Kentucky holds on in SEC opener

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - This time, DeMarcus Cousins threw his
headband - not his elbows - when he got angry.
Good thing. No. 3 Kentucky needed its freshman center - and his
elbows - to hold off Georgia.
Cousins scored seven of his 16 points in the final 3 minutes as
the Wildcats stayed unbeaten with a gritty 76-68 win over the
Bulldogs on Saturday.
It was redemption of sorts for Cousins, who spent the last week
fending off angry Facebook messages from Louisville fans after
throwing an elbow at Louisville forward Jared Swopshire early in
Kentucky's 71-62 win over the Cardinals.
Cousins received a technical foul on the play, though the TV
announcers said he should have been ejected. He shrugged off the
criticism but allowed he has to do better job keeping his volatile
emotions in check.
He did against Georgia, staying under control despite spending
most of his 25 minutes on the floor wrestling underneath the basket
with the handful of Bulldogs charged with stopping him.
"I'm pretty cut up," Cousins said.
Welcome to life in the Southeastern Conference.
At one point the Bulldogs knocked off Cousins' trademark white
headband while he drove to the basket. Cousins picked it up and
threw it to the sideline, but kept his cool.
"I just told him to play through that," said Kentucky coach
John Calipari.
Calipari rewarded Cousins' newfound maturity with the ball.
The Wildcats fed it to him constantly over the final minutes,
and he responded by scoring seven straight points, including the
game-clinching lay-up with 36 seconds left.
"He was a beast," Calipari said.
So was Patrick Patterson, who finished with 17 points. Freshman
superstar John Wall also had 17 for the Wildcats, who moved to 16-0
for the first time since winning their first 23 games in 1965-66.
It wasn't easy. There were 12 lead changes and nine ties as
Georgia hung around despite turning it over 26 times against
Kentucky's unrelenting press.
The Bulldogs (8-6, 0-1 SEC) nearly pulled off their second
straight upset behind a season-high 20 points from Travis Leslie
and 17 points and 13 rebounds from Trey Thompkins.
Georgia knocked off No. 20 Georgia Tech on Tuesday, but couldn't
duplicate the feat against the Wildcats. Kentucky wore the Bulldogs
down over the final 6 minutes, limiting them to six points and
forcing six turnovers.
"We turned it over too much on the road," said Georgia coach
Mark Fox. "We had 13 both halves and that's too many when you're
on the road. We just weren't complete on all parts of the game."
Kentucky wasn't much better. The Wildcats made just 2 of 14
3-point attempts for the second straight game, and Calipari
criticized a lack of production from his bench. Kentucky's reserves
had just nine points.
"For us to be one of (the good) teams, our bench is going to
have to be deep," Calipari said. "It wasn't this game. Hopefully,
the next game it will be fine."
Cousins' heroics didn't appear to be necessary early. The
Wildcats quickly built an 11-point lead and appeared to be on
cruise control in front of a capacity crowd that included movie
star Ashley Judd and Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.
Georgia, however, didn't back down. Borrowing a page from
Louisville, the Bulldogs opted to get physical with the Wildcats.
Georgia bumped, grabbed and nudged Wall wherever he went, and this
week's Sports Illustrated cover story was mortal for most of his 34
Wall made just 5 of 14 shots - including two missed dunks - and
was twice whistled for traveling.
The Bulldogs did the same to Cousins, as Albert Jackson, Chris
Barnes and Jeremy Price all fouled out trying to keep the Wildcats
in check.
"DeMarcus and Patrick are great players, everybody knows
that," Thompkins said. "They have the ability to make you foul
them and it just worked to perfection."
The win was the 62nd straight conference victory for Calipari.
The first 61 game while he was helping Memphis run roughshod over
the Conference USA.
Things will be considerably more difficult in the SEC.
"(Georgia) never quit playing and that is what happens in this
league, and that was at home," Calipari said. "I can't imagine
how that will be on the road."
The Wildcats find out on Tuesday when they travel to Florida.

Leslie 9-13 2-3 20, Thompkins 5-15 6-6 17, Ware 2-5 2-2 7, McPhee 4-9 2-2 13, Jackson 1-3 0-0 2, Barnes 1-5 0-2 2, Williams 1-1 0-0 3, Mayfield 0-0 0-0 0, Anyaorah 0-0 0-0 0, Zlovaric 0-0 0-0 0, Price 2-2 0-0 4. Totals 25-53 12-15 68.
Miller 1-2 3-5 5, Patterson 8-13 1-1 17, Cousins 5-10 6-10 16, Wall 5-14 6-9 17, Bledsoe 4-13 3-3 12, Liggins 2-3 2-2 6, Stevenson 0-0 0-0 0, Harris 0-0 0-0 0, Dodson 0-3 0-1 0, Orton 1-2 1-2 3. Totals 26-60 22-33 76.
Halftime-Georgia 35-34. 3-Point Goals-Georgia 6-14 (McPhee 3-8, Williams 1-1, Thompkins 1-2, Ware 1-3), Kentucky 2-14 (Bledsoe 1-3, Wall 1-3, Miller 0-1, Liggins 0-1, Cousins 0-1, Patterson 0-2, Dodson 0-3). Fouled Out-Barnes, Jackson, Price. Rebounds-Georgia 36 (Thompkins 13), Kentucky 33 (Cousins 7). Assists-Georgia 10 (McPhee, Thompkins 3), Kentucky 9 (Wall 5). Total Fouls-Georgia 25, Kentucky 15. A-24,342.

Team Records and Series Notes

• Kentucky is 16-0 while Georgia is 8-6. This was the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.
• Kentucky’s 16-0 start is its best since the 1965-66 squad opened with 23 consecutive wins.
• This is the only the fourth time in school history that the Wildcats have begun a season with at least 16 straight wins.
• John Calipari’s 16-0 start is the best start by a UK coach in his inaugural season in UK history.
• This is the sixth time in John Calipari’s collegiate coaching career that he has had a winning streak of at least 16 games.
• Kentucky leads the Georgia series, 111-24.
• Kentucky is 60-17 in SEC openers.
• Kentucky returns to action on Tuesday at 9 p.m. at Florida. The game will be televised by ESPN.

First-Half Notes
• Kentucky used the starting lineup of Eric Bledsoe, John Wall, Darius Miller, Patrick Patterson and DeMarcus Cousins for the 14th time this season.
• Trailing 6-4, Kentucky went on a 9-0 run for a 13-6 lead.
• Some players are known as “instant offense.” DeAndre Liggins has been instant defense. Entering the game at the 13:05 mark, he contributed two steals, two free throws, a basket, a rebound and took a charge before leaving the game three minutes later.
• Kentucky extended its lead to as many as 11 at 21-10.
• Georgia bounced back with a 21-5 run to take a 31-26 advantage. The Bulldogs extended the lead to six, 35-29, with 1:39 left in the half.
• The Wildcats scored the last five points of the period, leaving Georgia ahead 35-34 at halftime.

Second-Half Notes

• The teams battled back and forth in the second half, with UK having season highs for ties and lead changes.
• Kentucky got its first three-pointer of the game with 14:46 to go when Wall connected from the left wing, putting the Wildcats ahead 46-44.
• Trailing 59-57, Kentucky took the lead for good with an 11-3 run, giving the Wildcats their biggest lead of the half at 68-62.
• Leading just 70-68 with one minute to go, UK scored the last six points on the game on a basket by Cousins, two foul shots from Wall and a game-sealing dunk by Wall with 10 seconds left.


Team Notes

• Key stats for the Wildcats:
o UK won points in the paint, 46-28
o UK forced 26 turnovers and won points off turnovers, 25-15.
• This game featured nine ties and 12 lead changes, UK’s most of the season in both categories.

Individual Notes
• Patrick Patterson had 17 points and six rebounds.
o Patterson has scored in double figures in 11 straight games and all but one this season.
o Patterson moved past Jim Master for 30th place on the UK career scoring list. Patterson has scored 1,284 points as a Wildcat.
• John Wall had 17 points and a game-high five assists.
• DeMarcus Cousins totaled 16 points, seven rebounds, two blocked shots and a career-high three steals.

o Once again, Cousins turned in a strong performance in the second half. Sidelined by foul trouble in the first half, he scored 12 of his 16 points in the final period. For the season, Cousins is averaging 15.4 points per game, 9.3 of which are coming in the second half.
o Cousins broke a string of four-consecutive double-double games.
• DeAndre Liggins provided a spark off the bench, tallying six points, three steals, one rebound and one charge taken in 14 minutes of action.

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