Well, except for the last 3 minutes, that game was outstanding. But in a mere 180 seconds, the Kentucky Wildcats went from having one of their better games to fighting off a wild comeback by the South Carolina Gamecocks. In the end, Kentucky won more or less convincingly, but I'd feel a lot better about it if the 'Cats had finished better.
Great effort by South Carolina down the stretch. After playing a pretty unconvincing home game in the first 37 minutes, the Gamecocks tried to get it all back in the final 3 and nearly did. However, their valiant effort fell short, just as Kentucky's did against the Alabama Crimson Tide earlier this week. Comebacks are relatively easy to start, but devilishly hard to complete.
This game was something of a return to normalcy for Kentucky, at least for the most part. Terrence Jones set the tone in the first with repeated highlight-reel dunks, but returned to his enigmatic self in the second half and allowed the front line of the Gamecocks to gain confidence and return the favor. Overall, the Wildcats played most of the game with confidence and skill, but that last 3 minutes will be cause for comment throughout the Big Blue Nation for the next week, because Kentucky doesn't play again until next Saturday. Based on what we just saw, they could use some work on their late-game execution.
More after the jump.
- Darius Miller. This was far and away Miller's best and most complete game. Not only was he unstoppable in the midrange game, he rebounded well and defended well. The only thing he did poorly was take care of the ball with 4 turnovers. Game ball.
- Doron Lamb was back to his old self, and even though he didn't make a single three and made only one 1-point shot, he was huge from the free throw line, making 7-8, several under pressure.
- Terrence Jones was a major factor despite loathsome 5-13 shooting. Jones had 3 steals and two blocks to go along with his 14 points, and was a big factor defensively despite a scary landing on the basketball with his left foot.
- Brandon Knight was great. He had 5 turnovers against only 2 assists, but he took Bruce Ellington to school, and kept him in foul trouble all night.
- DeAndre Liggins had a terrible shooting game, but he didn't let that bother him. He had as many rebounds as Terrence Jones and simply smothered the guys he guarded.
- Josh Harrellson played very well. He rebounded the basketball and made a couple of good defensive plays. He might wind up on the bad end of Ramon Galloway's poster, though.
Overall, this was a good road win. Kentucky did a good job of getting to the line and making free throws. They didn't shoot the ball great at only 42%, but their defensive effort was outstanding and they brought the intensity level to the game that it required. I know many of you, like me, will be displeased with the way Kentucky finished the game, but in the end, it was a victory for a team that desperately needed one, and on the road.
Next, we get a shot at revenge on the Georgia Bulldogs in Lexington.