UK withstands late surge, wins 67-58

COLUMBIA, S.C. – John Calipari was still his usual self, demonstrative and animated and loud, even as UK led South Carolina by 18 points with 11 minutes left. The game seemed like a convincing victory for UK.

“The reason I was still coaching and getting on guys was because they didn’t understand we could lose the game,” Calipari said. “I was just trying to get out of the gym when we were up 18. But they still found a way to get back into the game.”

That they did, as South Carolina ripped off an 11-0 run late in the game to cut the lead to within five in the final minutes before UK (15-4, 3-2 SEC) sealed its first conference road win with free throws late in a 67-58 victory.

“We needed to show we could win on the road and prove to ourselves, that confidence that we can do this,” said Terrence Jones, who scored 14 points while playing through an ankle injury that forced him to take painkillers and double-tape it.

UK withstood the late rally with clutch free throws from Doron Lamb. UK killed 26 seconds on the shot clock before South Carolina fouled, sending Lamb to the line for a one-and-one.

He knocked down both.

After South Carolina missed a three-pointer, Lamb was sent to the line for another one-and-one.

He knocked down both, again.

“We stuck him in for one reason,” Calipari said. “We want you to have it to make free throws. The kid goes up and makes four. He’s a freshman. He’s 18 years old. National television. They’re making a run, if he misses this, the game’s on. We may lose this game.”

UK was led by Brandon Knight’s 23 points. Halfway through the second half, as South Carolina made its first charge at UK and cut the lead to 12, Knight rattled off eight straight points for UK. Knight also played through a knee injury that forced him to the bench with an ice pack for a few minutes.

And Darius Miller, who now has four straight double-digit games, scored 18 points, two shy of a career high. He hit a buzzer-beater at the end of the first half with a patient hop-step jumper, but it was his aggressiveness, not the highlights, that got him going. He was attacking the paint, utilizing a spin move around the basket to score points and get to the line.

As a reporter started to ask Miller what he did differently this game, Calipari interrupted to get his point across.

“No fadeaways,” Calipari said simply. “That’s what it is.”

While UK was paced by its two stars, South Carolina’s was shut down by DeAndre Liggins. Bruce , who Knight called “the key to their team,” scored eight points. And he got called for a technical foul in the second half during a timeout that gave him four fouls and took him out of the game.

Liggins scored a single point while missing all seven of his shots, but once again his defense proved crucial for UK. South Carolina shot 33.3 percent from the floor on the game, and nobody except for center Sam Muldrow (23 points) scored double-digit points.

“We can always depend on him to lock somebody down,” Miller said. “And we feed off that. He did a great job of taking him out of the game, and I think that was the main part of the win.”


John Calipari on the win:

Terrence Jones:

Brandon Knight: