Kentucky Faces Georgia in SEC Tournament Semifinals
After pounding Alabama 85-59 in Friday's SEC Tournament quarterfinals, the Kentucky Wildcats turn their attention to a semifinal matchup against Georgia on Saturday.
|Kentucky vs. Georgia|
|Sat., March 12 - 3:30 p.m. ET
Game Notes: UK | UGA
Digital Gameday Program
|UK||2015-16 Team Stats||UGA|
Kentucky got 23 points from Jamal Murray on Friday, his 12th straight game with at least 20 points, and the Wildcats broke open a close game with a big second half.
Alex Poythress had his third big game against Alabama this season, posting 20 points and grabbing seven rebounds. SEC Player of the Year Tyler Ulis had 17 points and five assists for Kentucky in the game.
Kentucky (24-8) now faces a Georgia team that the Wildcats easily dispatched in the regular season. In the February 9 game, Kentucky's defense held Georgia to just 11 field goals in an 82-48 win at Rupp Arena. Murray led Kentucky with 24 points in that game and Ulis had 14 points and eight assists with no turnovers.
With the win on Friday, Kentucky is now 100 games over the .500 mark in SEC Tournament history. Kentucky has won 125 games in the event while losing only 25. Kentucky is 39-2 all-time in SEC Tournament semifinal games.
This season's Cats have now won three games in a row and eight of their last 10 overall. Kentucky has also won four straight games in the SEC Tournament after taking the title last season. The Wildcats' last loss in the event was in the 2014 championship game against Florida.
Murray's 23-point game on Friday pushed his season scoring average over 20 points (20.1) for the season. Ulis is averaging 16.6 points and 7.3 assists per game and Poythress averages 10.3 points per outing.
Georgia advanced to Saturday's semifinals with a come-from-behind 65-64 win over South Carolina on Friday night. J.J. Frazier tied the game at 64-64, then stole the ball, drawing a foul in the process. He was fouled on the play, and made one-of-two free throws to win the game. The Bulldogs are now 19-12 on the season heading into Saturday's contest.
The schedule for Saturday's semifinals begins with top-seeded Texas A&M facing LSU at 1 p.m. ET. The Kentucky-Georgia game will follow that one, at about 3:30 ET. Both games can be seen on ESPN.
Poythress Catches Fire, Leads Wildcats Past Crimson Tide in SEC Quarterfinals
Kentucky made its way through the regular season rarely playing at full strength, often relying on the likes of Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray to shoulder an abnormally heavy load.
But entering the postseason, the Wildcats are healthy. John Calipari, understandably, was excited about the prospect of having a quiver full of arrows, so to speak.
UK’s performance in its Southeastern Conference Tournament opener showed why Calipari is so excited.
Calipari got meaningful contributions from up and down his roster and the Cats (24-8) cruised past Alabama (18-14) and into the SEC Tournament semifinals in the process, 85-59. Eight players were on the floor for double-digit minutes Friday night and they all played a role as UK posted a season-best 1.47 points per possession.
The win sets up a matchup with Georgia at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. The Bulldogs came back to topple South Carolina, 65-64.
Jamal Murray, as is his custom, led UK in scoring. He had 23 points – including another five 3-pointers – to extend his streak of 20-point games to 11, but this time a teammate joined him in reaching the plateau. Poythress scored 20, giving him 59 on 20-of-24 shooting in three wins over the Crimson Tide.
Poythress did most of his damage inside against Alabama’s defense the first two times out, but he expanded his game to the perimeter on Thursday. He hit a career-best four 3-pointers in five tries, while UK made a season-high 13 in 22 attempts as a team.
So did Dominique Hawkins.
The junior guard checked in for the first time a little more than eight minutes in with the Cats trailing 12-10. Energy was lacking a bit at the time, but Hawkins wasn’t about to let that continue. On his first three offensive possessions, he assisted on a Derek Willis 3-pointer, hit a trey of his own and made a pretty floater.
UK would never trail again.
• Kentucky is 125-25 (.833) all-time in the SEC Tournament, including 42-11 (.792) in quarterfinal games
• UK is 18-2 (.900) in SEC Tournament games played in Nashville, including 15-2 (.882) in Bridgestone Arena
• Murray posted his 17th game this season with at least 20 points, his 11th game in a row. It’s the longest streak since Kevin Grevey had 12 consecutive 20-point games in 1974-75
Wildcats in the SEC Tournament Semifinals
For the third consecutive season the Wildcats will play for the chance to appear in the Southeastern Conference Tournament championship game on Saturday. The Wildcats will take on Georgia in the second semifinal game of the day on Saturday. UK is 39-2 all-time in semifinal contests. Kentucky owns a 2-0 record against the Bulldogs in such matchups.
UK leads the league with 28 SEC Tournament titles, including three under Calipari and last year’s championship. The Wildcats are 125-25 all-time in the SEC Tournament.
Kentucky defeated Georgia 88-48 in its only matchup of the season on Feb. 9. Jamal Murray scored 24 points while Tyler Ulis poured in 14 points and added eight assists. Derek Willis was the third UK player to top double-digits with 11 points, and he also pulled down six rebounds.