Kentucky basketball dominated by South Carolina: recap, 3 takeaways, and more
The Kentucky Wildcats were blown out by the South Carolina Gamecocks on Tuesday night in Columbia by a score of 79-62.
The Gamecocks got tough on the Cats from the get-go, and it wasn’t pretty. As usual, SEC officials allowed them to spoil the game simply by committing so many fouls that it became impossible to call everyone.
Regardless, Kentucky was not willing to match the physicality and got off to a very slow start as South Carolina led 33-25 at halftime.
After the break, Kentucky collapsed. They didn’t defend (what’s new?), but what was worse was that they couldn’t score. It was only the second time this season that the Cats failed to surpass the 80-point mark. They were quite awkward on the road.
Next, the Cats will travel to Fayetteville to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday night.
Here are three things to know from what was arguably Kentucky’s most troubling performance of the season.
Kentucky has the best offense in the country. They are averaging 91.6 points per game, and have only scored fewer than 80 points once this season.
They just dropped 105 points on Georgia last Saturday after scoring 90 points against a top-10 Mississippi State defense a few days ago. Well, they couldn’t hold their own against another top defensive team in South Carolina.
The Cats were unhinged off the edge. South Carolina’s intensity and physicality caused the young Cats to collapse. With how bad Kentucky’s defense is, it’s clear that the concern is compounded when they don’t score as well.
The deep ball wasn’t falling. They couldn’t get to the rim like they usually do. They didn’t pass the ball. It became a one-on-one game to see if anyone could get a basket because the offense wasn’t working.
Big Z has a long way to go
Zvonimir Ivecic exceeded even the wildest expectations in his long-awaited debut against Georgia on Saturday. He started his career by blocking a shot, dishing down a behind-the-back assist, and knocking down his first four shots, including three deep balls.
He finished his first career collegiate contest with 13 points, five rebounds, two assists, three blocks and three steals in just 16 minutes of action. Overall, he was 5-7 from the field and 3-4 from three. It was nothing short of amazing.
Well, that new shine quickly disappeared. Big Z is an extremely talented and skilled player with a high ceiling, but he’s far from a finished product, and he’s not just going to set the college basketball world on fire. Just as we saw with Aaron Bradshaw, inconsistency is the only thing most freshmen have that is consistent. It is what it is.
The 7-foot-2 Croatian was clearly upset by South Carolina’s tough, physical style of play. He made three fouls fairly quickly and never looked comfortable. Although the debut was exciting, it is reasonable to expect ups and downs in the future.
Dillingham did not shy away from pressure
Although Kentucky was bad offensively, it wasn’t all bad. Rob Dillingham showed no signs of being intimidated by the rowdy Columbia crowd. He was Kentucky’s best player in this game and by far their most confident.
Dele certainly has his flaws, but his style of play and confidence puts him a step ahead of the rest of his team in this particular game. He was especially effective in the mid-range game. Although Kentucky seems to intentionally stay away from the mid-range shot due to efficiency caps, sometimes, you just have to take what the defense gives you.
Rob’s never back down mentality was the only real positive to take away from this game.
Time to bounce back.