Despite some promising moments, the Kentucky Wildcats suffered a painful loss to the south Carolina Gamecocks.
The Cats were in complete control into the second half, but despite leading by double-digits, South Carolina stormed back to take a 76-68 win in Columbia. This game was ugly from the start, as there were more free throws tonight than any other SEC game this season.
Here are four things to know:
Jarred Vanderbilt played(!!!)
The long wait is over. Vanderbilt is finally playing. It certainly wasn’t perfect — he looked a little awkward at first — but getting him on the floor was huge for a wounded Kentucky team, and he found his way out there pretty quickly. He had six points, five rebounds and three assists, showing some good court vision. The sooner they can get him in rhythm this year, the better.
First basket as a Kentucky Wildcat for Jarred Vanderbilt. pic.twitter.com/ghOn8QWL7X— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) January 17, 2018
That might have been the ugliest first half ever
South Carolina went without a field goal for over 10 minutes in the first half. During that time they missed 15 straight shots, and finished the half 10-of-30 from the field. And yet, thanks to Kentucky committing 15 fouls and 11 turnovers (though South Carolina committed 16 fouls and seven turnovers), the Gamecocks went into the half down just three points, 37-34. It didn’t help that Kentucky was 0-of-4 from 3-point range in the first half.
Oh, and that 20 minutes of action lasted over an hour.
...And the second half was just as bad
The referees completely dictated the game. Both South Carolina and Kentucky eclipsed 30 free throws, and both teams shot less than 70 percent from the free throw line. Kentucky shot just 10 percent from deep and committed 16 turnovers. South Carolina wasn’t much better, shooting just 22 percent from 3-point range. Everything about this game was terrible, and for Kentucky the worst part about it was an 11-0 run that put South Carolina right back in the game after the Wildcats previously held a double-digit advantage.
An off night for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Alexander has been one of Kentucky’s most dependable player, guiding them through some growing pains. But tonight he was off, shooting just 3-of-9 from the field for six points, and committing a team-high six turnovers. He also had four fouls.
But to be fair, he wasn’t the only Wildcat off his game (and he certainly wasn’t the only one picking up a lot of fouls).
Here is the postgame box score:
Now, if you’re up for it, let’s talk about what just transpired.