By LARRY VAUGHT
Early in the second half Kentucky was needing a lift against South Carolina — and Derek Willis provided it with a monster dunk over a South Carolina defender.
Willis, never one to show an abundance of emotion on the court, roared after he came down. So did teammates on the bench while Rupp Arena fans went berserk.
“How about Derek’s dunk? I mean, that was crazy,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said after the 85-69 win.
Willis had 12 points and seven rebounds, but it was that dunk that stood out.
“I feel like that definitely sparked us up. I’ve never seen Derek dunk on anybody like that before. All our teammates were pretty much excited and surprised that he did it,” senior Dominique Hawkins said. “It’s great to see Derek play so well. He’s been here for four years just like me and I’m proud of him.”
Willis admitted it was just a unique situation that got him to scream like he did after the dunk.
“I haven’t really posterized someone I don’t think probably since last year. It’s been a while. It just kind of got me going. I feel like it got the energy of Rupp Arena all there. Woke the game up. I was excited for sure,” he said.
He said his cell phone was “buzzing and vibrating” with messages after the game and that he planned to check all the messages.
”It was one of those games where I went with the flow of things. The energy kept us up. That’s one of those teams that wear you down. They’re very physical, they play hard and they get into you. They played a great game.”