Calipari respects how hard South Carolina coach Frank Martin is on his players

Wenyen Gabriel (Keith Taylor/Kentucky Forward)


While senior Sindarius Thornwell was suspended, South Carolina lost three games. South Carolina is 5-0 since Sindarius Thornwell returned from suspension and is 11-0 on the season with him in the lineup.

“He’s like one of those guys that can score baskets. He can rebound. They play him at the four at times when they go small. Now they have four guards and he’s a pick-and-pop guy or they just run their action,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said Friday.

“They’ll give him the ball and just say drive it. When he’s going against fours, he’s like a two or three with size. He’s really good and he’s tough. He’s physical. This is another team that will be scrappy. Auburn played that way. Mississippi State played that way. They’re going to come to play and they’re not backing down. They’re coming in with an expectation, and it’s going to be a hard game for us.”

Kentucky and South Carolina, both unbeaten in SEC, play tonight in Rupp Arena.

Kentucky has the second highest scoring offense in the country at 93.3 points per game. South Carolina is one of the nation’s best defensive teams and held Florida without a 3-point goal in Tuesday’s win.

“The one thing they’re going to do is get offensive rebounds. We’ve had teams not send anybody to the glass. Again, what he’s (South Carolina head coach Frank Martin) been able to do down there to build it year to year. To lose their whole front line. They lost good players and they came back to be able to do what they’re doing – being undefeated in our league and win games on the road like at Georgia, which is just am impossible place to try to win a game. They led from start to finish,” Calipari said.

“Rebounding? They do it. Giving you a tough shot? They do it. They have full rotations as well. They’ll bring four guys to the ball. If you drive, they’re bringing three to four guys at you. I have to give them credit. I’ve always liked Frank. He knows that, and I’ve always respected him as a coach. I know how he doesn’t baby kids. He’s coaching them. You watch him.

“I need our fans to watch him closely because he’s harder on his guys than I am on our guys. You guys think I’m hard. But I respect that. That means he has a great relationship with the guys.”

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