Ivisic Shines as No. 8/10 Kentucky Holds Off Georgia
The buzz inside Rupp Arena could be felt before Saturday’s game against Georgia. The Big Blue Nation had plenty to be excited about.
UK was set to honor one if its most beloved teams, the 1984 Final Four squad that featured Sam Bowie, Kenny Walker, Melvin Turpin and Jim Master, among others, at halftime.
But the biggest news was that UK learned earlier in the day that Zvonimir Ivisic, the 7-2 freshman from Croatia, had been ruled eligible by the NCAA, meaning he could play in Saturday’s game.
Ivisic entered the game with 16 minutes to play in the first half. The Rupp Arena crowd gave him a standing ovation, then waited to see what UK’s newest addition could do.
The crowd was waiting for a reason to explode, and it was granted that wish just minutes later. With 13:20 left in the first half and Kentucky in the midst of an 11-0 run, Ivisic caught a pass in the lane and flipped a behind the back pass to Antonio Reeves on the left wing for a three-pointer, giving the Cats a 19-10 advantage and forcing a Georgia timeout.
— Kentucky Men’s Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) January 20, 2024
Kentucky would build a 28-point lead in the second half, then was forced to hang on late to beat Georgia 105-96.
Tre Mitchell led the Cats with 23 points and Reeves had 21. D.J. Wagner had 18 points and a season-high 10 assists.
Ivisic scored 11 points in his first five minutes of action, adding three rebounds, two assists, two blocked shots and a steal during that same span of time. He finished with 13 points, five rebounds, three blocked shots and two steals.
UK head coach John Calipari knows that Ivisic can get even better, but he liked his debut on Saturday.
“He’s got a ways to go,” Calipari said. “But I told them – you know why he was wide open? Because they didn’t think he could shoot threes. They had never seen him play. It was a good start for him.”
Kentucky returns to action on Tuesday night, facing South Carolina in Columbia. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. and the game can be seen on the SEC Network.