Cats cruise to another home win against Gamecocks


Freshman guard Tyler Herro guards an USC player at mid court. University of Kentucky men’s basketball team played University of South Carolina at Rupp Arena on Tuesday, February 5, 2019, in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Keeping the second-longest winning streak in the SEC alive was hardly an issue for the UK men’s basketball team against conference opponent South Carolina on Tuesday night.

The Cats were led by a slew of players, as forward PJ Washington scored 20 points, guard Tyler Herro added 11 and Reid Travis threw in an 11-point, nine-rebound performance.

The hallmark of UK’s 76-48 victory over the 11-10 (6-2) Gamecocks was their defense. They forced 19 turnovers, 11 of which were live-ball steals. Even though there was a five-minute stretch in the second half in which the Cats didn’t score, they maintained a double-digit lead over nearly the entire second half.

They allowed a measly 20 points in the second half, forcing the Gamecocks to shoot only 27.6 percent from the floor as the Cats pulled away.

The game didn’t start nearly as much in UK’s favor. Even though the Cats sidelined USC star forward Chris Silva, who averages 14 points and seven rebounds per game with early foul trouble, the Gamecocks were able to keep an almost complete lead until there were seven minutes left in the first half. The lead, however, never grew past four points.

South Carolina’s early lead was mostly due to an accurate three-point display from graduate transfer guard Tre Campbell, who made his first three three-point attempts.

An and-one layup at the seven-minute mark in the first half gave the Cats a lead they wouldn’t let go. They were able to stretch it to double-digits thanks to strong rebounding and hard defense. UK led the overall rebounding margin 50-27, one of UK’s largest of the year.

Then, in the second half, the Cats ran away with their stout defensive effort and a spectacular show from freshman forward EJ Montgomery. Montgomery averages 3.9 points and 3.3 rebounds per game, but against the Gamecocks, he grabbed career-highs with 13 rebounds to go with 11 points. His previous career high in rebounds was seven, and in points was 10.

The only teams Kentucky allowed less points to this season were 44 to Monmouth and 47 to Vanderbilt. The Cats will move on to a road game against Mississippi State.