LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP)—A little rest was all Georgia needed to record another upset.
Rashad Wright scored 20 points to lift the Bulldogs past No. 5 Kentucky 65-57 on Saturday, ending the Wildcats’ 19-game Southeastern Conference regular-season winning streak.
Georgia (9-5, 1-2 SEC) beat a top-five opponent for the second time this month. The Bulldogs downed then-No. 3 Georgia Tech 83-80 in double overtime on Jan. 3.
“This was one of those moments we should embrace,” Georgia basketball coach Dennis Felton said.
In between the win over Georgia Tech and the win over Kentucky, Georgia lost its first two SEC games, to Tennessee and South Carolina, by more than 20 points each. With a week between the South Carolina and Kentucky games, Felton gave his players three days off, citing “overall fatigue.”
The Bulldogs looked anything but tired against the Wildcats (11-2, 2-1), outrebounding them 36-23 and going 6-of-12 from the 3-point line.
Jonas Hayes said the week off gave the Bulldogs time to rest and reflect on what happened.
“It gave us a chance to look really hard within ourselves and find the will and determination to get things done,” Hayes said.
The Bulldogs trailed only once, for 70 seconds midway through the second half. Kentucky came no closer than five points during the final six minutes, and Wright scored on a dunk with 0.2 seconds left to cap the upset.
“We had lost two games by 40-plus points, and I felt Kentucky was better than both the teams we lost to,” said Georgia’s Damien Wilkins, who finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds. “But our first two games, our effort was in question. As a player, you never want to have effort as a question.”
Kentucky’s winning streak was the seventh-longest in league history. The Wildcats’ last regular-season SEC loss was to Vanderbilt on Feb. 27, 2002. The loss denied Kentucky coach Tubby Smith what would have been his 300th career win.
Erik Daniels scored 15 points to lead Kentucky, but the 6-foot-8 center had one rebound, six below his average. Chuck Hayes scored 13 points and Gerald Fitch added 10 points for Kentucky. Fitch entered the game averaging 18.1 points, but went just 2-of-9 from the field.
During a game that included 50 fouls—25 on each team—Georgia made 27 of 35 free throws (77.1 percent), helping offset a 16-for-41 (39 percent) shooting effort.
Kentucky finished 19-of-52 from the field (36.5 percent) and went just 4-of-19 from 3-point range. Kentucky went 15-of-22 from the free-throw line.
“This is probably the first time a team has been tougher than us,” Daniels said.
Kentucky took its only lead at 34-33 with 12:43 left on Daniels’ free throw. Levi Stukes, who scored 11 points, hit two free throws with 11:33 left to give Georgia the lead for good, 35-34.
Georgia led 39-38 when Wright hit one of his four 3-pointers. Marcus Sikes followed with a tip-in to give the Bulldogs a 44-38 lead.
In the first half, Georgia led by as many as 11 points—Kentucky’s largest deficit of the season.
Kentucky closed the gap to 28-25 at halftime. During the first seven minutes of the second half, Kentucky missed eight shots that would have either tied the game or given the Wildcats the lead.
“The ball was rolling in and out and that’s a sign of a team that’s not mentally focused,” Smith said. “We’ve got to recover. … You’ve got to go back to the drawing table.”