Hale McGranahan/SEC Country
Chris Silva

South Carolina basketball: Observations from the Kentucky win

Hale McGranahan

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina basketball team upset No. 16 Kentucky on Tuesday night at Colonial Life Arena, 76-68.

With the win, the Gamecocks improved to 12-5 (3-3 SEC). The Wildcats dropped to 14-4 (4-2 SEC).

Frank Martin couldn’t have scripted a better start. Maik Kotsar’s steal at the top of the key that led to a one-man fast-break dunk that started an 11-4 run.

Shoot, Martin could have done much better with the ending either. Just how good is this team defensively? In the final 6:12, Kentucky went without a made shot from the field. While some of the Big Blue faithful might suggest that’s an indication of their team’s struggles on offense, it was a heck of an effort by the Gamecocks on that end of the floor.

It certainly helped that Kentucky struggled to make free-throws down the stretch, which allowed South Carolina to erase a 14-point deficit.

Chris Silva, who was performing in front about 20 NBA scouts and front-office personnel, played like a grown man. He finished with 27 points and 8 rebounds.

A few more observations from Tuesday night:

  • Wes Myers and Frank Booker, along with Silva, were big in the second half. Myers and Booker combined for 27 points.
  • Colonial Life was rocking to start the night as the Gamecocks built their lead to as many as nine points, but things started to go south when Maik Kotsar picked up his second foul with just under 12 minutes to play in the first half.
  • Kentucky took its first lead of the night with 6:39 left in the opening half.
  • South Carolina went more than 10 minutes in the first half without making a shot from the field. During the stretch, which Silva snapped with a slam, the Gamecocks were 0 for 15 from the field.
  • Frankly, the first half was as ugly as hell, the first half in particular, as both teams combined for 38 fouls and 20 turnovers during the period.
  • Kentucky led by as many as 14 in the second half, but South Carolina used a 13-4 run, to cut the deficit to four with 7:21 to play.
  • With 4:22 left, the Gamecocks cut the lead to two on Silva’s and-one put-back. They regained the lead about a minute later when Myers’ shot was goal-tended by a Wildcat defender.