BOZICH | Nine decisive takeaways from Kentucky's 72-64 comeback - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Nine decisive takeaways from Kentucky's 72-64 comeback win at Georgia

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ATHENS, Ga. (WDRB) – Some say the magic number for this University of Kentucky basketball team is 10. Ten victories from a perfect 40-0 season.

The number nine works, too, especially after the Wildcats' stirring, 72-64, comeback victory against Georgia at Stegeman Coliseum Tuesday night.

John Calipari's trailed by nine with nine minutes to play. At that point, nobody was talking about the Wildcats' pursuit of the program's ninth national title. The talk, from UK coach John Calipari, was about which players were ready to deliver at winning time.

"I hope we go down 10," Calipari said. "Scared money don't make no money."

Pay the man.

"He (Calipari) was real proud of us, that we fought the way we did and we needed a game like this," Towns said. "We definitely did."

"In recent games we've been playing so well we needed to know how it felt to not be at the top of our game and be able to play through it. We did tonight."

Here are nine reasons Kentucky delivered on a night when it appeared the Wildcats were shaken and stirred:

1. Kentucky does not give up three-point field goals. The Wildcats simply don't.

The numbers say that Georgia is the fourth best three-point shooting team in the Southeastern Conference, making nearly 35 percent of their shots from distance – nearly six per game.

Not against Kentucky.

The Bulldogs went 3 for 17.

Sound familiar? It should. Arkansas came to Rupp Arena last Saturday as the SEC's second best three-point shooting team. The Razorbacks missed 13 of 18.

In the last three games, opponents are 10 for 46 from distance against UK. That's 21.7 percent.

Mark it down as the 12th time this season Kentucky's opponent has failed to make more than three three-pointers.

That will make a difference in March.

2. John Calipari has tightened his playing rotation. Only seven guys played more than a dozen minutes. That's usually been Calipari's way.

No talk of platoons. Plenty of talk about which players were going to handle the task of beating Florida – Karl-Anthony Towns and the Harrison twins did the work, scoring 14 of Kentucky's final 18 points.

3. The Wildcats protected the basketball as if it was one of Calipari's finest suits. They only threw it away three times, a season best. Georgia averages six steals per game. The Bulldogs had none.

4. Kentucky's success is not tied to making three-point shots. The Wildcats made only four. Kentucky has won 11 games without making more than four three-pointers this season.

5. The whistle is supposed to work against you when you play on the road. Kentucky combats that. How? By taking the ball to the basket. The Wildcats were plus-nine at the foul line against Georgia, making 18 free throws while the home team only made nine.

6. Kentucky made Georgia's Go-To Guys disappear. The box score says that Marcus Thornton and Nemanja Djurisic were Georgia's Go-To Guys Tuesday night. Thornton scored 14, Djurisic had 18.

Take a deeper look at the box score. Thornton and Djurisic disappeared at winning time.

Thornton's last basket came with 10 ½ minutes to play. Djurisic had a layup that pushed the Bulldogs' ahead 60-56 with 6:02 to play. He did not make another field goal.

7. Andrew Harrison is playing his best basketball. He steadied the Wildcats against Georgia, playing 31 solid minutes, scoring a dozen points, making a pair of three-point shots and turning the ball over once.

But it's more than one good game for Harrison. Over his last seven games, Harrison has averaged 11.9 points, more than three points better than his season average.

He's made 10 of 24 three-point shots. He has 28 assists and only eight turnovers.

8. Gang rebounding is the way Kentucky worked the glass. Nine guys had at least two rebounds for the first time since the UCLA game Dec. 20.

9. Kentucky plays Florida next, Saturday at Rupp Arena. Ken Pomeroy puts the Wildcats' win probability at 95 percent, projecting UK winning, 67-52.

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