|SCORE BY PERIODS|
|No. 1 Kentucky (19-0, 6-0 SEC)||34||24||58|
|South Carolina (10-8, 1-5 SEC)||24||19||43|
|Michael Carrera & Sindarius Thornwell|
Jan. 24, 2015
Final Stats | Quotes | Photo Gallery
COLUMBIA, S.C. – In a meeting of top-ten defenses, it would be No. 1 Kentucky (19-0, 6-0 SEC) that would win the day Saturday afternoon, beating South Carolina (10-8, 1-5) 58-43 in front of a capacity crowd at Colonial Life Arena. The Gamecocks held their opponent to its lowest scoring output of the season, but a season-low shooting percentage on the offensive end would be the difference in the loss.
It was a track meet early on, with both sides pushing the pace on every possession. The Gamecocks would score the opening basket and held an 8-6 lead before Kentucky would use a 7-0 to go ahead 13-8 with 13:46 to go. It would hold the two-possession lead until back-to-back baskets from Mindaugas Kacinas and Demetrius Henry would pull the home side within one, 18-17.
A quick five-points from the `Cats pushed the lead back up to six, but Carolina would answer with a 7-0 run to give it its first lead in over 11 minutes. Two baskets in the paint from Laimonas Chatkevicius and Marcus Stroman started it, and a 3-pointer from Sindarius Thornwell would put an emphatic cap on it. It would be the team’s first attempt from deep all game, and his make would put the Gamecocks up 24-23.
The lead would not last long, as Kentucky finished the final 4:31 of the half with a 11-0 run to take a 34-24 lead into the halftime break. Carolina committed three turnovers and missed on six field goal attempts during the scoring drought.
The Gamecocks would make just 8-of-30 shots from the field in the opening 20 minutes (27 percent), but were lifted offensively by seven free throws. Kentucky’s great advantage would come in transition, as it turned seven home turnovers into 12 points.
As the second half got underway, the nation’s top defense flexed its muscles, as Kentucky limited South Carolina to just four field goals in the final 20 minutes. Carolina would go six minutes between baskets from Michael Carrera (12:27), Justin McKie (6:11) and Thornwell’s make with 16 seconds left to play in regulation.
Despite the misses, Kentucky would only outscore the Gamecocks 24-19 over the final 20 minutes and made just six field goals as a team in the half. That would come thanks in part to a strong day on the glass for the home team.
Led by nine rebounds for Carrera, Carolina outrebounded Kentucky 40-28 with 18 offensive rebounds. It was the first time since Dec. 13 (seven games) that the Wildcats were outrebounded, and the team entered Saturday’s game with a rebound margin of +9.4.
Thornwell’s 14 points would lead the team, and every Gamecock in the nine-man rotation scored at least two points.
After taking a 24-23 lead with 4:31 to play in the first half, Kentucky would go on a 16-1 run spanning the rest of the first half and the first five minutes of the second half to go ahead 39-25. The Wildcats would lead by double figures for the rest of the game.
KEY STAT The Gamecocks were just 9-of-43 on two-point field goals for the game, but were able to attempt 14 more shots than Kentucky thanks to 18 offensive rebounds. That total is the most since Nov. 23 against Akron.
- Saturday’s game vs. Kentucky was the sixth sellout in Colonial Life Arena history for a Gamecock men’s basketball game and the first since also facing Kentucky on Jan. 22, 2011.
- Today’s game was the seventh time this season that Carolina held an opponent to under 60 points, the team had been 6-0 in those games until today.
- This was Carolina’s 12th meeting with the Associated Press’ No.1 team. The loss moves the Gamecocks to 1-11, with the lone win coming against Kentucky in 2010. The previous meeting with a No. 1 was last season against Florida.
- Kentucky held a 21-6 advantage in points off turnovers for the game. It was the largest margin of any Carolina game so far this season, and the second-most allowed to any opponent this season (23 to Alabama).
- This is just the fifth time under Frank Martin that the team has failed to score 50 points in a game. All five games have come against SEC opponents. It is the fewest points in a game since scoring 36 against Florida during the 2012-13 season, Martin’s first as head coach at Carolina.
QUOTABLE South Carolina Head Coach Frank Martin
I’m real proud of our guys. They were willing to fight. Like the old saying says, sometimes the bear gets you and sometimes you get the bear. Today, the bear got us. That’s who we were up until January 3rd and that’s what we’re looking for to refine and kind of rediscover our team. I think that we did after we played Tennessee. Right after that game we figured out that we needed to rediscover ourselves. We’ve done that in the last two days of practice. I couldn’t be prouder of the fight and the attention to detail that we played with today. It’s hard to beat anybody, none the less the number one team in the country when we shot 22 percent, but if our fight is where it needs to be, we’ll be ok.
South Carolina travels to LSU on Wednesday, Jan. 28 for a 7 p.m. ET matchup vs. the Tigers. That contest will be broadcast on the SEC Network with Mike Morgan and Dane Bradshaw on the call. South Carolina holds a 15-14 advantage in the all-time series with LSU. The Gamecocks won the last meeting in Baton Rouge, 82-73, on Jan. 16, 2013, in overtime for Frank Martin’s first SEC victory.
TWEETS OF THE GAME
Excited about today’s game! Go #Gamecocks you can win this one!! @CLAmktg pic.twitter.com/zDBGsmwzDg
— cecarey311 (@cecarey311) January 24, 2015