ATHENS, Ga. — Ashton Hagans silenced a hostile crowd by scoring a season-high 23 points, leading No. 12 Kentucky to a 69-49 victory over Georgia on Tuesday night.
The Wildcats (13-3, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) pulled away in the second half for their third straight victory.
Hagans, a freshman who initially committed to Georgia out of high school but wound up signing with Kentucky, was booed by the sellout crowd at Stegeman Coliseum each time he touched the ball.
It sure didn’t seem to bother him.
The point guard reached double figures for the fifth game in a row, eclipsing the 18 points he scored a week ago against Texas A&M. But the youngster’s contribution went much deeper on the stat sheet — he also had five rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Hagans’ performance was especially galling for a Georgia team that could’ve had him running the offense. The Bulldogs’ point guard, senior Turtle Jackson, managed only two points on 1-of-8 shooting.
Georgia (9-7, 1-3) led by five in the opening minutes before going to the locker room down 35-31.
Hagans took control after halftime. He knocked down a 3-pointer just ahead of the shot-clock buzzer, darted into the lane to lay one in, and scored off a steal by Tyler Herro to suddenly push the lead into double figures, 42-31.
Kentucky steadily pulled away from there.
In the closing minutes, as most of the red-clad fans headed for the exits, a sizeable contingent of Wildcat fans chanted, “Go Big Blue!”
Nicolas Claxton led Georgia with 12 points. The Bulldogs shot only 30 percent (17 of 56) from the field.
Hagans played his high school ball about an hour’s drive from Athens.
The freshman initially committed to play for the Bulldogs and their previous coach, Mark Fox. But Hagans backed off his commitment last February when it became apparent that Fox’s job could be in jeopardy. Indeed, Fox was fired after the season and replaced by Tom Crean.
Hagans wound up signing with Kentucky — though he remains a Georgia football fan.
Kentucky: Hagans is really taking control of the Wildcats after playing limited minutes early in the season.
Georgia: The Bulldogs still have a lot of work to do, especially in the backcourt. The other starting guard, Teshaun Hightower, had only five points.