LEXINGTON, Ky. – Doron Lamb scored 19 points, including a pair of crucial baskets to halt a late Georgia rally, and No. 14 Kentucky held off the Bulldogs 66-60 on Saturday.
The Wildcats (16-4, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) avenged a loss at Georgia three weeks ago by clamping down on the cold-shooting Bulldogs (14-6, 3-4) down the stretch.
Darius Miller added 14 points and seven rebounds for Kentucky, which never trailed while winning its 29th straight game at Rupp Arena, the second-longest active home streak in the country.
It wasn't exactly pretty. The Wildcats slogged through the final minutes after building a 13-point lead. The Bulldogs, however, had trouble taking advantage and never got closer than six.
Dustin Ware led Georgia with 18 points, but the Bulldogs shot a season-low 37 percent (21 of 57) and star Trey Thompkins struggled. The junior power forward, who lit up Kentucky for 25 points in a 77-70 victory Jan. 8, had nine points on 2 of 10 shooting in the rematch.
Kentucky coach John Calipari said he hoped the Wildcats had spent the three weeks since Georgia's dominating victory developing the kind of toughness needed to compete for a conference title.
The Bulldogs pushed the Wildcats around in Athens, Ga., doing whatever they wanted in the lane and playing the kind of physical defense that left Kentucky rattled.
The Wildcats came in winners of three of their last four, but even Calipari admitted he wasn't sure how much grit his team had acquired in the interim.
Grit turned out not to be a problem. Poise, on the other hand, remains an issue. Kentucky had ample opportunities to put Georgia away in the second half but struggled to make free throws (16 of 25) and hold onto the ball.
Still, the Wildcats had enough to remain undefeated at Rupp Arena under Calipari, thanks in part to the steady play of Lamb. He made 7 of 11 field goals, including consecutive buckets midway through the second half that gave Kentucky a 57-45 lead and blunted Georgia's momentum just enough.
Ware did his best to keep Georgia in it but received little help. Gerald Robinson added 12 points, but Travis Leslie missed all seven of his shots from the field and finished with five points.
Though Kentucky did a much better job of guarding Thompkins than it did earlier in the month, he still had opportunities to make things interesting late. Yet he missed four straight shots in the closing minutes when the Wildcats appeared to be teetering.
Instead, it's the Bulldogs who are wobbling after a hot start in league play. The loss was Georgia's third in its last four games.
While coach Mark Fox said he wasn't worried about a letdown following an emotional double-overtime loss to Florida on Tuesday, it took Georgia awhile to get going.
Kentucky raced to a 14-4 lead as Georgia looked a step slow. It took the Bulldogs a full half to collect themselves, but by then Kentucky had built a 39-24 lead behind the aggressive play of Lamb, Miller and Brandon Knight, who scored eight of his 11 points in the opening 20 minutes.
Yet the Wildcats couldn't quite pull away as Georgia chipped away at the lead. Each time the Bulldogs threatened to get back in it, however, Kentucky would get a stop or get a key basket to pull within a half-game of SEC East leading Florida.
The Wildcats travel to Gainesville, Fla., to face the Gators next Saturday.