Wildcats Hope to Continue Rupp Resurgence Against Bulldogs

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- The concussion Kentucky guard Ramel Bradley suffered the last time the Wildcats played Georgia left him dazed, but not confused.

Bradley called the hard foul from Georgia's Dave Bliss that sent him sprawling to the floor and ultimately to the locker room in the first half of Kentucky's 63-58 win on Feb. 2 "no big deal." While there's certainly no love lost between the Wildcats and the Bulldogs, don't expect Bradley to go looking for a little payback.

Bradley knows there's more important things than settling a score, namely trying to keep the Wildcats (13-10, 7-3 Southeastern Conference) on No. 2 Tennessee's heels. As poorly Kentucky has played at times this season, the Wildcats remain within striking distance of the Volunteers.

"We remember what happened last November, and we all agreed that is what we were not going to let happen again," forward Perry Stevenson said.

At least not at Rupp Arena. The Wildcats are undefeated on their home floor in conference play, restoring some of the luster to Rupp after nonconference home losses to Gardner-Webb, San Diego and Louisville.

To keep it going, they'll need to continue to dictate tempo. Injuries and inexperienced players have forced coach Billy Gillispie to slow the game down to keep the Wildcats competitive.

"I think everybody has a game plan that they want to execute when they go into each particular game, and we definitely need to limit possession most of the time," Gillispie said.

Though they have struggled to score points, the Wildcats have become one of the better defensive teams in the conference. Kentucky is second in the SEC in field goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to shoot just 40 percent from the floor. The Wildcats are fifth in points allowed (66.8 per game) and first in defensive rebounding, not bad for an undersized team.

"We have come a long way from where we started," Stevenson said. The Wildcats had some difficult practices in the preseason but are becoming closer as a team. "Now we are much tougher than when we started."

They'll need to be tough Tuesday to find a way to stop the Bulldogs (12-11, 3-7), who have lost six of seven but played well in a 74-71 loss to Tennessee on Saturday. Guard Sundiata Gaines had 23 points and nine rebounds against the Volunteers and will be a handful for whomever the Wildcats send at him, which could be anyone.

Gillispie said he could send Bradley, Joe Crawford, Derrick Jasper, Ramon Harris and maybe even Jodie Meeks out to stop Gaines, who had 15 points and seven rebounds in Georgia's first meeting with the Wildcats.

"No one has been able to figure him out lately," Gillispie said of Gaines. "He makes hard shots, and he has made three or four shots when there was no time left on the clock that no one would ever think he could make these shots. He's just a hard guy to deal with."

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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