Wildcats unable to repeat win over Georgia in Athens


Isabel McSwain

Kentucky Wildcats guard Cason Wallace (22) attempts a shot during the Kentucky vs. Georgia mens basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023, at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Georgia. UK lost 68-75. Photo by Isabel McSwain | Staff

Samantha Money, Asst. Sports Editor

Kentucky mens basketball fell to the Georgia Bulldogs 75-68 on Saturday in Athens as the Bulldogs did not allow history to repeat itself from earlier this season.

Just under a month ago, the pair faced off in Wildcat territory when Kentucky defeated Georgia 85-71 and the Bulldogs fell victim to Oscar Tshiebwe.

Tshiebwe surprised Georgia during that first matchup, putting up a career high of 37 points accompanied by his 24 rebounds. The game made history in more ways than one with Tshiebwe also becoming the first Wildcat to record at least 35 points and 20 rebounds since February 1976.

Although Tshiebwe stole the spotlight, Georgia put up a strong performance in Lexington, shooting 46.2% from the field along with the Dawgs’ leading scorer Terry Roberts racking up 21 points and 5 rebounds.

With that being said, the Bulldogs evidently went into Saturday’s matchup with the goal of yielding a much different result than the previous time.

Kentucky Wildcats guard Antonio Reeves (12) attempts a 3-pointer during the Kentucky vs. Georgia mens basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023, at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Georgia. UK lost 68-75. Photo by Isabel McSwain | Staff (Isabel McSwain)

The game started off fairly similar with Georgia keeping the lead for the majority of the first half, but this time in Athens, the Bulldogs continued to keep their momentum going enough in the second half to shut down Kentucky’s offense.

“Everybody has to stay connected out there,” Kentucky guard Antonio Reeves said. “It’s more so everybody communicating on the defensive end more than anything.”

The Wildcats had one of their lower averaging field goal games, going 38.5% from the field and also racking up 23 personal fouls from which Georgia capitalized 25 baskets off.

Instead of Roberts leading the Bulldogs in scoring this matchup, it was Kario Oquendo who put up 21 points and was complemented by Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe who led with nine rebounds.

For the Cats, Tshiebwe may not have put up 37 points like he did when the pair last met on the court, but his 20 points on Saturday was coincidentally the most points he’s put up since that first Georgia matchup.

Reeves matched Tshiebwe’s 20 points while shooting 50% (4-8) from beyond the arc and Jacob Toppin added contributions of 12 points and eight rebounds.

Yet, the offensive drive that Georgia took in the second half proved something that Kentucky would not be able to recover from.

With the loss, the Wildcats move to 16-9 on the season and 7-5 in league play while talks begin to circulate about where Kentucky stands in the NCAA tournament.

“I think we need to keep fighting,” Tshiebwe said. “We have a good team. For the rest of the games, we need to just keep coming together and keep working. I believe in us that we got this.”

The Wildcats will continue their road matchups as they travel to Mississippi State on Wednesday, Feb. 15 in hopes of taking an SEC victory. The teams will tip off inside Humphrey Coliseum at 8:30 p.m. EST and can be watched live on the SEC Network.