The Wildcats (20-10, 11-6 Southeastern Conference) took a second straight road loss and head into the regular-season finale against No. 11 Florida in desperate need of a quality win to bolster their resume.
After Georgia (15-15, 9-8) pushed out to a double-digit lead, Kentucky ripped off a quick 7-0 spurt capped by Kyle Wiltjer’s 3-pointer. That turned out to be the Wildcats’ last hurrah.
Nemanja Djurisic got inside for a run-stopping basket, Caldwell-Pope knocked down four straight free throws, and another Kentucky miss sparked a Georgia fast break that was capped by Caldwell-Pope’s rim-hanging dunk.
Just like that, the Bulldogs restored a 58-47 lead.
Archie Goodwin scored 20 points to lead Kentucky, but it was a miserable shooting night for the defending national champions. They were only 23-of-62 from the field (37.1 percent), 6-of-26 from 3-point range and just 10-of-18 on free throws.
Putting the perfect capper on the night for Georgia, Caldwell-Pope sliced off the wing for another thunderous dunk with a minute to go, finishing off any hopes of a Kentucky comeback. The sophomore posted his fifth double-double of the season.
Goodwin, Alex Poythress and Ryan Harrow all fouled out for Kentucky. The Wildcats, on the other hand, didn’t even get into the second-half bonus until just 7 seconds remained, long after it mattered.
By then, Georgia already had cleared its bench, giving everyone a chance to play in the final home game of the season.
The Bulldogs set an early tone when Goodwin had his driving shot swatted away by Donte Williams, sparking a Georgia fast break that ended with Sherrard Brantley laying it in at the other end.
Georgia raced off the court at halftime with even more momentum, knocking down a couple of 3s in the closing seconds.
After Brantley swished one from beyond the arc, Kentucky ran the clock down and appeared to deliver the final salvo when Wiltjer got inside for a lay-in with 6 seconds left. But the Bulldogs raced down the court and Caldwell-Pope got off a long trey that rattled around the rim, dropping in as the horn sounded for a 31-26 edge.
Willie Cauley-Stein had 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Wildcats. Wiltjer added 12 points, Harrow 11.
Djurisic scored 12 points for Georgia and Williams chipped in with 10.