Crawford spoils Odom's farewell

The Kentucky senior guard duo of Joe Crawford and Ramel Bradley combined to spoil Dave Odom's final home game as head coach of the South Carolina Gamecocks. Odom, who announced his retirement earlier in the season, saw his Gamecocks lose at home for the sixth time in eight SEC games.

Joe Crawford with 35 points and Ramel Bradley with 20 were the offensive stars for the Wildcats, but no player may have been more important in the win than sophomore Ramon Harris. Harris drew the defensive assignment for Devan Downey. Downey entered the game as the SEC's second leading scorer as well as being second in the league in assists. Harris harassed Downey into 3-12 from the field, and held the speedy guard to just nine points.

The Kentucky Wildcats got back on track against South Carolina, as they won yet another close game. This game varied slightly from previous close wins as Kentucky jumped out to an early lead to begin the game, and South Carolina fought to remain in striking distance.

After taking a nine point halftime lead the Wildcats quickly pushed the lead into double-digits early in the second half and maintained the lead for much of the second half. Midway through the second stanza the Kentucky lead stood at 16 after Crawford hit a three-pointer that was from more than 25-feet from the basket. The shot was reminiscent of the very deep three Tayshawn Prince hit against North Carolina during his senior season.

After achieving the big lead a four minute dry spell near the end of the second half allowed South Carolina to make a game of it, a Bradley pull up jumper and a pair of Crawford free throws on back-to-back Kentucky possessions stopped the bleeding, and righted the ship. South Carolina pulled within five, 62-57, but a three by Bradley pushed the lead back to eight. Bradley scored on a layup on the following possession to put Kentucky in position to put the game on ice.

Down the stretch South Carolina fought to cut into the Kentucky lead by fouling and sending the Wildcats to the line. The Gamecocks not only missed crucial shots, but they lost Downey with his fifth foul when he fouled Bradley in the backcourt.

Crawford with 35 points and Bradley with 20 were the offensive stars for the Wildcats, but no player may have been more important in the win than sophomore Ramon Harris. Harris drew the defensive assignment for Devan Downey. Downey entered the game as the SEC's second leading scorer as well as being second in the league in assists. Harris harassed Downey into 3-12 from the field, and held the speedy guard to just nine points.

Crawford and Bradley combined to hit 16 of 30 field goals to power the Wildcats to a better than 56% shooting night from the field. The senior duo was also hot from behind the arc, as they combined to hit 7 of 13 long range shots. No other Kentucky player attempted a three-point field goal.

Harris added six for the Wildcats, and Mark Coury chipped in with four. Derek Jasper, Perry Stevenson and AJ Stewart rounded out the scoring with two points each. Jasper's 7 rebounds led the Cats to another win in the battle of the boards, as the Cats out-rebounded the Gamecocks 30-28. Stevenson gathered in six misses for the Cats.

Zam Frederick led the Gamecocks with 19 points, and Mike Holmes added 16 for the Gamecocks.

The win improves the Wildcats to 17-11 overall, and 11-4 in the SEC. The loss drops South Carolina to 13-16 overall and 5-10 in league play.

The loss also may have put the final nail in the South Carolina's postseason coffin, barring a run to an SEC championship the Gamecocks are unlikely to qualify for NCAA or NIT play. A trip to Tennessee is likely to leave the Gamecocks four games under the break even mark, meaning it will take an SEC title to finish .500 overall.


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