LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky vs. Georgia started as a dog fight, but it ended with the Wildcats roaring to an 85-71 victory over the Bulldogs inside Rupp Arena Tuesday night.
Oscar Tshiebwe's stellar second half helped the Cats surge past the Dogs, and he finished with a new career-high: 37 points, to go along with 24 rebounds in a jam-packed 37 minutes of play. Tshiebwe's previous career best came last season, when he scored 30 points against Vanderbilt, Arkansas and St. Peter's, while his season-best was 28 points against Yale.
With the win, Kentucky moves to 12-6 on the year and 3-3 in SEC play.
The Cats didn't start the game with much resemblance to the team that beat No. 5 Tennessee just three days ago. The offense looked disjointed and the defense, a bit lost. Georgia's guards were penetrating Kentucky's defense with ease, and the Bulldogs led for the entire half. Wallace ended the half on a high note with his second - and also the team's second - three-pointer of the half with just 22 seconds to play. The triple cut into the Bulldogs' lead, but Georgia still went to the locker room with 42-34 lead.
The Wildcats needed a halftime adjustment in the worst way, and who better to provide renewed life than the team's reigning national player of the year? Tshiebwe came out with a vengeance, scoring the Cats' first nine points of the second half, and securing a rebound off his own missed free throw, which led to CJ Fredrick's first, and only, three-point bucket of the day.
MISSED FREE THROW -- OSCAR REBOUND -- CJ FREDRICK 3! #BBN is loving it and the Cats have the lead for the first time tonight— BBN Tonight (@BBNTonight) January 18, 2023
Cats up 46-45 with 17:11 to play 🏀
Tshiebwe's energy was contagious. The entire team returned to their Saturday state of mind, playing with determination and frankly, more cohesion. The offense settled into a rhythm, and the Cats finished the night shooting 44 percent from the floor.
Cason Wallace was the team's second-leading scorer with 17points (7-11from the field, 2-4 from behind-the-arc and 1-2 from the free throw line). Antonio Reeves had 11 points in the win, while Jacob Toppin stuffed the stat sheet with a double-double of his own: 11 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, two blocks and one steal against the Bulldogs.
Win the win, Kentucky's confidence grows. It's another home game up next for the Wildcats: the Texas A&M Aggies come to Rupp Arena this Saturday at 2 p.m.