LEXINGTON, Ky. — Isaiah Briscoe and Malik Monk were both objectively bad against Mississippi State on Tuesday night, making just 9 of 28 shots and committing 7 turnovers between them. So what did the two Kentucky basketball stars do about it?
Thursday night, after a team picture, film session, two-hour practice and another film session, coach John Calipari headed up to his office and looked out the window onto the court below. There were Briscoe and Monk having a “full-body workout, totally soaked, going again.”
“I’m proud of that. That makes me feel good, because they have to master their craft,” Calipari said. “They have to be responsible for their own performance and not blame. If you blame, you’re not getting any better. If you take responsibility, you’ll get better. You’ll figure it out.”
The fifth-ranked Wildcats hope that happens in time for Saturday night’s game against 24th-ranked South Carolina. The Gamecocks come to town with a suffocating defense, trying to stop Kentucky’s turbo-charged offense.
The Wildcats lead the all-time series 50-11, including 26-2 at home, which doesn’t bode well for the visitors. Nor does South Carolina coach Frank Martin’s 1-5 record against UK. One might also interpret Briscoe and Monk spending extra time getting ready for this game as additional bad news for the Gamecocks.
Kentucky basketball vs. South Carolina game time, details
Date: Saturday, Jan. 21
Time: 6 p.m. ET
Location: Rupp Arena (23,000), Lexington, Ky.
Vegas Line: Kentucky by 13
What TV channel is Kentucky basketball vs. South Carolina on?
The game will be broadcast on ESPN (DirecTV channel 206, DISH channel 140, Time Warner channel 27/753 HD).
How can I watch Kentucky basketball vs. South Carolina online?
Who is calling the Kentucky basketball game vs. South Carolina?
Play-by-play by Tom Hart, analysis by Kara Lawson, sideline reporting by Kaylee Hartung.
How can I listen to Kentucky basketball vs. Mississippi State?
Play-by-play by Tom Leach, analysis by Mike Pratt on Sirius 83, XM 190 and AM-630 (in Lexington).
No. 5 Kentucky (16-2, 6-0 SEC)
G-De’Aaron Fox (6-3, Fr.): 16.7 ppg, 6.3 apg, 5.0 rpg
G-Malik Monk (6-3, Fr.): 21.4 ppg, 2.3 apg, 2.3 rpg
G-Isaiah Briscoe (6-3, So.): 15.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 4.2 apg
F-Wenyen Gabriel (6-9, Fr.): 5.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.2 bpg
F-Bam Adebayo (6-10, Fr.): 12.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.8 bpg
TOP RESERVES – F Derek Willis, 6-9, Sr., 7.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg; C Isaac Humphries, 7-0, So., 3.7 ppg, 3.9 rpg; G Mychal Mulder, 6-4, Sr., 6.5 ppg, 1.9 rpg; G Dominique Hawkins, 6-0, Sr., 3.1 ppg, 2.0 rpg.
No. 24 South Carolina (15-3, 5-0 SEC)
G-Duane Notice (6-2, Sr.): 9.4 ppg, 2.3 apg, 2.2 rpg
G-Sindarius Thornwell (6-5, Sr.): 18.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 3.3 apg
G-PJ Dozier (6-6, So.): 14.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.9 apg
F-Chris Silva (6-9, So.): 9.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.9 bpg
F-Malik Kotsar (6-10, Fr.): 7.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 0.6 apg
TOP RESERVES – G Rakym Felder, 5-10, Fr., 6.2 ppg, 1.6 apg; G Hassani Gravett, 6-1, So., 4.4 ppg, 1.8 apg; G Justin McKie, 6-4, Sr., 4.9 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.4 apg.
* Strength vs. strength: Kentucky ranks second nationally in offensive efficiency and third in points per game (93.3). South Carolina ranks first nationally in defensive efficiency and fifth in points allowed (59.4). Something’s gotta give, right?
“They do it rebounding, they do it giving you a tough shot, they do it (with) full rotations. They’ll bring four guys at the ball. You drive, they’re coming three, four deep at you,” Calipari said. “I’ve always liked Frank, and he knows that, but I’ve always respected him as a coach and I know how he doesn’t baby kids. He’s coaching them. 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.”
* Educating Monk: Upon further review, his freshman star’s technical foul for hanging on the rim at Mississippi State wasn’t that bad. It doesn’t matter to Calipari. “It wasn’t wildly (egregious), but why do it?” he said. “Here’s what I’m trying to explain to him: He is so good that just playing hard and making easy plays, you’ll do three outrageous things they’ll put on SportsCenter – not even trying. You’re trying to get on SportsCenter.”
Kentucky’s coach has had a star guard like that before, one who took a little time to get it as a freshman. His name was John Wall, and he turned out pretty good.
“I said the same thing: ‘John, you don’t have to lose your mind and do something nutty. Just play hard and you’re going to make a play.’ And then he goes 1 for 9 but that one play was so outrageous they put it on SportsCenter,” Calipari said. “(Monk) is the same. But they’re young. They’re 18- and 19-year-olds.”