The Cats got off to a slow start, and it didn't get much better. They fell behind early 13-2, which increased to 21-6 in short order. Despite getting hot towards the end of the first half, Kentucky was still down 42-32 at the break.
After halftime, it didn't get much prettier. The Gamecocks controlled the game from start to finish. There’s really not much else to say besides Kentucky was just beat by one of the worst teams in the SEC at home and never really looked like they had a chance.
Next up, the Cats will travel to Knoxville to take on the Tennessee Volunteers Saturday afternoon in what doesn’t look like as fun a matchup as it did at the start of this season. Cover your eyes, folks.
As has been the case this season, Kentucky continues to deal with injury issues as one player gets healthy, another goes down. In this one, Jacob Toppin missed the game due to a shoulder injury suffered against the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday. Daimion Collins started in Toppin’s place.
Making matters worse, Cason Wallace got hurt and played just eight minutes due to a back injury, so he could be set to miss time.
On the positive side of things, which is hard to come by at the moment, CJ Fredrick returned after missing three games due to a dislocated finger on his shooting hand. The better news is Fredrick played excellent. He gave the Cats life and looked fired up all game long as Kentucky fought to come back in this one.
Defense and rebounding were abysmal
I’m not sure what was worse—the defense or the rebounding. Hell, the offense actually wasn't bad, but Kentucky’s inability to rebound and play defense made this game impossible to win.
Rebounding hasn't been a big issue this season, but the Cats were dominated on the glass as it seemed like every time the Cocks missed a shot (which wasn't often), they got an offensive board.
The defense was even worse as South Carolina, one of the worst, if not the worst, teams in the SEC, simply scored at will. As mentioned above, Kentucky scored efficiently and they didn't have many turnovers, but they barely shot the ball from deep and couldn't guard a rock.
It's time to seriously consider whether or not this team will, or even can, make the NCAA Tournament at this point. Kentucky not only has failed to log anything close to a quality win, but they’ve been blown out by every “good” team they’ve played, and now this?
If the Cats fail to make the NCAA Tournament, it’ll have been twice in the last two years, while the one in between included a loss to 15-seed St. Peter’s, and three times in Calipari’s tenure. That’s simply unacceptable.
This is what it has to come to.
UK fan just got thrown of the arena for having this sign pic.twitter.com/PcdBe0jxUM— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) January 11, 2023
And I'm not sure when or if it will get better.