This is the official Open Game Thread for Kentucky at South Carolina.
In many ways, this is the biggest game of Kentucky's season. I know that sounds like hyperbole, but if the objective is to get an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, this game would seem to be pivotal to that effort. Of course we can never be sure, but with the struggles Kentucky had in the non-conference section of their schedule, it is reasonable to assume that the Cats will need this road win to get the committee to believe that the great effort at Tennessee was not just a fluke.
South Carolina is coming off a win, which to me is preferable to the alternative. They have struggled in the SEC this year, losing a large number of games by a very narrow margin, which makes you believe that they are rather better than their record indicates. Also, they will be bidding farewell to Dave Odom as coach and their seniors tonight, as this is their last home game this year. Emotions will be high, and the Gamecocks will unquestionably come out with lots of passion. Kentucky must handle this surge, and find a way to overcome it.
Derrick Jasper had a bit of a coming out last game, and if we continue to see the kind of play from him we saw against Tennessee, I think the Cats will be in good shape. I have no concerns about Bradley and Crawford, as they seem to bring it every game. Perry Stevenson is also beginning to become a consistent threat to at least get some points, and even Ramon Harris seems to be scoring more regularly. The Cats will need all that and more to replace the production of Patrick Patterson.
Keys to the game:
Ballhandling -- USC is the best in the SEC. If we can cost them a few possessions, it will pay off.
Spread the wealth -- The Cats need everyone to chip in at least some scoring.
Execution -- Kentucky executed very well against Tennessee. If they continue to do that, they will win.
Defend the perimeter -- USC will shoot a lot of 3 balls. We must make them miss.
Rebound -- The Gamecocks don't rebound well, and this small UK lineup will need to dominate them on the glass..
Winning this game would be cause for some celebration, as 11-4 may be enough all by itself to get the Cats in. I am excited to see more of this amazing team leave it all out there, and if they continue to do that after the disappointment in Knoxville, this could be a team for the ages -- not for their record or their skill, but their heart.
Leave your comments below if you have them.