ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia squared off against the only other unbeaten team in the Southeastern Conference on Friday night, and earned a 4-1 win against No. 14 Kentucky at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex to move into sole possession of first place in the league standings. The Bulldogs (11-5, 6-0) have won eight consecutive matches and 22 in a row at home.
"We're getting a little better every time out, and getting some momentum and confidence," said head coach Manuel Diaz - who stands just four wins shy of 600 for his career. "[Being in first place] is an opportunity for the guys to feel like their hard work is paying off, but we have a long way to go in the conference."
The Bulldogs took an early 1-0 lead by claiming the doubles point for the 12th time in 16 tries this season. Nathan Pasha and Garrett Brasseaux won 8-5 against Alejandro Gomez and Beck Pennington at No. 2, and were soon followed by 21st-ranked Ben Wagland and Hernus Pieters versus No. 26 Tom Jomby and Kevin Lai 8-4 at No. 1 to seal it. Wagland and Pieters have won five in a row.
Georgia jumped in front 2-0 when reigning SEC Player of the Week Austin Smith cruised to a 6-3, 6-1 win against Gomez at No. 2, marking his eighth consecutive victory and team-leading 28th of the season. Kentucky cut the lead in half at 2-1 when Jomby bested Pasha 6-3, 6-3 at No. 1, but Georgia stormed back with a 7-6(4), 6-1 win for Nick Wood versus Grant Roberts at No. 6 to make it 3-1.
With the teams battling on each of the remaining three courts, the Bulldogs then got the deciding point from Pieters at No. 5, as he broke late in the third set and held on to win 6-0, 3-6, 6-3 over Lai -- wrapping up the victory for Georgia with his team-best fourth clinch of the year.
Kentucky falls to 12-5 (5-1) with the loss, while Georgia improves to 43-9 all-time vs. UK.