The Kentucky Wildcats were blown out by the South Carolina Gamecocks on Tuesday night in Columbia by a score of 79-62.
The Gamecocks got rough with the Cats from the start, and it wasn't pretty. As usual, SEC officials allowed them to muck up the game by simply fouling so much that it’s impossible to call every one.
Regardless, Kentucky was not ready to match the physicality and got off to an extremely slow start as South Carolina took a 33-25 lead into the half.
After the break, Kentucky fell apart. They didn't defend (what’s new?), but what’s worse is they couldn't score. This was just the second time this season that the Cats failed to top the 80-point mark. They were absolutely embarrassed on the road.
Next up, the Cats will travel to Fayetteville to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday night.
Here are three things to know from what was arguably Kentucky’s most concerning performance of the season.
Kentucky has the best offense in the country. They average 91.6 points per game and coming into this game, they have only scored less than 80 points one time this season.
They just dropped 105 points on Georgia this past Saturday after scoring 90 against a top-10 defense in Mississippi State a few days prior. Well, they couldn't keep it going against another top defensive team in South Carolina.
The Cats were discombobulated from the tip. South Carolina’s intensity and physicality made the young Cats crumble. With how bad Kentucky’s defense is, the concern is obviously exacerbated when they’re not scoring, either.
The deep ball wasn't falling. They weren't able to get to the rim like they normally do. They didn't pass the ball. It became a game of one-on-one to see if anyone could just go get a basket since the offense just wasn't working.
Big Z has a long way to go
Zvonimir Ivisic exceeded even the wildest expectations in his long-awaited debut against Georgia on Saturday. He started his career by blocking a shot, throwing a behind-the-back assist, and knocking down his first four shots, including three deep balls.
He finished his first career collegiate contest with 13 points, five rebounds, two assists, three blocks, and three steals in just 16 minutes of play. Overall, he was 5-7 from the field and 3-4 from three. It was nothing short of amazing.
Well, that new shine wore off quickly. Big Z is a very talented and skilled player with a high ceiling, but he’s far from a finished product, and he’s not just going to set the college basketball world on fire. Just as we saw with Aaron Bradshaw, inconsistency is the only thing consistent about most freshman bigs. It is what it is.
The 7-foot-2 Croatian big man was clearly bothered by South Carolina’s rough, physical style of play. He picked up three fouls fairly quickly and never seemed comfortable. As exciting as the debut was, it’s reasonable to expect both ups and downs going forward.
Dillingham did not shy away from the pressure
As bad as Kentucky was offensively, it wasn't all bad. Rob Dillingham showed no signs of being intimidated by the raucous Columbia crowd. He was Kentucky’s best player in this one and by far the most confident.
Dilly certainly has his flaws, but his style of play and confidence put him a step ahead of the rest of his team in this particular game. He was especially efficient in the midrange game. Albeit, Kentucky has seemed to intentionally be getting away from the midrange shot due to efficiency covers, but sometimes, you have to just take what the defense gives you.
Rob’s never-back-down mentality was truly the only real positive to take from this game.
Time to bounce back.