By Tony Acree The 5th ranked Kentucky Wildcats, with the 2nd ranked offense in the country (according to KenPom) took on the 24th ranked South Carolina Gamecocks and their number 1 defense in a showdown of unbeatens at Rupp Arena in Lexington, and offense triumphed as the Cats won 85-69. Southeastern Conference top scorer Malik Monk tossed in 27 and Bam Adebayo 18 to lead the Wildcats. Wenyen Gabriel continued his excellent play with 11 points and 5 rebounds and Derek Willis collected 12 points and 7 rebounds. The Cats shot 58% from the field, doing so for the 7th game in a row, the most since the 84-85 season. For the first time this year sophomore guard Isiah Briscoe failed to score and committed 7 turnovers.
The biggest news from a UK perspective, besides the win, is the ankle injury suffered by the Wildcats outstanding point guard, freshman De’Aaron Fox who turned an ankle and left the game with just under 12 minutes to go in the first half. His status is day to day. UK coach John Calipari said after the game, “I think it might’ve been a stinger, I don’t know. But something hit his ankle. He is in a boot but they said there is no swelling, so I don’t know.” Senior guard Dominique Hawkins took over the point guard duties following Briscoe’s struggles and had one of his best games of the season with 5 points, 7 assists and only 2 turnovers.
The Gamecocks were led in scoring by Sindarius Thornwell who tossed in 34 points. The rest of the team combined only scored 36, with only Temarcus Blanton joining Thornwell in double-figures with 12. Frank Martin’s squad was missing guard P.J. Dozier due to back spasms and the Wildcats were without Mychal Mulder due to an illness.
Next up for Kentucky will be the Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville, Tennessee on Tuesday night.