Stunner at Rupp, #Gamecocks knock off Kentucky 71-68 (AUDIO)

Meechie Johnson hit 6 three-pointers in the win at Kentucky (Gamecock Athletics)

Over their years in the SEC, some very good USC teams have gone to Rupp Arena at Kentucky with the feeling they were going to leave with a victory. Only two did so, before Tuesday night. A Gamecock team coming off their worse loss ever at the Colonial Life Arena somehow regained their balance and upset the Wildcats 71-68 for their first SEC win and first league victory for first-year coach Lamont Paris.

This was no accidental win by the Gamecocks. True, Kentucky has played well below their high standards to this point in the season now with three losses in four SEC games. But USC took the fight to UK right from the opening tip and did not relent.

The Gamecocks never trailed as they jumped out to a 21-6 lead in the game’s first seven minutes. They hit four-three pointers during that opening run, a sign of things to come. They would hit 11 of 20 from deep for the night.

USC led 42-32 at the half and they were still up by 11 points 69-58 with 3:58 to play. Fighting the tough UK defense and themselves, the Gamecocks had to hold on down the stretch. The Wildcats ran off 10 straight points to pull to within 69-68 with :51 to play.

That’s when one of the smallest players on the court made the biggest play for the Gamecocks. Meechie Johnson missed a three-pointer, but guard Jacobi Wright grabbed the rebound and was fouled on the follow shot by Cat’s All-American forward Oscar Tshiebwe. Wright nailed both shots for a 71-68 lead with :31 to play.

Five-seconds later Wright came up with a steal and Paris called a time out. But Johnson lost the handle on the in-bounds pass and the ball bounced out of bounds giving Kentucky one more opportunity. The Wildcats put up a pair of three-point shots but both missed and the Gamecocks claimed just their third win ever at Rupp Arena and their first since 2009. They also broke Kentucky’s 28 game home winning streak.

The Gamecocks played with much more effort than in their previous outing, evidenced by their 15 offensive rebounds their turned into 21 second chance points.

Johnson led USC with a career high 26 points, including 6 three-pointers. Johnson also handed out 5 assists. GG Jackson, who failed to score in the blowout loss to Tennessee last Saturday, bounced back with 16 points and 3 rebounds. Tshiebwe led Kentucky with 19 points and 12 boards.

The Gamecocks are now 8-8 overall and 1-2 in the SEC. They will host Texas A&M Saturday night. Kentucky falls to 10-6 overall and 1-3 in the league and will play at Tennessee Saturday.


USC postgame press conference

(Lamont Paris, Meechie Johnson, Hayden Brown)

Kentucky coach John Calipari postgame press conference

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