ST. LOUIS (AP) — PJ Washington scored 18 points to help send Kentucky to the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament with a 62-49 victory over Georgia on Friday.
The fourth-seeded Wildcats (22-10), who have won the last three tournament championships and 30 titles overall, advanced to face Alabama on Saturday.
The 6-foot-7 Washington scored 11 of his points in the second half and finished 8 of 12 from the field. Kevin Knox and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander each added 15 points in the victory, which was Kentucky's fifth in its last six games following a four-game losing streak.
Tyree Crump led the No. 12 seed Bulldogs (18-15) with 17 points, while Associated Press SEC player of the year Yante Maten was held to nine points on 2 of 10 shooting.
Despite playing their third game in as many days, compared with Kentucky, making its first outing of the tournament, the Bulldogs took a 23-22 lead late in the first half after a pair of free throws by Maten. The edge was short-lived, however, when the Wildcats responded with an 8-0 run to take a 30-23 halftime lead and surged ahead by as many as 17 points in the second half.
Georgia: The Bulldogs saw their NCAA RPI rating climb from 81st to 72nd thanks to wins over Vanderbilt and Missouri over the tournament's first two days. However, they still likely needed to win the tournament to have a realistic chance of reaching coach Mark Fox's third NCAA Tournament in nine seasons at the school.
Kentucky: The Wildcats played without forward Jarred Vanderbilt, who was injured during practice earlier this week. The 6-foot-9 freshman has led Kentucky in rebounding with 7.9 boards per game since returning from a foot injury that kept him out for the first 17 games of the season. He's done so in only an average of 17 minutes per game.