Turnovers bite No. 20 Kentucky again; lose to Georgia Tech, 79-62
ATLANTA (UK Athletics) – Moses Wright scored 21 points and Georgia Tech recovered from a poor start to the season to beat No. 20 Kentucky 79-62 on Sunday, giving the Wildcats their third straight loss.
Georgia Tech (1-2) rebounded with a strong performance following losses to state rivals Georgia State and Mercer. The Yellow Jackets won with defense, with 15 steals leading to a dominant 33-4 advantage in points off turnovers.
Georgia Tech outscored the Wildcats 36-20 in the paint.
After opening the season with a win over Morehead State, the Wildcats (1-3) lost to Richmond and Kansas before seeing their losing streak stretched to three games.
Led by Wright, a 6-foot-9 junior, the Yellow Jackets took advantage of their edge in experience to beat a young Kentucky team.
Coach John Calipari started four freshmen. The Wildcats lost eight of their top nine scorers from last season. Keion Brooks Jr., the only returning scholarship player, has missed the first three games with an injury.
Kentucky led 22-20 before Georgia Tech took the lead with a 13-0 run. Wright had a reverse layup and free throw for a three-point play during the run. Wright caught a pass from Michael DeVoe before briefly losing control under the basket before making the reverse shot over his head off the backboard.
Bubba Parham, who had 17 points, and Khalid Moore made 3-pointers in the run that gave the Yellow Jackets their biggest lead of the half at 32-22.
A floater by Isaiah Jackson cut it to 45-42 early in the second half. The Yellow Jackets answered with an 11-0 run, including back-to-back baskets by Parham, to push the lead back to double figures.
Kyle Sturdivant had 15 points for Georgia Tech.
No tickets were sold in the game played at State Farm Arena, home of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks.
Even by Kentucky standards, this is a major rebuilding job and the Wildcats’ youth showed against Georgia Tech. Kentucky relied too heavily on 3-pointers. Clarke and B.J. Boston combined to make 6 of 11 3s, but the Wildcats had too little help on long-distance shots.
It was a key recovery for coach Josh Pastner’s Georgia Tech team. Pastner said he eased up on contact practice before the season, leaning on his team’s experience. That hurt the team’s preparation for its first two games but the Yellow Jackets turned up the intensity, especially on defense, against Kentucky.
Kentucky likely will be bounced from the Top 25 following their second loss by double figures.
Kentucky: Host Notre Dame on Saturday at noon.
Georgia Tech: At Nebraska on Wednesday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.