy Gillispie during Saturday’s game against Georgia (11-8, 2-4 Southeastern Conference) kept growing, but the Cats (10-9, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) still pulled out their first road win of the season, beating Georgia 63-58 at Stegeman Coliseum.

“It was a really good win for us,” Gillispie said. “The way it happened, with all those guys out, I thought our guys showed tremendous courage.”

It ended as an ugly win, and the UK injury report may turn out even uglier.

Meeks, who has missed all but nine games due to injury, limped through the pre-game workouts and didn’t play.

Bradley, who entered the game averaging more than 40 minutes per game, played just 11 minutes, suffering a concussion and a busted chin in the first half. Bradley was leading a fast break when he was knocked to the floor. The senior guard watched the rest of the game from the locker room.

And Crawford, who didn’t play against South Carolina because of a foot injury, suffered through severe cramps in both legs throughout the second half and didn’t play the final four minutes of the game.

“I’d like to see … what we could turn into (if we were healthy) because they’re fighting through it and they don’t let anything bother them,” Gillispie said. “I would really like to see that happen, but if it doesn’t happen, we’ll continue trying to make do.”

Even without three of their four leading scorers for much of the game, the Cats were able to pull out their first road win of the season and their first SEC road victory since Feb. 3, 2007, snapping UGA’s 11-game home winning streak.

Crawford led all scorers with 26 points and hit a career-high five 3-pointers in a gym the senior has apparently taken a liking to. Last season, Crawford scored 29 points in UK’s overtime loss in Athens, Ga.

After Crawford’s fifth 3-pointer, which gave UK a 56-54 lead, the senior told Gillispie he couldn’t go on. Trainers fervently massaged both of his calves as Crawford chugged Gatorade and yelled in pain, and when Gillispie turned to ask if he could play, Crawford shook his head.

“He was great today,” Gillispie said. “He was fantastic. All of the shots he made were so timely. I would like to see him get back healthy. It was absolutely the best I’ve seen him play.”

Without Bradley and Crawford, the Cats leaned heavily on freshman forward Patrick Patterson, who finished with 16 points, and an unlikely hero in sophomore forward Ramon Harris.

Harris scored a career-high nine points, including a backdoor layup that pushed the UK lead to 58-54 with 2:38 to play.

“Best game that I’ve ever seen him play, no question,” Gillispie said. “He was good offensively, and he was better defensively than he has been.”

Patterson sealed the game with a dunk off a lob from sophomore guard Derrick Jasper with 57 seconds left in the game, the fourth such dunk of the game for Patterson.

Patterson walked off the court as one of the few healthy players in blue, and after the game, he said the victory was another “confidence boost” for the Cats, especially since UK won without three key players.

“We want to win with everybody, but we can win with nobody,” Patterson said. “We don’t rely on one player. We have role players on the team that can step up anytime. They played our hearts out there.”