ATLANTA --Aaron Harrison scored a game-high 22 points Saturday and second-ranked Kentucky led from start to finish in a 70-58 win against third-seeded Georgia to send the Wildcats into the 2014 Southeastern Conference Men's Basketball Tournament Championship Game on Sunday at the Georgia Dome.
Kentucky (24-9) placed four players in double-figure scoring and the Wildcats shot 51.0 percent (26-of-51) from the field in the game. Andrew Harrison's 22 points came on 7-of-10 shooting with four three-pointers, while James Young scored 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting. Andrew Harrison and Julius Randle each added 12 points, while Randle brought down a game-high 11 rebounds.
Georgia (19-13) was led by 13 points from Kenny Gaines and 12 from Charles Mann. The Bulldogs shot 44.7 percent (17-of-38) from the field and made just 3-of-13 three-pointers. Georgia connected on 21-of-30 free-throw attempts.
The Wildcats out-rebounded the Bulldogs 36-21, while Georgia's bench outscored Kentucky's reserves 23-4.
Kentucky advances to Sunday's SEC Tournament Championship Game, where it will face top-seeded Florida. That game is slated for a 3:15 p.m. ET start on ESPN.
Observations From Frank Giardina Longtime sports journalist and collegiate athletics administrator Frank Giardina will offer his thoughts and observations throughout each game of the 2014 SEC Men's Basketball Tournament.
***One of the most memorable Final Fours in history is the 1983 Final Four in Albequerque, NM. That was the Final Four won by heavy underdog Jim Valvano and N. C. State over might Phi Slamma Jamma Houston. Every year we see the video of Jim Valvano running around the floor after the game looking for someone to hug. One of the more famous semi-final games also took place that year as Houston outlasted Louisville. Many forget that the other semi-final featured an SEC team, the Georgia Bulldogs. That was a magical run for Georgia in the tournament. The Bulldogs knocked off VCU 56-54, then upset the top seed in the east, St. Johns 70-67. Georgia than upset Michael Jordan and North Carolina 82-77 to advance to the Final Four.
***Everyone knows the storied history of Kentucky basketball. It is a history full of national championships, NCAA Tournament appearances and All-Americans. In all of Wildcat history, the most forgotten about All-American might be former Kentucky great Cotton Nash. Nash played for Adolph Rupp from 1962-64 and was a consensus All-American as a senior. Other players on that All-American squad were Bill Bradley (Princeton), Dave Stallworth (Wichita State), Gary Bradds (Ohio State) and Walt Hazzard (UCLA.) Nash was more than a basketball player. There have not been many All American basketball players who also excelled in baseball. Nash also played baseball at Kentucky and later made the major leagues. He played in the major leagues briefly with the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins Series Notes: • All-Time Series: Kentucky leads 117-26 • SEC Tournament: Kentucky leads 9-1 • Season Series: Kentucky 2-0 • In the lone regular-season meeting, Kentucky prevailed 79-54 in Lexington on Jan. 25
• Kentucky never trailed in the game. Georgia pulled within two points at 41-39 with 15:11 left, but the Wildcats responded with a 27-13 run over the next 13 minutes. • Kentucky outrebounded Georgia 36-21. • Bench points were 23-4 in favor of Georgia. • Kentucky shot a season-low 50.0 percent (9-for-18) from the free throw line. Kentucky Notes: • Kentucky improves to 24-9 and wins for just the third time in its last six games. • Kentucky advances to the SEC Tournament finals for the fourth time in the last five years and the first time since 2012. It marks the Wildcats' league-high 38th all-time finals appearance. • Aaron Harrison matched his career high for 3-pointers with four and notched his eighth 20-point performance and first in four games with 22. • Julius Randle registered his sixth straight double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. • For the second straight game, Andrew Harrison set a career-high for assists with nine. He has 17 (8.5 apg) in the tournament. He also tied his career for 3-pointers with two and scored his most points in five games with 12.
Georgia Notes: • Georgia falls to 19-13 and ends its three-game win streak. • Kenny Gaines scored double-figures for the ninth straight game with a team-high 13. • Charles Mann recorded his fourth straight game with double-figure points with 12. • Juwan Parker poured in his most points in the last nine games with seven, all on free throws (7-of-8).