- Wednesday, February 25 2009 -
Kentucky - 59 (Head Coach: Billy Gillispie) - [Unranked]
|A. J. Stewart||3||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0|
South Carolina - 77 (Head Coach: Darrin Horn) - [Unranked]
Halftime Score: South Carolina 46, Kentucky 28
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Tennessee 77 - 58|||||Louisiana State 70 - 73|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
Gamecocks set swat record in rout of Cats
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Patrick Patterson threw down a vicious dunk late in what was arguably the most meaningful game of Kentucky's season to date, drawing a rousing ovation from the Colonial Life Arena crowd.
It was mock applause.
South Carolina bullied and battered Kentucky 77-59 before a rollicking home contingent, claiming sole possession of first place in a tight SEC East race. The Gamecocks previously unheralded frontcourt rejected 16 shots on the evening, soaring and spiking the Cats' soft-serve attempts all over the Palmetto State.
Patterson, who still managed 28 points and 12 rebounds but was just 10-of-24 from the field, was no match for the Gamecocks' longer, more athletic leapers. When the block party ended the Cats' normally dominant post presence saw nine of this shots returned to sender, most notably by Sam Muldrow and Dominique Archie.
"It was really frustrating," Patterson said. "They were able to block a lot of my shots but I didn't fade away or shy away. A couple of times I probably should have pump faked but Coach told me to keep taking the ball at them."
It was a shockingly poor performance by a team playing for a division championship and possibly its NCAA Tournament hopes as well. UK coach Billy Gillispie benched Perry Stevenson for the entire second half and sat star guard Jodie Meeks down for nearly eight minutes after he was beaten backdoor on an inbound play.
Afterward the second-year coach said Meeks wasn't alone in his indifference to defense before taking Stevenson to task for the second time in the past three games.
"He's just not playing hard enough," Gillispie said. "That's two times in the last, what, week or eight days that I've said something about a guy not playing hard enough and that's the first two times in my career I've ever said that. That's shameful, in my opinion, to everyone involved."
The argument could be made Stevenson had company in that department. Gillispie told a post game radio audience we was 'sick and tired' of the Cats' other interior players not giving Patterson any back up in the post and lauded his star sophomore for playing through what in many ways was the most humbling night of his young career.
"To have absolutely zero help it was one of the most courageous efforts I've ever seen and that's the kind of person and player he is," Gillispie said. "He was getting his shot blocked quite a few times but he never backed down and he never quit posting and he never ran from it. He never gave anything but one of the best performances I've ever seen as far as just courage, toughness, determination and willingness to try and help your team win."
Patterson was so thoroughly frustrated with the proceedings he was nearly slapped with a technical foul after scoring and getting fouled on a putback attempt with three minutes left in the blowout. Sensing how Patterson must have been feeling it was South Carolina's Devan Downey who put a hand on the referee's shoulder and convinced him not to 'T' up the big man.
It was the only time South Carolina showed any mercy the entire evening.
The Gamecocks' strength was supposed to be how efficient their backcourt was on the offensive end of the floor but it was a ball-hawking, shot-swatting interior defense that ran circles around UK. That's not to say Downey, who followed up his game-winner in the first meeting with 21 points, five assists and five steals, didn't do his part either.
"He was pretty much the x-factor," Patterson said of the splendid point guard. "He does so much for that team and when the ball is in his hands the magic happens."
"You saw one (team) with one and you saw one (team) without one," Gillispie added when asked about the point guard slot.
The same might be said about a division title and postseason aspirations after this one.
South Carolina's Dominique Archie shoots as Darius Miller (#1) and Michael Porter (behind) defend