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No. 16 Kentucky rallies past Georgia 66-61 in SEC opener

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) A night in which No. 16 Kentucky seemingly couldn't make any shots didn't stop the Wildcats from trying, especially with the lead within reach against Georgia.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander changed everything with one timely 3-pointer that freed things up for everything to fall when they needed them.

The freshman guard had another big game off the bench with five of his 21 points coming down the stretch, and Kentucky added several clutch late baskets to rally past Georgia 66-61on Sunday night in its Southeastern Conference opener.

The Wildcats (11-2, 1-0) shot a season-low 17 of 54 from the field (32 percent) but made needed baskets to overcome an eight-point deficit early in the second half. Gilgeous-Alexander's go-ahead 3 with 4:39 remaining set the tone for big shots that Kevin Knox, Hamidou Diallo and then Gilgeous-Alexander followed with layups before Wenyen Gabriel's 3 with 1:08 left provided a six-point cushion

Kentucky ended up making its final five attempts after missing its first six, a big improvement in a contest it had to play catch-up all night.

''That's one of our strengths, getting downhill and getting into the lane to put pressure on teams,'' said Gilgeous-Alexander, whose lone 3 offset 4-of-9 shooting. ''So, shooting bad doesn't really affect us,'' It kind of makes us better.''

Gilgeous-Alexander and Quade Green (15 points) combined for three late free throws to seal the tight win that followed Friday's 29-point shellacking of archrival Louisville. Diallo finished with 10 points and a team-high nine rebounds as Kentucky won the boards 42-38.

Kentucky coach John Calipari still called the first half one of the most selfish efforts displayed by his young team. Besides shooting 21 percent, freshmen forwards Nick Richards and PJ Washington each picked up two quick fouls and spent the rest of the half watching from the bench.

The Wildcats steadily fought back but couldn't get over the hump until Gilgeous-Alexander's big shot ended up opening the inside.

''It's a game of runs, and we went on a good run,'' Diallo said. ''Even after we went on our run, we defended, we had energy and were the aggressors after that.''

Yante Maten had 17 points, Derek Ogbeide 13 and Rayshaun Hammonds 12 for the Bulldogs (9-3, 0-1), who entered having won five of six this month. They seemed to be able to answer several Kentucky charges in the second half before fading to finish 40 percent from the field.

''They made the plays they needed to make to win the game,'' Georgia coach Mark Fox said. ''We had one little stretch where we didn't take care of it in the second half and lost our lead.''

BIG PICTURE

Georgia: Despite missing their first 11 3-point shots and finishing just 2 of 21 from behind the arc, consecutive makes by Maten and William Jackson II coming out of the break proved critical. Besides providing a 33-26 lead, the shots set an assertive yet patient tone that paid off on both ends for a while. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, those timely shots, rebounds and steals were mostly missing in the final five minutes.

Kentucky: After playing arguably their best game this season against Louisville, the Wildcats struggled from the field throughout before succeeding late. Gilgeous-Alexander followed up his career-best 24-point effort against Louisville with another 20-point game, hitting 12 of 13 free throws. The `Cats made 27 of 38 from the line overall.

FIERY FOX

Livid after Maten was called for fouling Gilgeous-Alexander, Fox drew a technical foul for the protest. ''There were back-to-back plays that I thought were similar and had different outcomes,'' the coach said, ''so that is what I was disappointed in.'' Gilgeous-Alexander made both technical free throws and two more for the foul, allowing Kentucky to trail just 27-26 at the break.

UP NEXT

Georgia: Hosts Mississippi on Wednesday night.

Kentucky: At LSU on Wednesday night.

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Key Players
Y. Maten
K. Knox
33.3 Min. Per Game 33.3
15.1 Pts. Per Game 15.1
2.0 Ast. Per Game 2.0
5.8 Reb. Per Game 5.8
50.0 Field Goal % 43.0
38.7 Three Point % 31.7
84.5 Free Throw % 70.9
  Defensive rebound by Yante Maten 2.0
  Hamidou Diallo missed 2nd of 2 free throws 2.0
  Hamidou Diallo missed 1st of 2 free throws 2.0
  Personal foul on Tyree Crump 2.0
  Defensive rebound by Hamidou Diallo 4.0
  Tyree Crump missed 3-pt. jump shot, blocked by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 6.0
+ 1 Quade Green made 2nd of 2 free throws 11.0
+ 1 Quade Green made 1st of 2 free throws 11.0
  Personal foul on Juwan Parker 11.0
+ 1 Tyree Crump made 2nd of 2 free throws 13.0
+ 1 Tyree Crump made 1st of 2 free throws 13.0
Team Stats
Points 61 66
Field Goals 23-58 (39.7%) 17-54 (31.5%)
3-Pointers 2-21 (9.5%) 5-16 (31.3%)
Free Throws 13-21 (61.9%) 27-38 (71.1%)
Total Rebounds 38 42
Offensive 13 14
Defensive 23 24
Team 2 4
Assists 10 10
Steals 2 8
Blocks 3 6
Turnovers 13 9
Fouls 27 23
Technicals 1 0
17 PTS, 12 REB, 2 AST
21 PTS, 5 REB, 4 AST
12T
away team logo Georgia 9-3 273461
home team logo 16 Kentucky 11-2 264066
Team Stats
away team logo Georgia 9-3 71.1 PPG 41.4 RPG 13.2 APG
home team logo 16 Kentucky 11-2 75.8 PPG 40.9 RPG 13.5 APG
Key Players
00
Y. Maten F PPG RPG APG FG%
00
S. Gilgeous-Alexander G PPG RPG APG FG%
Top Scorers
Y. Maten F 17 PTS 12 REB 2 AST
S. Gilgeous-Alexander G 21 PTS 5 REB 4 AST
39.7 FG% 31.5
9.5 3PT FG% 31.3
61.9 FT% 71.1
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
Y. Maten 17 12 2 5/15 1/4 6/8 3 36 0 1 1 5 7
D. Ogbeide 13 6 0 6/7 0/0 1/3 4 28 0 0 4 3 3
R. Hammonds 12 5 1 5/7 0/1 2/5 3 31 0 0 1 3 2
W. Jackson II 5 2 1 2/6 1/5 0/0 5 23 0 1 0 1 1
E. Wilridge 0 0 1 0/1 0/1 0/0 0 11 0 0 1 0 0
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
Y. Maten 17 12 2 5/15 1/4 6/8 3 36 0 1 1 5 7
D. Ogbeide 13 6 0 6/7 0/0 1/3 4 28 0 0 4 3 3
R. Hammonds 12 5 1 5/7 0/1 2/5 3 31 0 0 1 3 2
W. Jackson II 5 2 1 2/6 1/5 0/0 5 23 0 1 0 1 1
E. Wilridge 0 0 1 0/1 0/1 0/0 0 11 0 0 1 0 0
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
J. Parker 5 2 0 2/4 0/0 1/1 2 17 1 1 1 0 2
T. Crump 4 2 3 1/9 0/6 2/2 3 12 0 0 2 0 2
J. Harris 2 3 2 1/4 0/2 0/0 3 21 0 0 2 0 3
N. Claxton 2 1 0 1/2 0/0 0/0 1 6 0 0 0 1 0
M. Edwards 1 3 0 0/1 0/0 1/2 0 10 0 0 0 0 3
T. Hightower 0 0 0 0/2 0/2 0/0 2 5 1 0 1 0 0
C. Harrison - - - - - - - - - - - - -
C. O'Neill - - - - - - - - - - - - -
P. Diatta - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I. Kante - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 61 36 10 23/58 2/21 13/21 27 200 2 3 13 13 23
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
Q. Green 15 4 1 4/10 1/4 6/8 2 25 0 0 2 1 3
H. Diallo 10 10 0 3/8 0/1 4/8 3 34 1 0 0 3 7
K. Knox 7 4 3 2/10 1/4 2/3 3 28 1 0 1 1 3
P. Washington 7 2 1 2/5 0/1 3/6 5 15 1 2 0 1 1
N. Richards 0 0 0 0/1 0/0 0/0 2 3 0 0 1 0 0
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
Q. Green 15 4 1 4/10 1/4 6/8 2 25 0 0 2 1 3
H. Diallo 10 10 0 3/8 0/1 4/8 3 34 1 0 0 3 7
K. Knox 7 4 3 2/10 1/4 2/3 3 28 1 0 1 1 3
P. Washington 7 2 1 2/5 0/1 3/6 5 15 1 2 0 1 1
N. Richards 0 0 0 0/1 0/0 0/0 2 3 0 0 1 0 0
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
S. Gilgeous-Alexander 21 5 4 4/9 1/1 12/13 0 33 3 2 1 3 2
W. Gabriel 6 10 0 2/9 2/5 0/0 4 34 1 1 3 3 7
T. Wynyard 0 1 0 0/1 0/0 0/0 1 7 1 0 0 1 0
S. Killeya-Jones 0 2 1 0/1 0/0 0/0 3 21 0 1 1 1 1
J. David - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Pulliam - - - - - - - - - - - - -
B. Calipari - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Baker - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Vanderbilt - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 66 38 10 17/54 5/16 27/38 23 200 8 6 9 14 24