Kentucky will do battle in South Carolina tonight against a Gamecock team coming off a huge win on the road at Georgia. Frank Martin’s team is now 2-3 in SEC play and 11-6 overall, and looking to grab a second straight resume-building win tonight against your University of Kentucky Wildcats.
But before the ball is tipped in the electric Colonial Life Arena, you need to know these 10 things about the Gamecocks…
1. South Carolina has only lost once at home.
Missouri is the only team to take down the Gamecocks on their own court this season. The other losses came at Alabama, Ole Miss and Clemson, and on a neutral site to Illinois State and Temple.
2. South Carolina is undefeated when it scores 70 or more points.
A perfect 10-0 this year when hitting the 70-point mark.
3. The Gamecocks are ranked second in the SEC in scoring defense.
South Carolina’s strength is its defense, which ranks second in the SEC and 33rd nationally, as opponents average just 65.1 points per game. Nine opponents have been held below 65 points so far this season, including Georgia this past Saturday.
4. Chris Silva is the team’s leading scorer.
South Carolina’s best weapon is its sophomore forward, Chris Silva, who is averaging 14.2 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. His numbers are even better when limited to SEC play as he has scored an average of 17.8 points in the five league games. Contain him and Kentucky will likely escape with a victory.
5. Chris Silva takes a lot of trips to the line.
Many of Silva’s team-leading points come from the charity stripe. He goes to the line over 10 times per game and ranks eighth nationally in free throw attempts.
He is hitting over 75 percent of those attempts this season.
6. They’re going to try to “rough it up.”
Kentucky’s toughness will be challenged tonight. “They’re really physical. They’re going to try to rough us up,” UK assistant coach Kenny Payne said yesterday. “First of all on rebounding, who’s hitting who first? Are they hitting you? Are they attacking you? Are they pushing you under the basket? Well, if that’s happening then they’re going to get offensive rebounds. Second thing is defensively, they’re going to try to take you out of offense. They’re going to try to rough you up off screens. They’re going to try to get up inside of you when you’re handling the ball. They’re going to deny passes. They’re going to play physical.”
Payne noted this could be a tough game for Kevin Knox because he tends to shy away from contact.
7. Louisville’s $100K recruit is on the team.
— Gamecock MBB (@GamecockMBB) January 10, 2018
I wonder if he’ll be on the bench tonight.
8. Frank Martin thinks Kentucky is missing veteran leadership, which is true.
During his Monday press conference, Frank Martin said Kentucky has “go-to guys,” but lacks upperclassmen. He named Isaiah Briscoe and Tyler Ulis as two leaders from Kentucky’s past. He also mentioned “that one guy who got all the offensive rebounds and transferred to Washington,” referring to Marcus Lee, who transferred to California. Same thing.
9. South Carolina has only beaten Kentucky twice during the John Calipari era.
The first one came after the undefeated 2009-10 team took a call from the president prior to the game. (Thanks a lot, Obama.)
Kentucky lost again at South Carolina in 2013-14.
10. Ken Pom predicts the Gamecocks will lose a close one.
It’ll be a 71-68 victory for the Cats, according to Ken Pom’s magical sabermetrics machine. If that prediction holds true, we’ll be more than happy with the outcome.