SC shot 38 percent from the field, missed 18 of its 23 shots from the arc, came up empty on 13 free throws, and suffered an 11-minute drought without a bucket on Tuesday night in Columbia, S.C.
As Coach John Calipari saw it, Kentucky lost 76-68 because the most inexperienced team perhaps in college basketball history was not up to the challenge. Both teams combined to commit a whopping 59 fouls over the course of a forty minute game.
"This looked like a bunch of freshmen playing like freshmen would play", he said.
Freshman forward Kevin Knox recorded 21 points and eight rebounds for Kentucky (14-4, 4-2). "We really haven't scrimmaged with him - we've done some half-court stuff - but I thought he was pretty good for the first time out". Sometimes the other team is more talented and wins the game. "Our attention to detail was on point". His first points of the game came at the free throw line late in the half. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had two turnovers early and SC got off to a 7-0 start causing coach John Calipari to quickly burn a timeout.
South Carolina's Chris Silva led all scorers with 27 points, while Frank Booker added 18 for the Gamecocks. Kotsar made one of two free throws. That allowed SC to get the ball in to their big man - Chris Silva - in the paint where he scored repeatedly around the basket.
During the Wildcats' pre-game shootaround in South Carolina, Calipari lined up and drained a halfcourt shot.
The teams traded leads for the rest of the half until Kentucky hit three free throws inside the half's final minute to take a 37-34 lead into the break. By contrast, SC made eight in a row, and nine of 10 in that same time frame.
"This has to give us confidence", Martin said.
The absence of solid point guard didn't help, although Calipari downplayed that suggestion.
Vanderbilt gives the Cats six guys 6-9 or taller and eight former 5-star recruits - as soon as the starting point guard comes back. He did not even make the trip.
Unfortunately for the Wildcats down the stretch they failed to execute the little things that had them winning close contests with Texas A&M and Vanderbilt. But Calipari saw the loss at SC as "a different situation". The Kentucky Wildcats played below the level of the competition and lost on the road for the second time this season in the SEC. "And 'I'm going to do what I'm choosing to do. Yeah, that's what I thought", as if to say: What, did you think he'd stink? .
SC improved to 12-6 overall and 3-3 in the SEC.
United Kingdom fell to 14-4 overall and 4-2 in the Southeastern Conference.