South Carolina @ Kentucky: Game Preview

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Lexington's own Darrin Horn invades Rupp Arena tomorrow at 3:00 PM with his South Carolina Gamecocks for a matinée performance with the Kentucky Wildcats.  This game pits an up-and-coming team that has arguably overachieved so far this year at 4-2 in the conference against the current class of the SEC.

We'll be taking a look at the South Carolina personnel, their team statistics and game analysis.  First the personnel:

Player Statistics (Courtesy of

Normal starters are highlighted in yellow:

# Player Pos Yr Ht Wt G MPG FG% FT% 3PT% True% RPG APG SPG BPG A/TO Eff/Pos PPG
  2 Downey,Devan G Jr. 5'9'' 175 19 31.8 47.2 77.6 33.3 55.4 2.6 4.3 3 0.2 1.3 0.29 19.6
  20 Fredrick II,Zam G Sr. 6'0'' 203 19 31.6 39.5 64.1 34.4 49.6 2.9 1.8 0.8 0.1 0.8 0.14 15.6
  21 Archie,Dominique F Jr. 6'7'' 200 19 28 53.3 62.5 39.4 60 6.8 0.8 1.6 1.1 0.5 0.26 11.5
  24 Holmes,Mike F So. 6'7'' 220 19 27.8 47.6 42.7 50 47.9 8.1 0.4 1.3 1.2 0.3 0.22 11
  31 Baniulis,Evaldas F Jr. 6'7'' 210 19 20.3 54.3 64.7 53 73.4 2.8 0.8 0.7 0.1 0.7 0.21 7.7
  5 Raley-Ross,Brandis G Jr. 6'2'' 193 13 25.8 41.9 68 30 51.8 3.1 1.9 0.7 0.2 1.1 0.15 6.8
  12 Conrad,Branden G Sr. 6'2'' 180 8 28.8 32.3 100 34.8 55.1 2.6 3.4 2.3 0 2.3 0.16 5
  44 Muldrow,Sam F So. 6'9'' 216 6 15.7 66.7 52.6 0 64.2 3.5 0.2 0.7 1.5 0.5 0.23 5
  25 Steed,Austin F So. 6'8'' 215 19 15.9 47.8 67.5 0 53.8 4.1 0.3 0.6 0.7 0.3 0.21 4.8
  55 Carter,Mitchell C Jr. 6'10'' 260 15 5.1 46.7 80 0 56.7 0.8 0 0 0.3 0 0.13 1.5
  14 Wilder,Robert G Jr. 6'1'' 185 17 7.9 25 42.9 50 42.4 0.3 0.4 0.2 0 0.9 0.05 0.4

Team Stats (Courtesy of

Kentucky South Carolina
Category Offense Defense Offense Defense D-I Avg
Adj. Efficiency: 108.7 [64] 87.2 [13] 106.0 [96] 91.6 [35] 100.5
Adj. Tempo: 70.1 [60]
74.1 [9]
Four Factors
Effective FG%: 55.0 [13] 42.3 [6] 51.6 [82] 47.1 [96] 48.9
Turnover %: 24.4 [319] 20.4 [194] 18.2 [40] 26.4 [7] 20.8
Off. Reb. %: 34.9 [116] 30.0 [64] 35.8 [75] 34.9 [244] 33.2
FTA/FGA: 43.3 [34] 32.9 [104] 38.2 [121] 34.8 [137] 36.3
Miscellaneous Components
3P%: 34.7 [148] 33.3 [137] 38.2 [38] 30.8 [28] 34.1
2P%: 56.3 [5] 38.5 [2] 49.5 [112] 47.4 [146] 47.8
FT%: 79.0 [5] 68.5 [158] 63.9 [300] 72.0 [309] 68.6
Block%: 7.1 [64] 18.2 [3] 9.4 [208] 10.1 [101] 8.9
Steal%: 10.8 [243] 9.0 [240] 9.4 [136] 13.4 [12] 10
Style Components
3PA/FGA: 31.2 [209] 33.0 [189] 27.5 [289] 27.5 [25] 33
A/FGM: 63.0 [24] 44.9 [12] 39.9 [343] 49.4 [55] 54.3
Point Distribution (% of total points)
3-Pointers: 22.6 [288] 30.8 [66] 24.7 [240] 21.3 [326] 27.5
2-Pointers: 53.7 [135] 48.2 [286] 56.2 [73] 57.7 [24] 52.2
Free Throws: 23.7 [34] 21.0 [145] 19.1 [230] 21.0 [146] 20.3
Strength of Schedule
Components: 101.9 [122] 100.7 [176] 100.7 [179] 103.5 [317] 100.5
Overall: 0.5343 [150] 0.4223 [250] 0.5
Non-conference: 0.4366 [233] 0.2497 [337] 0.5
Bench Minutes: 33.0% [130] 31.5% [166] 31.40%
Experience: 1.26 yrs [287] 2.02 yrs [64] 1.65
Effective Height: +1.6 [74] +0.2 [157] 0
Average Height: 78.6" [3] 75.5" [292] 76.5"



South Carolina is a small, fast team that likes to press, run and shoot the three. Darrin Horn is a disciple of Ralph Willard, who was the coach at Western Kentucky University when Horn played.  Willard, of course, played very much the same style as his mentor, Rick Pitino.  What we can expect from the Gamecocks is a derivative of the style Pitino used to play at Kentucky.  The former Lexington Tates Creek star will press and run and pressure the basketball, and all you have to do is look at the experience in the team analysis above to see that he has an edge in that area.  Two juniors, a senior and two sophomores will start for the Gamecocks.

South Carolina is one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the nation, and also is one of the best at defending the three, which is a very rare combination of factors.  South Carolina is quick enough and deep enough to face-guard Jodie Meeks just like Ole Miss  did, so Kentucky is going to have to face the possibility of having to find some other way to get points.

Zam Fredrick is a solid outside shooter and a slasher who can get points in a lot of different ways.  Devan Downey is a tiny blur who will shoot from anywhere, but more importantly, will get into the lane.    Sophomore swingman Mike Holmes shoots a high percentage from everywhere but the free throw line.  Dominique Archie is a major 3-point threat and shoots the ball very well from anywhere on the floor, and is a remarkable rebounder for only 6'7''.  He will be a serious matchup problem for Kentucky.

Personnel wise, the Wildcats do not match up well with the Gamecocks anywhere except inside.  South Carolina is quicker and more dynamic on the perimeter, and the are 12th in the Division I in steal%.  Devan Downey, Zam Fredrick and Dominique Archie present a unique and difficult matchup problem for most teams, and the Wildcats are no exception to that.  Favoring Kentucky, the Gamecocks have nobody that can begin to match up with Patterson, and he and Perry Stevenson will likely force the Gamecocks to shoot most of their shots from beyond the arc.


South Carolina's strengths are three point shooting and pressure defense.  They do these two things very well.  Kentucky's strengths are inside shooting and overall defensive efficiency, although UK's 3-point defense is not particularly good.  Kentucky blocks a ton of shots, which likely means that the Gamecocks will have difficulty scoring inside.  South Carolina is very experienced, which helps them make good decisions, and they take terrific care of the basketball.  Believe it or not, South Carolina is also a really good offensive rebounding team, but they also give up a lot of offensive rebounds.

Four factors analysis:

  • eFG%:  Advantage Kentucky on offense and defense.
  • Turnover%:  Advantage USC on both offense and defense.
  • Offensive Rebound %:  Advantage Kentucky on defense, USC on offense.
  • FT Attempts/FG Attempt:  Kentucky on offense and defense.


Even in Rupp Arena, South Carolina is a real matchup problem for Kentucky, and their strengths fall directly athwart Kentucky's weaknesses.  Analysis of this game is not really complicated at all -- if Devan Downey gets into the lane (and he will) and kicks to open three-point shooters, Kentucky is likely to lose this game.  Kentucky has not defended penetration well this year at all, and if the Gamecocks are on their game from the outside, I don't see how Kentucky wins.  If South Carolina does not make their three point shots, this could be a lopsided Kentucky victory.  USC tends to shoot worse on the road, so that inures to Kentucky's benefit.

This USC team is very, very difficult for a big team like Kentucky to defend.  They will set a lot of picks to free up shooters, and like Pitino's teams of old, USC will launch whenever they get an open look.  As you can see from the stats above, USC plays at a higher tempo than the 'Cats, and they will not waste any time in locating a shot and getting the ball in the air.  Defensively, the Gamecocks will try to turn the 'Cats over, and are plenty quick enough to deny Meeks the ball.  Unfortunately for them, that sword cuts both ways -- the Gamecocks have so little quality depth that if they dedicate a starter to harassing Meeks, he will likely take himself out of the game offensively due to fatigue.

Kentucky is going to have to pick their poison in this game, and it really works out to this -- hope that USC shoots badly or trust Patterson and Stevenson to block Downey's shot at the rim.  We don't possess a player quick enough to guard Downey, and if our rotations are not extraordinarily sharp, USC will get open shots from three.  If Stevenson and Patterson both rotate to Downey, then Muldrow and Holmes will get a lot of layups.  Fortunately for Kentucky, Downey is a rather inconsistent scorer on drives to the basket because of his small size, so we might be better of staying at home and challenging him at the rim.  You cannot cheat off of any of the South Carolina perimeter players -- they are all very good shooters and if you crowd them, they can all get to the rim.

Fortunately for Kentucky, South Carolina is not at all a deep team, and despite their speed, it will be hard for them to defend us if we are able to get into the open floor.  South Carolina plays poor transition and average half-court defense, preferring to use pressure to force early shots or turnovers.  But UK needs to get into transition as much as possible.  It seems to be playing into USC's hands, but I think it will be a net benefit for the 'Cats.

This is a very tough game for the Kentucky, primarily because we don't match up that well against USC, and they shoot the ball so well from the perimeter.  If Kentucky can take care of their defensive backboards, stay at home on the perimeter players and force tough 2-pointers from Downey, they can win this game.  If the 'Cats allow the Gamecocks to drive and kick to open shooters, the game will be a crap shoot.  UK can score inside all they want, and they must get the ball to Patterson early and often.

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