By LARRY VAUGHT
Georgia had 10 players playing it their first Southeastern Conference game Tuesday against Kentucky and coach Tom Crean admitted he hopes they learned some valuable lessons in the loss.
The Bulldogs had a six-point halftime lead but were outscored 47-32 in the second half by John Calipari’s team.
“They (Kentucky) don’t go away. They’re incredibly physical and aggressive. That’s why they win. That’s why he’s such a great coach. That’s what it is. They’re going to keep coming at you,” Crean said.
“And they’re going to keep coming at you on the glass with two and three guys every time. So that’s all part of it. We’re not as physically strong as them. We know that. That’s why we have to do the switching and the things we’re trying to do.
“And it’s not the last time it’s going to happen with — we’re not going to have a matchup for a Nick Richards type of guy or somebody like that.”
Georgia has nine freshmen on its roster. Kentucky started two freshmen — Tyrese Maxey and Keion Brooks Jr. — along with two sophomores — Ashton Hagans and EJ Montgomery. The fifth starter was Richards, a junior.
“They’re young, but they’ve also got guys that have played a lot of minutes on that team,” Crean said after the game. “And they deserved to win because they dominated the glass and they got to the rim. And we did not get — we did not get very good defense from our better players tonight.”
Pretty sure one of those players was star freshman guard Anthony Edwards, who was spectacular on offense at times but also missed a lot of shots and had trouble guarding UK’s perimeter players.
Kentucky’s defense disrupted Georgia’s flow in the second half and several times led to easy UK scores, too.
“We tried to make some passes that weren’t there. It ratchets up, obviously. I’m not taking anything away from their defense. It ratchets up. They’re quick, alert, quick twitch. Active wrists and hands. Long. Those things will cause a problem,” Crean said.
“But a couple of our turnovers were just flat out unforced. That’s part of it. But when you add that up with the rebounding and then not making shots that take your spirit a little bit away when you come back on the defensive end, that’s youth. That’s youth and that’s what we’ve got to continue to grow from. And now we’ve got an SEC game to learn from.”