The Kentucky Wildcats are moving on in the SEC Tournament.
The Cats kicked off tournament play on Friday against a feisty Georgia team needing to win it all to make it to the NCAA Tournament. While the Bulldogs battled, the Cats used a suffocating defensive effort to score a 62-49 win.
Just like the first time these two teams played in late December, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had a big game that helped carry his team to victory. The freshman guard finished with 15 points, nine assists, four rebounds and two steals.
Kevin Knox wasn’t far behind in terms of total production. The freshman forward finished with 15 points and nine rebounds.
Fellow freshman forward PJ Washington also had a big game with 18 points and seven rebounds.
Those three actually combined for 25 first-half points in what was otherwise an ugly half for both clubs, as UK held a 30-23 lead at the break. They wound up scoring 48 of UK’s 62 total points.
While Knox and Washington had good games, this MVP award goes to the Gilgeous-Alexander, as he made a big impact on both ends of the floor.
While he took on a big offensive workload, his defense helped keep Georgia’s starting backcourt in check, as Juwan Parker and William Jackson finished with a combined 12 points on 5-of-18 shooting, one assist and three turnovers.
My favorite play from Shai came late in the game with UK leading by 12 with four minutes left. Shai drove to the paint and pulled up for a jumper he missed but jumped into traffic and ripped away the rebound to extend the possession. Those are the kind of hustle plays he routinely makes the often get overlooked, but UK needs every last one of them to keep winning in March.
Here is the final box score from win No. 22 for the Cats this season:
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