Fox adjusted as best as possible, rolling out a starting lineup with leading scorer Charles Mann as his only guard with four forwards and playing much of the game with big men.
While that helped the depleted Bulldogs win the rebounding and second-chance points against Kentucky, the Wildcats exploited vulnerabilities in other areas in rolling to a 79-54 victory.
“It’s not just that we lost Kenny Gaines, we lost Juwan Parker and we had no 2 guards,” said Fox, who added that he was hopeful of having both players after Friday’s walkthrough. “Not one. That had an impact on how we had to play, quite frankly. We had to basically play three bigs most of the game.
“We couldn’t play man defense because we couldn’t match up there, and it made us a little slow in transition in which they outran us. So, it impacted the game, but it’s part of it. You’ve got to deal with injury.”
Georgia (10-8, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) succeeded in outrebounding Kentucky 35-32 but shot just 16-of-49 (33 percent) and was outscored 36-24 in the paint in the only regular season meeting between the schools. The Bulldogs couldn’t get the loose ball when it needed to in the second half against the physical Wildcats.
And while Brandon Morris picked up the offensive load for Georgia with 15 points, he scored just three points in the second half. Mann scored nine points on 1-of-9 shooting.
Marcus Thornton had 10 points and nine rebounds.
“You had guys out there that are not used to playing certain positions,” Morris said, “and that kind of played a toll in our execution. At the end of the day, it was kind of on us.
“We can credit Kentucky’s defense because they have great defense. They played really well and they made it hard for us.”
Kentucky shot 50 percent (29-of-58) and outscored Georgia 20-6 on the fast break and bested its bench 22-7.
Georgia, meanwhile, had its two-game winning streak stopped three days after a 97-76 drubbing of South Carolina highlighted by a school record-tying 50 free-throw attempts. The Bulldogs had built their modest surge with strong rebounding and entered Saturday with a plus-10.4 margin per game to rank just ahead of third-place Wildcats (plus-10.0) in SEC play.
That category figured to be a challenge with Georgia facing Kentucky’s long, tall lineup featuring 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein and a trio of 6-6 freshman guards including James Young and twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison. Compounding the Bulldogs’ mission were the absences of Gaines and Parker, depriving them of 17 combined points that could have helped against the Wildcats.
Kentucky methodically took advantage, building a 34-22 halftime lead and outscoring the Bulldogs 45-32 in the second half. Georgia got within 37-31 with 16:21 remaining in the game before the Wildcats soon stretched the lead to double digits that rarely got below 20 points over the final eight minutes.
Aaron Harrison scored 15 points for Kentucky (15-4, 5-1). Julius Randle added 14 points while Young had 13 — including a couple of second-half 3-pointers — for the Wildcats, who won their third straight.
Alex Poythress had 11 points for Kentucky, which had 11 of 12 players score and finished 5-of-12 from 3-point range. Cauley-Stein recovered from a recent lull with eight points, six steals, six blocks and three rebounds.