Kentucky lost 81 to 78 in a last second heart breaker against South Carolina. Jermaine
Couisnard capped off his career high 26-point night with a three-point buzzer-beater from well behind the line.
Coach Calipari knew this game would be a difficult one well before tip-off. After this win the Gamecocks have won two straight against the Wildcats in Columbia and three of the last five games.
“He talked about it yesterday, how he got tossed there,” guard Tyrese Maxey said of Coach Cal before the game, “The vets say it’s going to be hard.”
Coach Kenny Payne also talked about the difficulties of playing at South Carolina, “Well, I think the first thing is definitely the culture. Frank Martin is a tough coach, a tough Miami coach. His culture is physicality, toughness, rebounding, fighting, you’re not just going to walk into his arena and play basketball and it’s free flowing. He’s going to make the game hard.”
The Gamecocks won the game, but it was all Kentucky in the first half. The Wildcats were impeccable on the defensive end to start the game. They held the Gamecocks scoreless for the first four-and-a-half minutes of play and didn’t allow a field goal for the first six-and-a-half minutes.
Kentucky maintained clear control until back-to-back Couisnard threes to cut the lead to five. The teams were back and forth for the next few minutes. Ashton Hagans ended the half with a three-point play, making the score at the end of the half, 33-25.
The first five minutes of the half saw the Wildcats build their largest lead of the night at 46-32.
“You’re going to get hit at times and you’ve gotta be ready for a fight. If you’re not, the aggressor wins,” said Coach Payne. The Wildcats were certainly the aggressor in the first half, but they got hit back hard in the second.
With six minutes and change left to play, South Carolina had whittled the Wildcats lead down to just one. Maxey kept Kentucky afloat with threes in two straight possessions.
“It’s easier now just knowing where we’re going to get those shots and just being more comfortable with your teammates,” Maxey said of the team’s shooting.
Four-straight from Couisnard tied the game with 4:25 left.
A 9-3 Gamecock run gave South Carolina their largest lead of the night with just over a minute to play. The game seemed to be over when Immanuel Quickley outscored the Gamecocks 7-1 with the final shot tying the game with just five seconds left. Couisnard then ran up the court and sank a dagger to end the game.
Nick Richards, Hagans, Quickley and Maxey combined for 61 of the Wildcats’ 78 points.
Quickley lead the Wildcats with 20 points, six rebounds and two assists. The guard shot 6-9 and capitalized on 50% of his three-point attempts.
Richards ended with 15 points on 5-6 shooting. The big pulled down seven rebounds and blocked four shots.
Hagans and Maxey each walked away with 13 points. Hagans also had seven assists.
Kentucky’s next game will be another hard road fight, this time against Arkansas. The Cats take on the Razorbacks at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday.