Well, Kentucky fans, every once and a while a game comes along in which the Wildcats dominate in every aspect of the "contest," rendering the "competition" unworthy, and today's Big Blue throttling of the defense-less South Carolina Gamecocks seems to fit the bill perfectly. Offering little resistance to UK's inside tandem of Anthony Davis and Terrence Jones, the Gamecocks were thoroughly dominated by the 'Cats in every statistical category (save 3-point shooting), as UK won its fifteenth straight game, and ninth consecutive SEC contest.
Coach John Calipari said after the game that this Wildcat performance was the best of the season, and quite honestly, I can't muster an argument to counter his claim. From beginning to end, the 'Cats did what they wanted to do offensively, and UK's lane defense was nothing short of spectacular, as they held the Gamecocks to a mere 14 points in the paint.
After the jump, I'll offer some well-deserved individual accolades.
Has there ever been a better freshman don the UK blue than Anthony Davis? The long and lean Davis made nine of his 10 shots (seven dunks), four of his five free throws, grabbed eight boards, and created an immense amount of havoc every time SC ventured into the Wildcat lane. Davis' eight blocks brings his season total to 116, breaking Shaquille O'Neal's SEC freshman block record of 115 set in 1990.
The highest complement one can pay a college player is to exclaim, he just keeps getting better. Davis, he just keeps getting better.
Terrence Jones was an absolute animal in the first half; grabbing rebounds, straight-line driving to the rim, dishing on drives, scoring on drives, drawing fouls on drives. He finished the half with 16 emphatic points, which is what he finished the game with, but, I'm not complaining. I choose to believe Jones instituted his own personal mercy rule, and removed his boot from the Gamecocks' collective neck.
For the game, Jones posted six rebounds, made six of seven free throws, dished out four assists, had one block and two steals in 27 minutes of action.
I'll go ahead and write it; when Davis and Jones play as they did this afternoon, this Kentucky team will be mighty tough to beat, anywhere, and no matter the stakes.
Dropping in 18 points and playing possibly his best overall game since ... well, in quite some time, was Doron Lamb. Perfect from the field until he missed a driving layup which lipped out late in the game, Lamb made 3-of-3 from distance, 3-of-3 from the line, and actually defended the opponent with aggressiveness for most of his 28 minutes.
After getting only six total rebounds from Lamb over the last four games, it's good to see the Big Apple native snare four boards today.
For the fourth straight game Michael Kidd-Gilchrist seemed to be pressing a bit on the offensive end (MKG is 13-35 from the field over the last four contests), but as always, he played with great intensity on the defensive end. Today, MKG totaled seven points and five rebounds, to go along with three assists, but his 2-of-7 shooting from the field highlighted his shortcoming at the moment, which is shot selection, something he'll surely work out as time goes by.
Marquis Teague played a solid game as UK's floor general. Although he scored only four points, when the Wildcat machine is humming along as it was today, scoring is not something the 'Cats need from Teague. Instead, the club needs sound decision-making (only two turnovers in 28 minutes), and solid defense (Teague's SC counterpart, Bruce Ellington, scored only three-points on nine shots). With that being said, we'll give Teague a pass on his zero rebound performance today
Note: Over the last six games Teague has handed out 28 assists and committed 11 turnovers, a strong 2.5-1 assist/turnover ratio.
Flying all over the court today, singing for his supper on the defensive end was Darius Miller. Miller must have defended every player wearing SC white this afternoon, and he defended with gusto, as is his norm. Although he scored only five points on 2-of-5 shooting, Miller had four assists and only one turnover in 20 minutes of play.
Kyle Wiltjer, with 18 minutes and 12 points against SC, played the most minutes and scored his highest point total since a late December game against Loyola, (MD). He looked gawky and awkward early in the game, but seemed to settle down as the contest wore on, nailing two 3-pointers and being aggressive in going after rebounds, something he's displayed the last few games -- Wiltjer finished the day with four boards, which gives him nine rebounds in his last 42 minutes played, covering two games.
Wiltjer's defense? Still a work in progress.
Eloy Vargas drove to the rack from beyond the elbow!! No, really, he did. Twany Beckham played nine minutes registering two boards.
Stat of the day: UK scored 42 points in the paint to only 14 paint points for SC ... Kentucky shot 51.6% from the field for the day, compared to SC's 30.5% accuracy (26.5% in the first half) ... UK made 6-of-14 from long-range (42.9%), compared to Carolina's 9-of-20 three-point shooting ... One caveat: Carolina made 4-of-6 from beyond the arc in the final 10 minutes, looooooong after the game was decided ... UK's free throw defense was in full force today, holding the Gamecocks to only 7-of-15 from the line (46.7%), while the 'Cats made 16-of-21 (76.2%) ... Kentucky recorded 17 assists to only three turnovers ... THREE TURNOVERS (the fewest in any game this year) ... Kentucky had its way with SC on the glass 41-30, as the 'Cats held Carolina to a 31.7 offensive rebound percentage, while the 'Cats snagged 50.0% of their misses.
And finally, a hearty, Big Blue congratulations to former Kentucky football star Dermonti Dawson on his election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Thanks for reading and Go 'Cats!