Latest escape has Kentucky one win from perfect regular season

Latest escape has Kentucky one win from perfect regular season

They stormed back from six down late in the second half at LSU. They survived overtime against Ole Miss and Texas A&M. They thwarted Florida's spirited upset bid.

In a year in which Kentucky has needed to engineer some artful escapes against SEC opponents to preserve its undefeated record, the Wildcats saved one of their best for last.

Kentucky moved within one win of an unbeaten regular season with a 72-64 road victory over a Georgia team that had the Wildcats teetering several times in the second half. The Bulldogs shredded Kentucky's typically formidable defense most of the night by spreading the floor and attacking the rim, enabling them to open leads of nine with nine minutes to play and six with five minutes to play.

Just like it has in previous tests, Kentucky gathered itself and responded, this time seizing back control with a game-ending 16-2 surge. Freshman center Karl-Anthony Towns scored a game-high 19 points for the Wildcats including the go-ahead basket with 2:53 to go when he recovered his own miss, absorbed contact and laid the ball in.

That Kentucky managed to win on the road despite shooting below 40 percent from the field and struggling on defense is a testament to its resilience. At this point, the top-ranked Wildcats have proven it's foolish to count them out of a game unless they have fewer points than their opponent and the clock reads triple zeroes.

It was Towns who showed the greatest resilience Tuesday night, bouncing back after drawing coach John Calipari's ire late in the second half when he lowered his shoulder and committed a charge in the post instead of kicking the ball out to a wide-open Tyler Ulis. Towns responded by scoring seven points in the final three minutes to help Kentucky put the game away.

Georgia's three missed front ends of 1-and-1s in the last five minutes has to be the most frustrating part of the loss for coach Mark Fox. His offensive scheme was shrewd, his team played with effort and energy, his home crowd was loud and still it wasn't enough.

Had the Bulldogs managed to close out the game strong and spring the upset, they would have not only foiled Kentucky's bid for history but also secured their own place in the NCAA tournament. Instead they still probably need a win at Auburn on Saturday to feel good about their position entering the SEC tournament.

Kentucky meanwhile is one win away from a perfect 31-0 regular season. All that stands between the Wildcats and history is struggling Florida at Rupp Arena, and barring a surprise, Kentucky won't need an escape to win that one.

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Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!