NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The opening semifinal in Saturday's SEC tournament was a complete dud, but the second game made up for it.
Georgia and Kentucky ran up and down the floor at a blistering, not to mention entertaining, pace, with the Wildcats finally pulling away late for a 93-80 victory. The Wildcats will vie for their 29th SEC tournament victory on Sunday at Bridgestone Arena when they face Texas A&M in the championship game.
This was anybody's game with just under seven minutes to play. Georgia coach Mark Fox, whose Bulldogs were playing their third game in three days, did a masterful job of substituting to keep his guys fresh. At times, he'd bring in five new guys at a time. The Bulldogs extended their defensive pressure and led 49-44 at the half.
But the game started to turn around at the 10-minute mark of the second half. The Wildcats (25-8) took their first lead since the first half on Isaiah Briscoe's rebound bucket with 8:15 to play. And from there, it was too much Tyler Ulis and too much Jamal Murray, who combined for 51 points (Murray had 26 and Ulis 25).
Ulis drained a 3-pointer in front of the UK bench with 4:08 left to make it a 79-72 game, and Murray scored less than a minute later on a tough drive for a 81-72 lead. The Dawgs (19-13) called timeout, but they were done, and the Cats were on their way to their ninth win in their last 11 outings.
Big Blue answer: Most impressive about Kentucky's win was the way the Wildcats punched back. They were outplayed in the first half, and Georgia was playing with a lot of confidence. But when it came time to win the game midway through the second half, Kentucky made 5 of- 6 shots with four different players scoring for the Wildcats.
Heating up: After shooting just 33.3 percent from 3-point range in the first half, Kentucky made 5-of-9 (55.6 percent) in the second half.
Dawgs make a case: With three wins over South Carolina this season, Georgia at least entered the conversation for an NCAA tournament berth, and a win over Kentucky would have really strengthened the Dawgs' case. They're probably on the outside looking in now, which means it could be a dicey Selection Sunday for the SEC. Kentucky and Texas A&M are definitely in, but South Carolina and Vanderbilt are squarely on the bubble.