The South Carolina Gamecocks make the trip up to Rupp Arena for the return game against the Kentucky Wildcats today. This will be the first time in two years that South Carolina has made the trip to Lexington, and represents an opportunity for the Wildcats to match their best start ever, 25-0, all the way back in 1953-54.
As this will be our second game with South Carolina, please see our prior game preview for lineups, etc. which have not changed except as noted below.
|When:||Sauturday, Feb. 14th, 2 PM Eastern|
|Where:||Rupp Arena, Lexington|
|Radio:||UK Sports Network|
|Online:||Video via WatchESPN|
|Audio:||Live audio online|
|Rank and Records||USC||UK|
|Strength of Schedule||#36||#18|
|RPI Top 50||3-5||9-0|
What’s changed since last game
The Gamecocks have only managed two wins in the five games since the Wildcats met them in Columbia. They won both their home games against Georgia and their last game vs. Missouri, but lost to LSU, Arkansas and Vanderbilt on the road.
Demitrius Henry and Laimonas Chatkevicius have been in and out of the starting lineup. Michael Carrera has been a starter since the last Kentucky game.
Notable conference stats
The Gamecocks have been shooting better from the arc lately, but they are still last in the SEC in 3-point percentage at 29%
South Carolina leads the league in fouls committed per game.
Turnovers have been the key to success for the Gamecocks of late. When they are at 20%+ turnovers, they have lost. When they have been under that, they have won. Turnovers have had a strong correlation to USC’s OE all year long.
USC is next to last in the conference in 2-point shooting. Overall, they are a very poor shooting team.
The Gamecocks rebound the ball very well on both ends.
- Alex Poythress is out for the season with an ACL injury
- Justin McKie has been out since the UK game in January with an injury. He has been upgraded to probable today.
- Marcus Stroman is doubtful today with some kind of illness.
- Austin Constable has been out all season with a knee injury.
- TeMarcus Blanton has been out all season with a hip injury.
South Carolina is an inefficient offensive team and an average defensive team. They rebound well, but simply don’t do the things needed to win college basketball games against superior opponents. Their upset over Georgia at home was characterized by 18% shooting from 3 from the bulldogs and only 24% shooting from 2-point range. No team is going to win games shooting that poorly.
The main things Kentucky needs to do against USC are to take care of the basketball, attack the rim, and make 65%+ from the line. If they do all those things, and USC does not make 10 or 12 threes, Kentucky should be an easy victor in this contest, and reach a historic milestone in consecutive victories.
Kentucky can lose this game by not respecting their opponent, taking bad shots both inside and outside the arc, turning the ball over a lot and surrendering a lot of offensive rebounds to the Gamecocks. The Gamecocks biggest threat comes from UK turnovers and offensive rebounding, because as inefficient as they are, these are the two things outside of shooting a high effective FG% that they can do to challenge Kentucky. If they don’t do these things, they’ll have to outshoot the Wildcats in their own arena, and that seems very, very unlikely given the history of this USC squad.