Well, so much for a real test for Kentucky.
The South Carolina Gamecocks held the Wildcats close early on, but the Wildcats proved to be way too much for USC. Derek Willis stepped up to shoulder some of the load in De’Aaron Fox’s absence, Malik Monk did normal Malik Monk things, and Kentucky dominated late, despite Sindarius Thornwell’s amazing scoring performance for the Gamecocks.
De’Aaron Fox’s injury could really hurt Kentucky
We don’t yet know the extent of Fox’s injury, but he rolled his ankle driving the lane and did not return. He was also seen on the sideline with a walking boot and crutches, which could mean that it’s worse than a simple ankle roll.
De'Aaron Fox questionable to return after rolling his ankle on this play. #BBN pic.twitter.com/tf0PyvS40V— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) January 21, 2017
Tonight was especially bad for this injury, as Mychal Mulder was out with an illness, so the guard position was especially thin. Even when Mulder is available, Fox is a necessity for the ‘Cats to be at their best.
Hopefully Fox will be day-to-day, and not out for an extended period of time. Fox still contributed despite only playing eight minutes, scoring 6 points on 3-3 shooting.
Derek Willis brought the house down
I generally don’t think of Willis being a highlight-reel guy, but he put himself on the highlight reel with this huge slam tonight.
More looks of Derek Willis taking this young man's life, soul and all his worldly possessions. #BBN pic.twitter.com/CdxJFA3RpY— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) January 22, 2017
That poor, poor defender. The reaction from the bench is priceless too. And Rupp Arena finally got really loud when it happened. Willis had a great game overall as well. He scored 12 points on 50% shooting, and had 7 rebounds and 1 block. The contribution from Willis off the bench was much-needed in Fox’s absence.
South Carolina needs a few more Sindarius Thornwells on the roster
Sindarius Thornwell was a man among boys tonight, and he did everything for South Carolina. With three minutes left in the second half, Thornwell had half of his team’s 62 points (31). He ended with 34 points, 14 of them coming from the free throw line, and 6 rebounds. It’s a shame for Thornwell that his epic scoring performance came in a 16-point loss.