UK @ South Carolina – Post Game
Posted by ibleedblue040 on March 5, 2008
To lead off the Post Game I would just like to let everyone know that I did not right a Preview for the UK/USC game because of a death in my family. Instead of the usual routine of me addressing how UK did on completing the KEYS TO THE GAME I will go back to the way I used to do it for this game, which is just to talk about what the ‘Cats did right and wrong in their game tonight. First off let me just say I was pleasantly surprised at how UK played for the first 34 minutes or so. UK came out and actually took it to the Gamecocks instead of playing tentative like I thought they would. Joe Crawford looked as though he was playing with children out there tonight and played the best game I have ever seen him play and really took over down the stretch along with fellow senior Ramel Bradley. Something that Crawford has this year under coach Billy Gillispie that he did not have under Tubby Smith is that killer instinct to take over the game in the crucial minutes of the game when other players are struggling to score the ball. Crawford really stepped up and showed a lot of heart tonight. Crawford could have easily gone for 40 had their been a few more foul calls when he got mugged underneath after a brilliant drive to the hoop or when he just overpowered his man to the basket.
KEYS TO THE GAME
There were a few things that jumped out to me while I was watching this game tonight that help show why UK was able to control the game pretty much the whole way and why they ended up getting their 17th victory of the season. The one stat that really jumped out at me that most people who actually watched the game would have been able to pick up on was the discrepency in field goal percentages between the two teams. Kentucky played unbelievable on-ball defense against the Gamecocks. UK shot a very good 56.4% from the field tonight compared to only 40.0% by South Carolina. Kentucky played very good defense and the Gamecocks still shot better than the average team does against the Wildcats. The real key in the field goal shooting stat was South Carolina only had one starter shoot above 50%. Devan Downey only shot 33.3% from the floor and Dominique Archer shot a career-low 0.0% (0-8) from the floor including 0-2 from behind the arc. Kentucky on the other hand had all five of their starters shoot at least 50% from the floor. The Wildcats only had one player shoot under 50% from the floor out of their whole team (Perry Stevenson, 1-3). One of those five starters was Joe Crawford who went OFF tonight against South Carolina finishing with a career-high 35 points against the Gamecocks. Crawford has scored 20.2 points per game over his last 6 games for the ‘Cats, Kentucky has a record of 5-1 in that span, their only loss coming last game at Tennessee in which Crawford only scored 9 points, the lowest of his 6 game streak.
The second KEY TO THE GAME was limiting Devan Downey’s scoring. Downey only scored 9 points tonight, one reason why the Wildcats won, and only shot 33.3% from the field. One reason why Downey’s points have been going down over the past couple games is he might be tiring because of the long haul of the season and the fact that he has played at least 30 minutes in every game but 2 this season (He has two games in which he played 28 minutes). He ranks second in the Southeastern Conference in minutes played with just over 37 mpg, the same amount of minutes he played tonight. Downey came into the game ranked second in the SEC in scoring on the season at about 19 ppg but came up 10 points short tonight, USC only lost by 8. Ramon Harris is the player that got the difficult task of guarding Downey one on one the whole night and he proved to be a key factor tonight. Harris played 38 minutes tonight, the third most of his career, mainly because of his greatness guarding Downey down the stretch. Harris played very smart and really was one of the biggest reasons for the Kentucky win. Harris did not put up huge box score numbers but anybody who watched the game can tell you that he was a big difference maker tonight.
The third and final KEY TO THE GAME was the differential in free throw shooting. UK is the best free throw shooting team in the league so one of the KEYS going in for the ‘Cats was to go to the line and to try to rack up easy points from the charity stripe. Kentucky shot a little below their season average from the line tonight but still attempted enough to where it made a big difference in the outcome of the game. Kentucky attempted 28 free throws compared to only 15 by USC, and Kentucky made 20 free throws compared to only 10 by South Carolina. Free throws might have been the difference in the game because UK made 10 more free throws than USC and they only won by 8.
March 9 vs. Florida (Senior Night)
12:00 pm EST on CBS