Wildcats Win Second Straight, Sweep Season Series With Georgia

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- Ramel Bradley rose up for the rebound and grabbed it with both hands, only to be greeted by an inadvertent elbow from Georgia's Billy Humphrey.

The Kentucky guard lay sprawled on the Rupp Arena floor for a few anxious moments, and for a second it appeared the Bulldogs may have knocked Bradley out of a game for the second time in a month.

Although a little woozy, Bradley quickly bounced back to his feet, just like his team.

Kentucky held off the Bulldogs 61-55 on Tuesday to win for the seventh time in eight games and keep a firm grip on second place in the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division.

"We were mentally tough tonight," said Bradley, who had eight points and 12 rebounds. "They did a good job of getting back into the game. We didn't do the things we need to do to put them away. They put themselves in position to win, (but) we had to get stops and we did."

Joe Crawford led the Wildcats (14-10, 8-3 SEC) with 23 points and Patrick Patterson added 20 points and nine rebounds as Kentucky remained unbeaten at Rupp Arena in SEC play this season.

"We made a few mistakes, but we gutted it out," Crawford said. "Our offense wasn't what it needed to be, but we got the win."

Terrance Woodbury led Georgia (12-12, 3-8) with 15 points and Sundiata Gaines had 10 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, but the Bulldogs shot just 32 percent from the floor and made just one field goal over the game's final six minutes.

"Down the stretch, defense is what is going to win games for you," Bradley said. "We got stops."

The Wildcats blocked eight shots, held a 40-38 edge on the boards against one of the SEC's better rebounding teams and outscored Georgia 34-22 in the paint.

"It was a man's game on the boards, and Patrick was the best," Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie said.

Kentucky led by as many as 16, but the Bulldogs managed to hang around and got within three at 55-52 on a 3-pointer by Gaines with 6:22 to play. But Georgia couldn't quite make it all the way back. Six straight possessions the Bulldogs had the ball with a chance to cut the lead to one or tie.

It never happened. Bradley ended a four-minute drought for the Wildcats with a putback off a Patterson miss to push the lead to 57-52, and Kentucky's aggressive defense kept the Bulldogs from getting any closer.

"We've had many close games where we got open shots, and we just haven't been able to put them down," Georgia coach Dennis Felton said. "It makes it hard on us when you can't do that."

Georgia center Dave Bliss, who knocked Bradley out of the game with a hard foul during Kentucky's win at Georgia on Feb. 2, was booed lustily by the crowd each time he touched the ball. Bradley said before the game that he was over the incident, claiming it was just something that happens during the course of a game.

Bradley exacted his revenge by gamely throwing his 6-foot-2 frame into the lane. His 12 rebounds tied a career high, and he deftly guided Kentucky's transition offense, helping the Wildcats to an 8-0 advantage in fastbreak points.

Kentucky's second half didn't seem like it would be necessary during a dizzying opening eight minutes.

Crawford wasted little time heating up, knocking down three 3-pointers in the game's first three minutes as Kentucky roared to a 20-4 lead and seemed ready to do to the Bulldogs what Vanderbilt did to the Wildcats in a 41-point rout last week.

Crawford, however, cooled off while Georgia steadied itself behind a steady dose of Woodbury. The Bulldogs eventually cut the gap to 33-30 before two free throws by Patterson and a layup by Bradley pushed the Wildcats to a 37-30 lead at the break.

"We needed to do a better job of putting it on them," Bradley said. "You have to give a lot of credit to Georgia, they didn't quit."

Kentucky played without guard Jodie Meeks, who continues to struggle with a strained hip flexor.

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


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