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
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
"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.