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Postgame notes from Kentucky’s 81-78 loss to South Carolina

How did Kentucky’s disappointing 81-78 loss to South Carolina come to fruition?

Here are the latest game notes, courtesy of UK Athletics:

Team Records and Series Notes

  • Kentucky fell to 12-4 and is 3-1 in Southeastern Conference play.
    • The loss snapped the Wildcats’ four-game winning streak.
  • South Carolina improved to 9-7 and 1-2 in the SEC.
  • UK still leads the series 52-13 but the Gamecocks have won two straight and three of the last five over the Wildcats in Columbia, South Carolina.
    • UK leads 20-9 in games played in Columbia.
  • Next up: After a couple days back in Lexington for classes, Kentucky is back on the road for a Saturday matchup with Arkansas. The Wildcats will play the Razorbacks on Saturday at 4 p.m. on ESPN.

Player Notes 

  • Immanuel Quickley continued to make a strong case for the conference’s Sixth Man of the Year award. He came off the bench for a team-high 20 points, igniting key rallies in both halves with his scoring, defense and distribution.
    • He’s averaging a team-best 19.0 points with 16 3-pointers over the last five games.
    • With two more 3-pointers Wednesday, he’s made 10 of his last 13 over the last three games and 16 of 27 over the last five games.
    • He scored the Wildcats’ final seven points, including a game-tying jumper with seconds left, to rally Kentucky form a late-six-point hole.
  • With 15 points, Nick Richards scored in double figures for the 12th time this season. UK suffered its first loss this season when he reaches double figures.
    • He recorded nine points, four rebounds and a block in the opening eight minutes before sitting the rest of the half with two fouls.
  • Ashton Hagans extended his five-or-more-assists streak to 13 straight games (seven total Wednesday), the best streak since Tyler Ulis did it 24 straight games in 2015-16.
    • He also scored 13 points.
  • Tyrese Maxey was the fourth Wildcat in double figures with 13 points. He made 5 of 7 from the floor and 2 of 2 from 3-point range.
    • He’s scored in double figures in six of the last seven games.
  • Johnny Juzang made his first appearance after missing the last three games (two due to illness, one to a coach’s decision).
    • He made a key basket – his first since the Ohio State game on Dec. 21 – when South Carolina had closed its second-half deficit to 54-50.

Coach John Calipari

  • Calipari is now 317-75 at UK.
  • He has a 762-215 all-time on-court record.
  • UK is 256-43 vs. unranked competition under Calipari.
  • He is 14-4 all-time vs. South Carolina.
  • The Wildcats are 139-39 vs. SEC competition in regular-season play under Calipari. He’s 347-105 all-time in regular-season conference games.

Team Notes

  • Despite a red-shot second half from South Carolina (20 of 36 field goals), Kentucky still held the the Gamecocks to 39.7% shooting.
    • UK fell 195-18 in the Calipari era and 8-2 this season when keeping the opponent to less than 40%.
  • UK shot 43.6% from the field and dropped to 11-1 this season when outshooting the opponent.
  • Kentucky led by as many as 14 points but lost for the first time this season when leading by double digits. UK is now 272-7 under Calipari when leading by at least 10 points at any time in the contest.
  • Offensive rebounds loomed large in this one. The Wildcats gave up 20 offensive boards to South Carolina. Coupled with 15 turnovers, the Gamecocks took 18 more shots than UK.
    • It’s the second straight game Kentucky has given up 15 or more offensive rebounds and the third time in the last five games (vs. Louisville). Kentucky hadn’t given up more than 14 offensive rebounds in any game prior to this recent five-game stretch.
    • The offensive rebound woes have resulted in four of the last five opponents taking at least 10 or more field-goal attempts than the Wildcats in four of the last five games.
    • South Carolina’s offensive boards led to 16 second-chance points for the Gamecocks.
  • South Carolina also outscored UK 19-9 in points off turnovers.

In the First Half

  • The starting lineup consisted of Ashton Hagans, Tyrese Maxey, Keion Brooks Jr., EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards for the fifth game in a row, UK’s most-used lineup of the season. The Wildcats are 4-1 with the lineup.
    • Kahlil Whitney was the first sub at the 17:19 mark.
  • Richards got the scoring started with a dunk on a lob from Hagans. It’s the fourth time in 16 games this season Richards has started the game with a dunk or layup.
  • UK got off to a strong defensive start. The Wildcats held South Carolina without a point until a free throw at the 15:26 mark en route to an 8-0 lead. South Carolina’s first field goal – after 10 straight misses – was at the 13:27 mark, a follow-up dunk.
    • Brooks had three rebounds in less than three minutes along with a block, and Richards added a swat as well.
  • Richards was dominant early with nine points and four rebounds but picked up his second foul at the 10:28 mark and had to head to the bench.
  • Richards handed off the torch to Immanuel Quickley, who promptly sunk two 3-pointers to continue his recent hot streak.
    • Coming into the game he had made eight of his last nine. With his first two makes, he extended that run to 10 of 11. He would later miss two in the second half.
  • Whitney’s driving layup as he was fouled put Kentucky up 29-18 at the 3:47 mark.
    • It was Whitney’s first field goal and points since the Ohio State game on Dec. 21.
  • South Carolina surged back into the game with a 7-1 run, forcing Calipari to burn a timeout.
    • Hagans stopped the rally with an old-fashioned 3-point play.
  • Kentucky led 33-25 at halftime thanks to another splendid defensive performance. The Wildcats held South Carolina to 24.3% from the floor.
    • UK fell to 11-1 this season when leading at halftime.

In the Second Half

  • Kentucky began the second half with the same starting five: Hagans, Maxey, Brooks, Montgomery and Richards.
  • Up 33-28, Kentucky went on an 8-0 run. Quickley came up big again with a key steal, a long jumper and an assist to Nate Sestina for a 3-pointer to take a 41-28 lead at the 17:28 mark.
  • UK led by as many as 14 points in the second half (16:34 mark) but South Carolina cut the double-digit lead to 54-50 at the 10:35 mark with a 9-0 run. Johnny Juzang ended the stretch with a put-back, his first field goal since the Ohio State game on Dec. 21.
  • UK surged back in front 58-50 but South Carolina closed the deficit to 62-61 on a dunk from Keyshawn Bryant with 6:08 left. From there the teams would trade blows for much of the remainder of the game.
  • Maxey followed with 3-pointers on back-to-back UK possessions, but South Carolina went on fire offensively, scoring on an old-fashioned 3-point play, a 3-pointer and a jumper to eventually tie the game at 68-68.
  • Hagans hit two free throws to retake the lead, but Justin Minaya hit a 3-pointer to give South Carolina a 71-70 lead.
  • A 7-1 South Carolina run put the home team up 77-71 with just over a minute to go but the Wildcats – particularly Quickley – would not give in. Quickly scored UK’s final seven points in the final 53 seconds, including a magnificent step-back jumper with five seconds left in the game to tie it at 78-78.
  • On the ensuing possession, South Carolina’s Jermaine Couisinard, who scored a game-high 26 points, drove past half court and heaved up a shot from behind the 3-point line, banking it in for an 81-78 win.

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

1 Comment for Postgame notes from Kentucky’s 81-78 loss to South Carolina



  1. CrystalBall
    4:47 pm January 16, 2020 Permalink

    Don’t often disagree with Cal’s coaching philosophy but not calling a time out after Quickley’s shot was a huge mistake. Need to attempt to prevent the opponent from putting the ball in play, or make them use up the 4 seconds before advancing the ball to
    half court.