Odom's USC squad denied at Rupp

South Carolina's Dave Odom came into Lexington for Saturday's contest with the Kentucky Wildcats in search of the elusive win over the Wildcats in Rupp Arena. Odom, who recently announced that he will retire at the end of the season, witnessed what has become the norm when the Gamecocks visit Rupp Arena, as USC dropped another close decision to the Wildcats, 78-70.

The South Carolina Gamecocks used a 12-0 run to open the second half to turn a five-point Kentucky halftime advantage into a seven-point South Carolina lead at 46-39. Kentucky then went to the scoring commodities that have often proven to be reliable this season, Patrick Patterson in the post and Ramel Bradley on the perimeter. The duo combined to score 25 of Kentucky's 39 second half points, and lead the Wildcats to a second consecutive come from behind win at Rupp.

Even more valuable than the offense Bradley provided may have been the defense the senior played on South Carolina's Zam Frederick over the last 15 minutes of the game. Frederick came out of the South Carolina locker room firing to begin the second half, and hit three of the four three-point shots that were made during the USC 12-0 run. Bradley moved over to take Frederick defensively, and held the sharpshooter to a single basket the rest of the afternoon.

Equally important was the defense of Derrick Jasper on Frederick's backcourt running mate, Devan Downey. Jasper was the main defender during the second half, when Downey was held to just two field goals for most of the half. Downey hit three layups in the last 30 seconds, when the UK defense extended to prevent three-point shots after taking a 72-64 lead with 44 seconds remaining. At that point in the game the Wildcats were grudgingly willing to give up a layup in order to prevent South Carolina from using the three-point basket to cut into the lead.

Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie commented on his team after the contest. Gillispie said, "That was a great win for us against a team that is extremely hard to play against and who played very well, I thought, offensively for most of the game. I thought the most important thing would be how much we hung our heads when they would take 24 or 28 seconds off the shot clock then shoot a three and make it. I was very proud that our guys never hung their heads, but hung in there and continued to guard. We made some mental mistakes, but they are a very tough team to guard because they shoot well and spread you out on the court and presented very tough match-up problems for us. I am excited about the way we hung in there and made a lot of plays down the stretch. I love the way this team is handling in down-the-stretch situations."

Bradley led the Wildcats with his second career double-double, netting a game high 26 points, grabbing a game high 10 rebounds, and dishing out a team high 4 assists. The senior was a perfect 5 of 5 from long range.

After the game Bradley was asked about his clutch play. The senior said, "I am confident that I can make those shots. It feels good to have my teammates and my coach believing in me. I practice those types of shots in practice and hit them. It pays off in a game situation."

Patterson added 22 points and 9 rebounds for the Wildcats. Kentucky Sophomores Jodie Meeks and Perry Stevenson joined their teammates in double figures adding 13 and 12 respectively.

Stevenson's solid play continued as he once again played well opposite Patrick Patterson. Stevenson credited his teammate with aiding in his new found offense, "Patrick makes everything easier. He's not only a good scorer and a great defender, but he passes the ball really well. That helps an offense out tremendously."

The Wildcats continued their good work off the glass, as they out rebounded the Gamecocks 37-28. The Wildcats shot the ball well on the afternoon hitting on 51% of their field goal attempts, including 8-13 from behind the arc.

The Wildcats were a perfect 7 of 7 on charity tosses down the stretch, after an uncharacteristically shaky 11 for 16 on charity tosses through the first thirty-three minutes of play. On the game the Wildcats connected on eighteen of their twenty-three attempts from the free throw line. South Carolina was 2 of 3 from the stripe for the game. Downey was the lone Gamecock to attempt a free throw on the afternoon.

Kentucky played shorthanded once again. Senior Joe Crawford sat out the contest with a tender heel, caused by plantar fasciitis. Crawford's teammates expect him to be available for their next game, which comes next Saturday, as the Cats travel to Athens, Georgia to take on the Georgia Bulldogs. The game, scheduled for a 1 PM tip, will be televised by CBS.

The Gamecocks were led in scoring by Downey, with 24. Frederick added 13. Evaldus Baniulis and Dominique Archie each had 12 for the visitors.

The Wildcats even their record at 9-9 on the season, and are now 3-2 in the SEC. South Carolina's record falls to 9-10, and 1-4 in SEC play.




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