UK, Calipari looks to put prior years behind them in matchup with South Carolina


Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari celebrates with guards Isaiah Briscoe, Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox in the closing minutes against the Vanderbilt Commodores during the second half at Memorial Gymnasium in Nashville, Tennessee on Tuesday, January 10, 2017. Photo by Michael Reaves | Staff

Phillip Hawkins

After a hard fought win against Mississippi State, the No. 5 Cats are preparing to take on SEC rival No. 24 South Carolina Gamecocks in a packed house at Rupp Arena Saturday. 

The Cats are on a six game winning streak, while the Gamecocks have won four in a row themselves. The last time these two teams met was almost a year ago and the Cats won by 27 on the road. UK will be looking for the same result on Saturday night.

South Carolina has a tough guard tandem that is led by senior guard Sindarius Thornwell and sophomore guard PJ Dozier. Thornwell will be the man to keep an eye on for the Gamecocks as he leads the team in points, rebounds and assists per game. He could be a key factor in the game.

With losses to Seton Hall, Clemson and Memphis, South Carolina is looking to improve their record Saturday night. While they are undefeated in conference play this season, an upcoming game against Florida on Thursday night could change that. The Gamecocks are ranked third in the SEC only behind UK and Florida so far this season. 

The Cats played a tough game against Mississippi State on Tuesday night in Starkville, Miss. They were led by freshman guard De’Aaron Fox who scored 21 points against the Bulldogs.  In the last five games, Fox has scored in double figures while shooting greater than 50 percent from the field in all five games.

This is going to be a tough matchup for the Cats as they go against the Gamecocks. UK is ranked second in the NCAA in points per game, while South Carolina is ranked eighth in the NCAA in points allowed per game this season. The Cats will have their hands full against the tough South Carolina defense.

When these teams met last in South Carolina, it was a short lived game for coach John Calipari. He was ejected in the first three minutes in the matchup against the Gamecocks last season over a foul. That wasn’t the first time that Calipari had been ejected when facing the South Carolina. He was also tossed from a game back in 2014. 

Regardless of these teams’ previous history with each other, it should be a rowdy crowd at Rupp for the game on Saturday night.