In a game featuring five all-league players, Isaiah Briscoe led United Kingdom to a 71-60 victory over Georgia in the Southeastern Conference Tournament. Georgia, which edged Tennessee 57-55 in the second round, awaits its postseason fate and hopes its 19-14 record is enough to land one of 68 coveted spots in the NCAA Tournament.
If Georgia can somehow sneak an upset, not only will it give them a strong win on the resume come Selection Sunday in a few days, but it will also mark the fourth straight appearance in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament. After sitting for three weeks with a sprained knee, Maten was forced to play games in back-to-back days.
The tournament will be played at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. Freshman center Bam Adebayo added 13 points and 10 rebounds, while senior forward Derek Willis chipped in with seven points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots.
Kentucky guard Malik Monk admitted it's hard to "beat a team three times" in one season, but said the Wildcats were more energetic from the opening tip, leading to the double-digit victory over the Bulldogs.
"Coach [Mark Fox] challenged me ... he saw me get a tough rebound on film and he said he'd like to see that more often".
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Georgia was held to 33.3 shooting and was six points away from its season low point-total.
Coach Calipari always talks about energy and Kentucky came out from the start with a lot of it. "That was the emphasis all week in practice. I think we executed coming out today".
Early against Georgia, Willis was right in the thick of things for United Kingdom as they jumped out to a lead in the opening minutes instead of falling behind double-digits. The absence of the two guards provided a small window of opportunity for the Bulldogs, one that closed quickly in the second half. Kentucky scored 18 points off 13 Georgia turnovers, getting several critical baskets off mistakes at the beginning of both halves.
Georgia star J.J. Frazier's only made 3-pointer on Friday didn't count. "And the other guy was Mike Mulder making some shots because we had a bunch of guys that couldn't make a shot", Calipari said. If you think you can score 60 points in post-season game and win. Because you have a vision that we won by eight. His shooting percentage of 23.5 percent was his third worst of the season, and it came at the worst possible time. Monk couldn't recall the last time he scored two points or less but liked the final result. Frazier took over from there with a big layup and two free throws for a three-point that held up despite two chances for the Volunteers to rally. "It's all right though".
It didn't help matters that both Maten and J.J. Frazier were off their respective games, thanks largely to a concerted effort by the Wildcats to make the afternoon as hard as possible for Georgia's best scoring options. Frazier tallied a career-high 36 points in the last meeting between the two teams.