For one play Rajon Rondo silenced his jump shot critics by taking the ball coast to coast and sinking a three point basket with 1.4 seconds remaining, lifting Kentucky over South Carolina 80-78.
The Wildcats found themselves trailing South Carolina by 12 after the Gamecocks went on a 15-0 run early in the second half. But, where earlier in the year they may have folded, Kentucky answered their opponents with a 20-4 run of their own to retake the lead at 66-62.
For one play Rajon Rondo silenced his jump shot critics by taking the
ball coast to coast and sinking a three point basket with 1.4 seconds remaining, lifting
Kentucky over South Carolina 80-78.
The Wildcats found themselves trailing South Carolina by 12 after the
Gamecocks went on a 15-0 run early in the second half.
But, where earlier in the year they may have folded, Kentucky answered their
opponents with a 20-4 run of their own to retake the lead at 66-62.
Carolina battled back and held on to a 76-74 with 31 seconds to play. It was then that Patrick Sparks acted out his best
Tayshaun Prince impersonation, stroking a deep three (his feet were on part of the UK at
mid-court, a la Prince vs. North Carolina) to give the Wildcats a 77-76 edge.
The Gamecocks then found Antoine Tinsby under the basket, who drew a
controversial foul with 9.9 seconds left in the game.
Tinsby, who has shot 57% from the foul line on the season, nailed both free
throws, leaving the Cats staring at a 77-78 deficit.
The inbounds pass went to Rajon Rondo, who dribbled the length of the
court, ending up on the wing behind the three point line.
Rondo faked a handoff to Ramel Bradley, made a crossover dribble freeing up
some space, and launched a fall away three that gave Kentucky the 80-78 lead and the win.
With the victory, Kentucky avoided becoming the only Wildcat team in history to lose three
straight SEC home games. Saturdays
contest marked the second straight game that four Wildcats reached double figures in
scoring, and also their second straight conference win.
Joe Crawford led the Cats in scoring with 15 on 7-10 shooting. Patrick Sparks carried the confidence he regained
in Athens, adding 14 points that included four three pointers. Bobby Perry led all bench
scorers with 13, with 10 of those points coming in the second half with Kentucky on the
ropes. Randolph Morris was limited to only 12
points, all of which came in the first half due to foul trouble.
Kentucky and South Carolinas offenses had been criticized on
the past, but on Saturday both teams shot over 50% from the floor. South Carolinas Tarence Kinsey lit the
Wildcats defense up with 21 points. He
and Dwayne Day, who notched 18 points of his own, scorched the net with jump shots from
Kentuckys offense sputtered when Randolph Morris left the game
early in the second half with foul troubles. Coach
Tubby Smith turned to a lineup of four guards and Bobby Perry to reignite the Wildcats
offense and bring them back in the game.
Prior to tip-off, Tubby noted his teams new found enthusiasm
after the win at Georgia.
[In practice] they looked like, acted like, and performed like
they were anxious to get back on the floor again.
The Wildcats proved that they are once again playing with confidence
and passion by emerging victorious after what turned out to be a shoot out with South
Carolina in Rupp Arena.
Kentucky, now 12-6 (2-2) on the year, will ride this two game
winning streak into Auburn on Tuesday.
South Carolina falls to 10-8 (1-4) on the
year, and will take on the nations only unbeaten team, Florida, on Wednesday.
Rekalin Sims returned to action on Saturday after missing two games to a back injury. He recorded two points and three rebounds in seven
minutes of action.