Men's Basketball
Big Blue Preview: Kentucky vs. Georgia

Big Blue Preview: Kentucky vs. Georgia

by Tim Letcher

For the second time this week, Kentucky will host a Southeastern Conference opponent at Rupp Arena, as Georgia visits Lexington on Saturday.

No. 8/10 Kentucky beat Mississippi State 90-77 on Wednesday night behind 27 points from Antonio Reeves. Rob Dillingham came off the bench to score 16 points, while Tre Mitchell made all of his field goals (five, including a three-pointer) and all of his free throws (four) on his way to 15 points.

The Cats are now 13-3 overall and 3-1 in SEC play. The Cats are currently tied for third place in the early league standings, trailing the league’s only two 4-0 teams, Alabama and Auburn. UK is one of four teams with a 3-1 league mark.

Reeves leads the Cats in scoring, averaging 19.4 points per game. A total of five Wildcats average double figures in scoring, including Dillingham (14.5), Mitchell (13.0), D.J. Wagner (12.4) and Reed Sheppard (11.8).

Among the other teams sitting at 3-1 in SEC play is Georgia. The Bulldogs, under head coach Mike White, are 13-4 on the season. The Bulldogs have won 11 of their last 12 games, with the only loss coming against fifth-ranked Tennessee last Saturday in Athens.

Jabri Abdur-Rahim leads Georgia in scoring, averaging 12.8 points per game. The only other Bulldog to average double figures is Noah Thomasson, who posts 12.4 points per outing.

This game figures to be a contrast in styles. Kentucky leads the nation in scoring, averaging 90.8 points per game. Georgia has only scored 90 or more points in a game twice this season, against Mount St. Mary’s and Alabama A&M.

Georgia prefers to play a more defensive type of game. The Bulldogs allow opponents to score just 70 points per game. On 10 occasions this season, Georgia has held its opponent to less than 70 points.

Saturday’s game is set for a 6 p.m. ET tipoff and can be seen on the SEC Network.

Last Time Out: MSU Recap

When Antonio Reeves decided to come back to Kentucky this season, he was expected to be the go-to scorer on a team filled with young talent.

Reeves has certainly lived up to that expectation, scoring in double figures in 15 of Kentucky’s 16 games, including on Wednesday night when he posted a game-high 27 points as No. 8/10 Kentucky beat Mississippi State 90-77 inside Rupp Arena.

It was the eighth game this season in which Reeves has scored at least 20 points, the second in a row and the fourth such game in UK’s last six contests.

Kentucky (13-3, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) got 16 points from Rob Dillingham, who added four rebounds and four assists.

Tre Mitchell made all five of his field goal attempts, including his only three, and all four of his free throws on his way to 15 points. Aaron Bradshaw added 11 points and six rebounds for the Cats.

UK head coach John Calipari knows that it’s tough to win each and every night in the SEC.

“That was a good team that we beat today,” Calipari said. “Every game in this league is like a rock fight. Kids were ready today.”

Kentucky trailed 5-2 early before scoring 13 in a row to lead 15-5. Reed Sheppard came off the bench to spark the run, handing out three assists in one minute of action.

Mississippi State responded with back-to-back threes from Shawn Jones Jr., cutting the UK lead to 15-11. Kentucky answered by scoring 12 of the next 17 points, sparked by eight points from Dillingham, to lead 27-16.

MSU scored the next four before the Cats went on a 13-2 run, including nine in a row, to grow the lead to 40-22. The teams played even for the remainder of the half and the Cats took a 47-29 lead into the break. Reeves led all scorers with 16 points in the first 20 minutes.

Mississippi State opened the second half with an 14-2 run to cut the UK lead to 49-43 less than three minutes into the half. UK responded with a 9-1 run to re-establish a double-digit lead, 58-44.

Kentucky would hold that double-digit lead for the remainder of the game, leading by as many as 18 in the second half before settling for the 13-point win.

Kentucky Honoring 1984 Final Four Team

The University of Kentucky Athletics Department will celebrate the 1983-1984 men’s basketball team, which advanced to the NCAA Final Four and swept the Southeastern Conference regular season and tournament titles, this weekend with festivities surrounding Saturday’s game vs. Georgia inside Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center.

The ceremony will take place during halftime of the game on Saturday, which tips off at 6 p.m. ET and will be televised on SEC Network.

Head coach Joe B. Hall’s 1983-84 Wildcats went 29-5 overall (14-4 SEC), advanced to the Final Four, finished the season ranked No. 3 nationally, and won the Southeastern Conference regular season and SEC Tournament titles.

The season began on Nov. 26 with a 65-44 home win over No. 6-ranked Louisville, the first of 12 straight victories to begin the campaign. The Wildcats took a break from league play in January with a 74-67 home win over No. 4-ranked Houston. UK wrapped the regular season and clinched the league crown with a pair of home victories over Ole Miss and LSU.

The SEC Tournament, held at Vanderbilt, remains the most closely contested in league history as seven of the nine games were decided by six points or less. Fittingly, the championship game against Auburn went down to a final dramatic shot. Tied at 49, a jumper by Kenny “Sky” Walker hit the rim, bounced high, landed on the rim again, then crawled into the net as the buzzer sounded.

A No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, Kentucky received a first-round bye, then defeated Brigham Young in a second-round game in Birmingham. Rupp Arena was the host site of the Mideast Regional, where UK defeated Louisville and Illinois to advance to the Final Four. Played in Seattle, the Wildcats fell to Georgetown in the semifinal as the Hoyas went on to win the national championship.

Sam Bowie, who became the second selection in the 1984 NBA Draft, was an All-American and an All-SEC selection, averaging 10.5 points and a team-high 9.2 rebounds per game. He was also named to the All-NCAA Regional team.

Melvin Turpin was a consensus All-American, AII-NCAA Regional Team, AlI-SEC First Team and AIl-SEC Tournament honoree. He led the Wildcats in scoring with 15.2 points per game.

Walker earned All-SEC recognition during his sophomore season while averaging 12.4 points per game. Senior Jim Master tallied 9.6 points per game. Dicky Beal was the NCAA Regional Most Outstanding Player and paced the team in assists with 4.4 contest.

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