This is the official Open Game Thread for South Carolina at Kentucky.
For some reason, South Carolina is a team I always dread playing. They always play us tough, and even though they have only been occasionally successful against Kentucky in the past, they always seem to find ways to stick it to us when we least expect it.
Kentucky, though, has to really avoid a possible letdown against this team. USC just suffered a heartbreaking defeat in Columbia at the hands of Billy Donovan's Gators. Combine that with the recent news that Dave Odom won't be back after this year, and you have all kinds of emotional motivation for the Gamecocks.
But Kentucky has been playing some great basketball lately. We didn't see a letdown after the Vanderbilt game, and they are brimming with newfound confidence after dispatching the highly ranked Tennessee Volunteers last Saturday. Ramel Bradley is playing the best basketball of his career right now, as are Joe Crawford and Perry Stevenson. Unfortunately, it is unknown if Crawford will be able to go today, and if he is able, whether or not he can be effective.
As for Coach Gillispie, his remarks yesterday, other than the injury situation, continue to be encouraging. I have to give some credit where it is due, here. Coach said we would get better, and we have. It has been gradual but noticeable, and lately has really picked up steam. If we see Good Ramel and Good Joe (assuming he is well enough) in this game, it bodes very well for Kentucky. Perry Stevenson is again the x-factor -- if he brings his "A" game as well, the Cats can be as good as anyone in the SEC.
Keys to the game:
Ballhandling -- 12 TO's last game was good. Can we do it again?
Dribble penetration -- Stop it or lose this game. It's really that simple.
Pace -- We need to keep it down. USC is not known for a fast pace, but Dave Odom would be well advised to try to get UK into a running game. He has the players to pull it off, and we don't.
Consistency -- Bradley, Stevenson and Crawford.
Health -- Is Meeks healthy enough now to impact the game? Can he make up for Crawford if he is injured?
We need a streak, and Tennessee needs to be the beginning. A loss at home here will undo all that the UT win did for us. I will be liveblogging this game, and comments can be made either there on in the thread.