If he can keep that up for however long Vanderbilt is out - and beyond - Kentucky can win the SEC Tournament, and the Wildcats could do damage in the NCAA Tournament. Desean Murray hit his third 3-pointer and ripped off five straight points to put the Tigers up 41-31 over the Crimson Tide at halftime.
For Kentucky, avoiding an upset was the first step toward achieving success in the postseason.
Coach John Calipari said he was uncertain if Vanderbilt would play at all this weekend in St. Louis.
Yante Maten, the AP's SEC Player of the Year and a consensus first-team All-SEC pick, continues to the league in scoring by a full point per game at 19.6 ppg (Alabama's Collin Sexton is second at 18.6 ppg).
As a team, United Kingdom shot 42.6 percent to go with 39 rebounds, 14 assists and just five turnovers, as Kentucky led by as many as 17 points five minutes into the second half. Jarred Vanderbilt injured his ankle in a practice on Tuesday and is being evaluated day to day, according to UK. Vanderbilt watched while dressed in street clothes on the bench. Given the way this season played out, an extension, with two years remaining on his current contract, is unlikely.
"It's at noon?" Calipari said with an incredulous tone. "Jarred, what I saw today, he's still limping". The visitors led into the final five minutes until a three-pointer by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander pushed Kentucky toward a 66-61 victory on a night when the Wildcats made only 32 percent of their shots. Desean Murray scored 15 points, all in the first half. The Bulldogs used a strong high-low game with Maten, Derek Ogbeide, and Rayshaun Hammonds attacking the rim at will as they built the lead to as many as 38-13 in the first half. Kentucky had been looking good with four straight wins before ending the regular season with a loss at Florida. "It's in me", he said.
Everyone will be on edge, waiting to see if Georgia makes any immediate announcement on Fox who is in his ninth season with the Bulldogs.
Georgia, the 12th seed, led throughout the second half, but fifth-seeded Missouri narrowed the Bulldogs' lead to just two points with seven seconds left. Kentucky doesn't have to stop him, but they have to contain him. We just lost a game.
Georgia was playing its third game in as many days after advancing in the tournament with earlier victories over Vanderbilt and Missouri.
Kentucky's game plan was to simply wear the Bulldogs down from start to finish. "Our whole thing was, let's get to their legs. But I don't think it's tomorrow". "That's hard to do".
Maten finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
"I'm sure that (athletics director) Greg (McGarity) and I will meet at some point, and have conversations about trying to improve and grow out program", Fox said.
The Bulldogs had the look of an NCAA tourney team after starting the season 9-2, a stretch that ended with back-to-back wins over Georgia Tech and Temple.
"We just disrupted him and double-teamed him when he got too deep in the post", Kentucky forward Wenyen Gabriel said. We've got another game coming up soon.