National Basketball Association
Kentucky 85, South Carolina 69
When: 6:00 PM ET, Saturday, January 21, 2017
Where: Rupp Arena, Lexington, Kentucky
# Karl Hess, # Ron Groover, # Chuck Jones
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Fifth-ranked Kentucky stands alone as the only undefeated team in the SEC following an 85-69 victory over No. 24 South Carolina on Saturday.
"Credit to Kentucky, obviously," South Carolina coach Frank Martin said. "They are a high-powered offensive team and they came at us. We didn't do a very good job of defending the basketball early in the game and they just rolled us and kind of put us on our heels. By the time the time the game settled down, we were down 18, 17, something like that."
Freshman guard Malik Monk led Kentucky with 27 points, 15 coming in the first half.
"He's been doing unbelievable work the last week," Calipari said. "Man, he's put in his time. He's mastering his craft. We had a great practice film session. I go up to my office and I shower and I look back and he and Isaiah Briscoe are like in a full body sweat getting a workout in. That's what we need to see. My job is to get them to come together. Their job is to be responsible for themselves."
Freshman forward Bam Adebayo added 18 points for the Wildcats (17-2, 7-0 SEC). Senior forward Derek Willis had 12 points and seven rebounds and freshman forward Wenyen Gabriel scored 11.
Between Willis and Gabriel, Kentucky got 23 points and 12 rebounds from the power forward position.
"They're just giving us so much now," Calipari said. "Making threes, making open shots, rebounding balls. I also held them accountable and said, "Look, if you guys can't get this done, I'll play a small lineup or I'll play a big lineup. It's on you." And they're getting better."
Kentucky shot 58.3 percent -- its seventh straight contest at 50 percent or better, including 40 percent from 3-point range.
The Gamecocks (15-4, 5-1) got a monstrous game from senior guard Sindarius Thornwell, who scored a career-best 34 points. TeMarcus Blanton added 12.
"Sin's a winner," Martin said. "He loves the big stage, he loves to compete, he loves to play, he loves to play within our structure and not just do whatever he wants to do. Ninety percent of what he did today was through our structure and he's done so well that he's extremely effective in it."
South Carolina shots 41.4 percent overall, but only 33.3 percent in the second half. The Gamecocks were 5 for 20 from 3-point range.
Kentucky put the game away with a 7-0 run early in the second half.
Playing without point guard De'Aaron Fox, who suffered an ankle injury midway through the first half, Kentucky saw its lead dwindle to 48-44 before the scoring spurt.
Willis scored four of the seven points on two dunks, one a monstrous posterizing slam over Carolina's Sedee Keita, to push Kentucky on top 55-44. Carolina never got closer than eight points the rest of the way.
Calipari said the injury to Fox doesn't appear to be serious.
"It's not swelled. I think it might've been a stinger," Calipari said. "Something hit his ankle, so he's in a boot. But they said there's no swelling."
With South Carolina missing its point guard -- DJ Dozier was a late scratch with back spasms, Kentucky jumped out to leads of 7-0, 10-1 and 13-3 at the 15:53 mark of the first half.
"Yesterday in practice, towards the end PJ went up for a lay-up and it kind of looked awkward, but he didn't say anything," Martin said. "When we were on the plane on the way here, he started spasming up really bad. I've had seven knee surgeries and I'll take every one of them before I deal with a back spasm. It's an uncomfortable thing. We've got to keep treating it and hope that it kind of cools off and try and get him ready for Tuesday."
Gabriel paced the fast start with eight of Kentucky's first 13 points. The Wildcats made four of their first six shots.
Nearly five minutes in, South Carolina recorded one field goal attempt while committing four turnovers.
The lead ballooned to 23-6 at the 11:26 mark. Kentucky had made 9 of 13 field goals compared to the Gamecocks' 2-of-7 shooting to go with eight turnovers. The Wildcats held a 14-0 advantage in points off turnovers.
Just as Kentucky doubled the score at 30-15, South Carolina mounted its own 12-0 run to make it 30-27 with just over four minutes to play in the first half. Thornwell scored eight of the 12 points.
At halftime, Kentucky held a 47-38 advantage. The Wildcats shot 65.4 percent on 17-of-26 shooting. Monk led the way with 15 points, but Kentucky committed 12 turnovers -- six by sophomore guard Isaiah Briscoe.
South Carolina shot 52 percent on 13-of-25. Thornwell scored 20 of Carolina's 38 points in the first half. The Gamecocks committed 10 turnovers.
NOTES: Kentucky's string of 50 percent shooting games is its longest since 1983-84. ... Kentucky's 93.3 points per game prior to Saturday was second-best in the nation. South Carolina limited opponents to 59.4, which ranked fourth nationally. ... Kentucky averages 14.3 seconds per possession, eighth-fastest in the nation and second-best among Power Five schools before Saturday.
Top Game Performances
Sindarius Thornwell 34
Malik Monk 27
Justin McKie 4
Dominique Hawkins 7
Sindarius Thornwell 6
Derek Willis 7
Sindarius Thornwell 14
||Free Throws Made
Edrice Adebayo 8
Sedee Keita 2
Edrice Adebayo 2
Sindarius Thornwell 1
Isaac Humphries 2
Team Stats Summary