LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky won its fourth-consecutive game in business-like fashion Tuesday at Rupp Arena, a 77-55 victory over South Carolina.
The Wildcats placed five players in double-figures, shot 61 percent from the field, held the Gamecocks to 29 percent on the opposite end and dominated the boards to a 42-25 count.
While that may sound like a recipe for a happy coach, something didn't feel completely satisfying to John Calipari.
"I still want more," the UK boss said after rattling off the night's long list of positive stats. "I still want more emotion from some of the guys.
"Maybe I'm crazy," Calipari continued. "Our numbers for the year, to be playing four freshmen like we are -- and Ryan (Harrow) you might as well consider a freshman and Julius (Mays) didn't play here last year -- to be playing that kind of team and have the kind of numbers we have, it's ridiculous... It's nutty, but we still aren't where we have to be to surrender to each other and feel the joy that I want these guys to feel."
Nonetheless, Kentucky (16-6, 7-2 SEC) moved within a game of conference leader Florida by virtue of the Gators' loss Tuesday at Arkansas. South Carolina dropped to 12-10 overall and 2-7 in league play.
If Calipari wasn't fully satisfied with his club, Frank Martin was disgusted by his Gamecocks' performance. The typically-animated Martin spent almost the entire second half seated on the bench and expended very little energy on his team.
"I've been in Rupp Arena a handful of times as a fan, watching former players that played here at Kentucky," he said. "I can tell you, I never thought I'd see the day where the opposing team put the crowd to sleep. We did a heck of a job with putting everyone to sleep in there. It is what it is."
Senior guard Julius Mays was 4-for-5 from long range to post a team-high 15 points for Kentucky and draw some praise from his coach.
"It's not just what he's doing shooting the ball," Calipari said of Mays, who has now hit 19 of 32 3-pointers (59.4 percent) in SEC play. "He's really defending. He's got a veteran way about him."
Archie Goodwin and Willie Cauley-Stein each followed with 13 points for UK. Ryan Harrow scored 12 points on 6-for-6 shooting. Nerlens Noel added 10 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots. The freshman center eclipsed the 100-rejection mark for the season and now has 102 in 22 games, just slightly off the record pace set by Anthony Davis last season.
Kentucky struggled with the Gamecocks in the early going, trailing 18-17 at the 10:22 mark, but took control with a 28-6 run to lead 45-24 at half. It marked the Wildcats' largest lead against an SEC opponent at the break this season.
South Carolina closed the gap to 15 points on two occasions in the second half (53-38 and 55-40) but could not string together a sustained run against UK's stingy defense.
• Kentucky leads the all-time series over South Carolina 47-10 and has won six consecutive over the Gamecocks. The Wildcats lead the series 25-2 in Lexington.
• The Wildcats are 7-1 now with the starting lineup of Harrow, Mays, Goodwin, Poythress and Noel.
• UK moved to 30-0 under Calipari when holding an opponent to 55 or fewer points.
• Kentucky held a 42-18 advantage in scoring in the paint.
• The Wildcats have held six consecutive opponents under 40 percent shooting from the field.
• UK returns to action Saturday at 4 p.m. when Auburn visits Rupp Arena. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.