I can't decide if Billy Gillispie's Wildcats played that poorly, or South Carolina played supremely, but I'm sure the answer lies somewhere in between. Regardless, the Gamecocks' 77-59 beat down of Kentucky was arguably the Wildcats' worst performance this season.
Yeah, sure, the Cats got drilled by VMI and Miami at home, but that was barely a month into the season. The game in Columbia on Wednesday comes with three games left in the regular season. What's worse, the Wildcats were coming off their best game of the year, that 77-58 blowout win over Tennessee last Saturday.
Much like the 41-point loss to Vandy last year, Wednesday's loss is hard to explain. With first place in the East on the line, Gillispie's guys came out listless, save Patrick Patterson, who somehow managed to score 28 points and pull down 12 boards. "My team confounds me," Gillispie said on Thursday, during a taping of his television show. "I have a hard time with some of the things going on right now, but it's my job to get it fixed."
Without naming names, Gillispie hinted that he was disappointed with the production from two positions. Likely, he was talking about Michael Porter (0 points, 5 turnovers vs. USC) and Perry Stevenson (4 pts., 1 reb.).
Darrin Horn's squad rose to the occasion, gaining possession of the top spot in the East, in front of a sellout crowd at the Colonial Life Arena. Devan Downey again was stellar, scoring a team-high 21 points, but it was Carolina's defensive effort that stood out.
South Carolina forced 20 UK turnovers. When the Cats got the ball across the mid-court stripe, Carolina was taking it away, with 10 steals. Sam Muldrow lead a record-breaking block party, swatting seven Wildcat shots. USC's 16 blocked shots was a school record.
Horn cashes in
Former Tates Creek star Darrin Horn now is 2-0 against UK. Horn, who makes around $800,000 per season at South Carolina, has a series of incentives built into his contract that could pay him an additional $390,000 a year.
It's thought that one of those bonuses includes a 20-win season. With his team's 77-59 win over Kentucky, Horn's Gamecocks are 20-6 on the year. That would mean Horn picks up a nice chunk of change for blowing out the Cats.
Carolina likely is NCAA Tournament-bound, which would mean Horn picks up an additional $25,000.
Not a bad night's work, I'd say.