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Cats turn SEC showdown into Columbia Massacre

By LARRY VAUGHT

This was supposed to be the game where South Carolina took control of the Southeastern Conference race and Kentucky’s road woes continued. Or at least that is what ESPN analysts Jay Bilas and Seth Greenberg predicted before the game.

Instead, even without coach John Calipari, Kentucky played its best of the season and dominated the Gamecocks while winning 89-62 Saturday in Columbia, S.C., to move into first place in the SEC. And remember South Carolina beat Texas A&M and LSU in its previous two games.

Guards Tyler Ulis, Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe were all dominant. Ulis and Murray combined for 24 points in the half. For the game Ulis had career-highs of 27 points and 12 assists, including one pass he threw off the backboard to Marcus Lee for a second-half dunk after a Briscoe steal. Murray finished with 26 points and five rebounds and Briscoe had 10 points, five rebounds and three assists.

Lee also gave the Cats a huge boost with 11 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks when he was the only UK big not in foul trouble.

Kentucky was 11 of 25 from 3-point range and 16 of 21 at the foul line. Carolina was only 18 of 55 from the field.

Calipari, who got ejected in the second half of a 2014 loss at South Carolina, lasted just 2 minutes, 26 seconds this time before official Doug Sirmons hit him with two technicals after South Carolina was called for a foul. I’ve never seen Calipari more upset as eventually it took all five starters to keep him away from Sirmons.

With Calipari gone, assistant coach Kenny Payne told ESPN’s Kaylee Hartung that the UK coaches were handling the defense and Ulis was basically the offensive coordinator and taking care of that. Considering UK trailed 8-7 when Calipari got tossed, maybe the UK coach should let Ulis call the offense again.

ESPN analyst Cara Lawson said the loss was “embarrassing” for South Carolina and that the Gamecocks “lost pride” as the margin mounted.

She credited UK’s toughness for the win.

“South Carolina depends on physical play and toughness. Kentucky does not always have that but they played that way today and have more skilled players,” Lawson said during the game.

11 comments

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  1. Andy

    What a road win and a good beatdown can only do confidence for this team. I think Cal needs to let Tyler run the offense so he can focus on defense. Tyler is just awesome and ridiculous.

  2. UKMANAGER

    Doug Sirmons is a disgrace to officials he needs to be censured.looked like he cursed Cal..USC a paper rooster..embarrassment and UK punished them.

  3. Mike

    What a great, great game…probably our best performance of the year. I actually think that Frank Martin seemed to enjoy the clinic UK was performing on their court. Tyler Ullis is very possibly my most favorite UK player of all time. I am glad the game wasn’t close because Briscoe might have lost it if it was. He was out of control with his ball handling and 5 turnovers. And Skal….what can you say? He is still a disaster with the ball handling at the rim, rebounding, and foul proneness. It is still hard to believe that coaching staff can’t teach this team to defend without fouling in the paint.

  4. Claude Hoffmeyer

    I agree with UKMANAGER, Doug Sirmons should get the Doug Show Award for this year,
    awarded to the Referee who is prejudiced against UK BB. I was worried that a UK BB Player would get an injury.

    1. KingGhidora

      It wasn’t just Sirmons. Greene was almost as bad. if you still have the game on DVR watch the off the backboard pass from Ulis to Lee and the slam. Then watch what number 24 for USC does to Lee after the play. He hits him hard enough to knock him back and he nearly rams Greene. But no call. What a joke. I know the Cats had a blowout win. They did it in spite of the guys in stripes. It should be pointed out that Sirmons called that Kansas debacle where Kansas got more free throws than anyone ever has had in Rupp. That’s a whole bunch of games. UK lost every player over 6’5″ in that game. If there’s any doubt why they lost that OT game just read the box score. And if UK ever consents to let Sirmons call another game Cal should get himself ejected again just to make a point.

  5. Doug Ridley

    Somebody said “Go Cats”– Cats went!

  6. Larry Pup

    UK came to play today. That was a clinic on both offense, and especially on defense. Cal staged the outbursts, I do believe, and it worked. It was great UK basketball in a hostile road game that many said they would not win. UK is coming around at the right time, with many stars starting to pickup their games. I agree with you Mike about Ulis. He is remarkable. He is the best I have ever seen and there have been some good ones. He is a great floor general. Marcus Lee was a force today inside. Murray? what can you say but WOW!!! Willis played great and hit some huge shots.

  7. KingGhidora

    The team is not only playing better but they now have more players who are making a contribution. This is the team I expected to see early this season only I expected Skal to be better (like everyone because I read it in the media so often). Skal has improved like every UK player. Some have improved to the point of being absolutely great. Who can doubt that Ulis is among the best in the nation. The guy is a magician with the ball. His instincts and ball control are extraordinary. Murry is learning to take what comes to him. Willis has stepped up to play great on both ends of the floor especially as a rebounder. The defense is incredible. Teams can’t get the ball past the 3 line and when they do they are swarmed with defenders. It’s like UK is playing 2 extra guys on defense. They are very good.

    This team absolutely could win it all. I haven’t seen any teams better than they are. They were robbed in Allen Fieldhouse or they would have won where nobody wins. There’s a reason for that BTW. Read the box score. You’ll see what that reason is.

    So much for wait until next year like we were starting to think 3 weeks ago. This team is for real. People were wondering if they would even make the tournament. No one thinks that now.

    1. Grant

      I admit I never saw this coming

  8. Norman Einstein

    Great win. And Ulis is something else.

  9. Grant

    UK kicked the refs ass, I mean South Carolinas. I cannot believe what I saw today in terms of calling b.s. fouls. If they called it fair , Carrera would have fouled out in the first half. I am just disgusted by the officials that called this game. Yes , great win, I feel bad in not enjoying the win more, but I can’t get over the calling of the game.

    Lots of highlights today for sure, if those 3 disgraces weren’t there UK would have won by 40. Nice Nice win UK good Job. Beautiful.

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