Last night, the Kentucky Wildcats defeated No. 24 South Carolina 85-69, successfully claiming their rightful place as number one in the SEC. The victory came in front of a season-high 24,389 fans. There will be plenty of coverage as the day goes on, but for now, here are 10 things to read while you wake up this morning.
1. Kentucky survived without Fox, Briscoe
Two of UK’s most consistent scorers both contributed far less than normal, combining for just six points. All six came from Fox during his eight minutes of action, meaning Briscoe ended the night with a goose egg next to his name. On the season, these two guards have been averaging a combined 21.9 points per game.
While Fox went out with what is (hopefully) a minor injury, Briscoe just had a bad night. Sometimes shooters struggle, and shots simply don’t fall. But what’s arguably worse than scoring zero points? Briscoe’s poor performance was not limited to scoring. In 29 minutes, he had seven turnovers, just four assists, and only three rebounds. All inexcusable from the sophomore.
“Malik [later clarified to mean Isaiah Briscoe] has had back-to-back, you know, kind of bust kind of games,” Calipari said after the game. “I mean, he’s better than this.”
On the bright side, let’s not forget Malik Monk had another monster night, scoring 27 points. Bam Adebayo also contributed 18 points, while Wenyen Gabriel added 11.
2. Back to Fox’s injury…
As of last night, we didn’t know much about the extent of De’Aaron Fox’s ankle injury. After the game, Coach Cal didn’t have a lot of answers either, saying “I don’t know” quite a bit, while adding “they said there’s no swelling.” While no swelling is a good sign, the BBN will likely be holding their breath until there’s a statement released that officially clears Fox. We’ll keep you updated.
3. Seniors, Kentucky-natives, stepped up
With one key player out and another one struggling, more pressure fell on Kentucky’s bench. Thankfully, Dominique Hawkins and Derek Willis were both up to the task. Willis contributed 12 points and seven rebounds, while Hawkins added five points and seven assists. Although these are decent numbers, they become more impressive when you consider the timing of the plays. Hawkins played as the point guard, coming to the rescue for injured Fox and struggling Briscoe. His cool nature and senior experience calmed the Wildcats whose rhythm was disturbed by the line-up changes. Willis only hit one three-point basket last night, but the shot came after USC had cut the lead to three. And that dunk…
4. RIP Sedee Keita
AKA the South Carolina player murdered last night when Willis ruthlessly dunked all over him. I’m sure you’ve seen the video like, a million times. But would it really hurt to watch it again?
Nice dunk from Derek Willis but peep the reaction on the Kentucky bench…
“No f*cking way”
– Def Pen Sports (@DefPenSports) January 22, 2017
I’ll let you make your own assumptions about SKJ’s reaction.
5. The number of fouls was… better
Last night, 42 fouls were called. Compared to the 52 fouls called during the Mississippi State game, 42 seems far more reasonable, and is slightly more on-par with other games (in other conferences) from last night. In the UofL vs. FSU game, 45 fouls were called; in the No. 14 Arizona vs No. 3 UCLA upset, 35 fouls were called. In No.1 Villanova’s game against Providence, 28 fouls were called. Use that information as you will…
6. Kirstin Maldonado crushed the national anthem
The Grammy Award-winning singer started the night off on a great foot when she performed the national anthem. The Texas native is the lead vocalist for the a cappella group Pentatonix, who won the third season of The Sing Off. If you missed it (or even if you didn’t), take a look here, courtesy of Kentucky Wildcats TV.
– KYwildcatsTV (@KYwildcatsTV) January 21, 2017
7. Speaking of entertainment…
In my personal opinion, there is no other halftime performance at Rupp more enjoyable than the Firecrackers’ annual showcase. While I’m far from a jump-roping expert, their performances are consistently flawless, and last night’s was no exception. Seriously, I don’t understand how they do what they do. Also, special shoutout to the girl wearing a boot on her ankle and still jumping rope. That takes talent.
8. UK Hoops back in action
The Lady Wildcats will be facing off against the Auburn Tigers today at 3 p.m. Kentucky, 4-2 in the SEC, looks to continue their three-game winning streak against the unranked Tigers (4-2). Most recently, UK defeated LSU 55-42 in Baton Rouge. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network, so be sure to tune in.
9. Deal of a lifetime
Since you’ll already be heading to Raising Cane’s today for your Buy One, Get One free chicken combo, be sure to take part in their latest giveaway.
10. Conference Championships are TONIGHT
Tune into Fox at 3:05 to watch Randall Cobb and the Green Bay Packers take on the Atlanta Falcons. The Steelers vs. the Patriots are set to kick off at 6:40 on CBS. Who ya got?