Darius Miller had 19 points to help lead No. 1 Kentucky to a 57-44 road win over Georgia Tuesday night.
By PAUL NEWBERRY
AP Sports Writer
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) - Darius Miller came off the bench to score 19 points and Kentucky cruised in its first game since returning to No. 1 in the rankings, beating Georgia 57-44 on Tuesday night.
Miller, who had started eight of the previous nine games for the Wildcats (20-1, 6-0 Southeastern Conference), returned to the sixth-man role he had played earlier in the season. It didn't really matter. The senior made 7 of 8 shots, including all four from 3-point range.
Kentucky used spurts of 10-0 and 10-1 to build a 38-26 halftime lead. The Bulldogs (10-10, 1-5) never threatened in the second half, even though the Wildcats cooled off considerably. They went more than 5 minutes without scoring and made just 7 of 23 shots over the final 20 minutes.
Kentucky, which had been No. 1 in The Associated Press rankings for two weeks early in the season, returned to the top spot after Syracuse lost last weekend.
For one half at least, the Wildcats lived up to the billing against a rebuilding Georgia team that has lost five of its last six, but did start out with some inspired play before its first home sellout of the season.
Led by Nemanja Djurisic's 10 points, Georgia kept it close for much of the opening half. The Bulldogs withstood that 10-0 run by Kentucky and trailed only 23-22 with less than 6 minutes to go in the period.
Suddenly, the Wildcats turned it on. Kyle Wiltjer knocked down a 3-pointer, then passed to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for a dunk. Dustin Ware answered for the home team with a 3-pointer, but that jumper with 5:01 remaining was Georgia's final field goal of the half.
Kentucky scored 10 of the last 11 points in the half, with Miller scoring seven straight on a 3-pointer and two jumpers from inside the arc.
Wiltjer added his second 3-pointer of the half, and the Wildcats went to the locker room with a comfortable 12-point lead. The Bulldogs staggered toward their tunnel with heads down, knowing they had given Kentucky their best shot and still faced a double-digit deficit.
In the second half, neither team played with much intensity and the crowd amused itself with dueling chants of "Go Big Blue!" vs. "U-G-A!" There certainly wasn't much to cheer about on the court, with Kentucky appearing to play down to its competition and Georgia never mounting much of a run.
Still, the Wildcats made it look easy with their 12th straight victory since their only loss, a 73-72 setback to Indiana on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer. They have won by an average of 17.3 points during the streak.
Kidd-Gilchrist was the only other Kentucky player in double figures with 14 points.
Ware led Georgia with 12 as Djurisic failed to score in the second half.