Kentucky loses 28-game home win streak in stunner loss to South Carolina


Jack Weaver

Kentucky Wildcats guard CJ Fredrick (1) hangs his head during the Kentucky vs. South Carolina mens basketball game on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. South Carolina won 71-68, ending Kentucky’s 28-game home winning streak. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Cole Parke, Sports Editor

Kentucky mens basketball was stunned 71-68 inside Rupp Arena by the South Carolina Gamecocks on Tuesday, ending a 28-game home winning streak for the program.

The 2022-23 season has been nothing short of disappointing for Kentucky, who currently stands at 10-6 overall and 1-3 in the SEC, only ahead of Ole Miss and tied with Florida in the conference standings, despite starting the season ranked No. 4 overall.

That said, the loss to South Carolina felt like a new low for many as, despite the disappointing losses to the likes of Missouri and Michigan State, Kentucky had been able to maintain its home winning streak, standing at 9-0 inside Rupp Arena entering the matchup against the Gamecocks.

Losing inside Rupp, especially to a team like USC, seemed almost infeasible to many in attendance as the Cats had already conquered, albeit narrowly, LSU 74-71 for their only conference win of the season and also recorded what is rated by some metrics as their best win of the season over Yale inside the arena. The win over Yale also marks the only win this season Kentucky has over a team projected to make the NCAA Tournament in ESPN’s Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology.

In spite of all of that, the Wildcat fans in attendance could only sit in stunned silence and head for the exits as Kentucky missed back-to-back game tying 3-pointers to force overtime.

The loss was the first inside of the arena for Kentucky since the 2020-21 Cats, who notoriously missed the NCAA Tournament altogether for the second time under head coach John Calipari, were defeated 71-67 by the Florida Gators on Feb. 27, 2021.

Since then, the Cats won their final home game of that season, a 92-64 blowout over South Carolina, and completed the entire 2021-22 season undefeated at home.

That 2021-22 team, highlighted by NBA talent TyTy Washington Jr. and Oscar Tshiebwe, who was crowned consensus national player of the year, breezed through its home non-conference schedule, winning by an average of 26 points in the first seven games inside Rupp Arena.

Playing three more non-conference games inside Rupp Arena prior to the bulk of conference play, Kentucky then outscored Western Kentucky, Missouri and High Point by an average of over 35 points.

Kentucky continued to breeze through its home games with 92-77 and 107-79 wins over Georgia and then No. 22 Tennessee respectively before it was truly tested on home court.

Overcoming its first major test, Kentucky defeated Mississippi State 82-74 in overtime in a game that was notorious for being rumored to be the debut, that would ultimately never come, of Shaedon Sharpe.

Kentucky then finished out the year with wins over Vanderbilt, Florida, then No. 25 Alabama, LSU and finally Ole Miss, completing the season perfect at home.

Now with the disastrous loss to South Carolina, the highs of that 2021-22 season seem so far away for many Kentucky fans. 

Kentucky is set to travel to Knoxville to take on No. 5 Tennessee inside Thompson-Boling Arena this Saturday, Jan. 14, before returning home on Jan. 17 to host Georgia. 

While college basketball is unpredictable, with the likes of No. 2 Kansas, No. 21 Auburn and Tennessee still set to walk through the doors of Rupp Arena later this season, it’s hard to imagine Kentucky getting any substantial home win streak going this season.