All time ET and P.M.
5:20 – Not the greatest of memories in this building – the Colonial Life Arena – as it is where the Cats 19-0 record suffered its first blemish last season. However, as you can see in the photo gallery there is at least one fond memory here, as the media room is the place where the phone call from President Obama to the team was made during the afternoon of the game.
5:32 – Coach Cal and I tried to go to Maurice’s BBQ for lunch buffet. Little did we know that Maurice has several spots around Columbia and not all of them are big enough to accommodate a lunch buffet. After our third non-buffett Maurice’s, we settled on the gourmet stylings of The Waffle House. The good news on that is Coach had Waffle House the morning of the Louisville game as well.
5:52 – Last year, SC coach Darrin Horn came out in the pre-game to fire up the crowd. Guess he doesn’t feel they needed firing up today. Does appear to be a full house and SC has a large group of football recruits in town this weekend to take in the game.
5:49 – Lots of UK Blue in the crowd – the KFund brought a plane-load of 120 loyal donors and fans and there are several hundred more scattered throughout the 18,000-seat arena.
5:53 – One of the more telling quotes that came from Coach Cal this week was when he said that his better teams of the past would follow up a loss like the one suffered at Alabama with a pummeling of their next opponent. Let’s see how this team responds.
6:06 – Terrence will start this game as Doron returns to his 6th man role. Gamecocks very loose in pre-game intros and they were likewise in pre-game warm-ups. That’s usually the sign of a veteran team – but the Cocks are just as young as the Cats.
6:11 – Love Brandon’s energy and enthusiasm right off the top. Huddled the guys after he was fouled on breakaway and was screaming “Let’s Go!”
6:16 – You can see that Terrence has come out with some fire and passion – he showed that at shootaround too. Cats up 10-8 with 15:31 left in half – quick pace to this one.
6:19 – Merle Cox is being honored as a Legendary Gamecock Fan and it begs the question: Are only Cox allowed in that club? Okay, maybe it didn’t beg that question. But we had to ask anyway.
6:20 – Down goes Kansas – at home to Texas. Please understand the parity in college basketball folks. It’s a year with no true, dominant team although I do like Ohio State an awful lot.
6:30 – Two shot clock violations for Cocks in first 8 minutes of the game. That’s the kind of defense Coach Cal is demanding. With 11:47 left in half, UK up 18-12. The teams have combined for 10 turnovers to this points (4 for UK).
6:35 – Terrence with a monster take for the one hand jamb to put UK up 20-12. His selfishness was warranted there!!! Next possession DeAndre draws a charge call on Damontre Harris.
6:37 – Coach Cal was serious about giving Jarrod some run – he checks in for Brandon with just under 10 minutes left in half and give Brandon a 1 minute breather. Cocks double-teamed Jarrod but couldn’t force the turnover.
6:41 – Brandon 3-ball gives Cats a 26-15 lead with just over 8 minutes left in half. He has 9 to lead all scorers at this point (3 of 4 from field). Cats are plus-5 on the boards (12-7).
6:46 – Just after that timeout, Coach Cal went over to Jarrod and said, “Good job.” He knows he’ll need him again this half as both Doron and Josh have 2 fouls each. Sure enough he’s back in with 5:46 left in half.
6:48 – Cats are 16-8 on points in the paint. Terrence with another dunk but he came down awkward on his left ankle and gets attention from trainer Chris Simmons on the bench. He re-enters the game and seems to be okay.
7:00 – Cats finishing the half with both Jon Hood and Eloy Vargas on the floor and trying to maintain the 8-10 point lead which they do with the help of a Darius floater to end the half (the result of a Jarrod steal). Cats lead 36-26 at the break.
7:03 – The Ole Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier, the SEC Coach of the Year and some of his players being honored at halftime. Gotta love the Ole Ball Coach (sorry, but I do) – he’s stirring it up by saying they won two of the four championships they compete for each year: State (they won that by beating Clemson); SEC East (by beating Florida in Gainesville). They fell short of the SEC title and the national title. They do have the Freshman of the Year in Lattimore though and the fans love him. Why not? He’s a special one.
7:16 – HALFTIME STATS AND ANALYSIS: The Cats’ largest lead of the half was 11 points and they finished with a 10 point bulge, led by Terrence (10 points and 3 boards) and Brandon (11 points, 3 boards, 1 assist and 2 turnovers). UK’s energy was great and they were able to build the lead with both Doron (6 minutes) and Josh (11 minutes) on the bench. Play that way in the 2nd half and the Cats will be back on the winning track.
7:23 – Coach Cal trying to get DeAndre Liggins going in the 2nd half – he starts off with three shots after taking just one in first half, but misses all three. Cats start out on a 9-4 run with some more impressive defense and hustle at noth ends of the floor. Horn forced to use a timeout with 14:19 left in the game and his team trailing 45-30, its biggest deficit of the day. Adding to their problems – a technical on freshman guard Bruce Ellington and Brandon makes both FTs. Ellingotn with 4 fouls and 4 points.
7:39 – Darius really pouring it on and hitting runner after runner in the lane – leading the team with 18 points on 7 of 11 shooting from the field to go with 5 rebounds and a block. He does have 4 turnovers however.
7:43 – Cocks cut it to 12, 53-41 with under 8 to go. Let’s see how the Cats respond.
7:54 – They respond with 5 straight points from Brandon (two free throws and trey) to build it back to 17.
7:55 – Two really nasty dunks by the Cocks from Ramon Galloway and Sam Muldrow – both deserving of SportsCenter highlights but neither of which count for more than two points.
8:01 – The Herald-Leader has named John Wall as its Sportsman of the Year which is a very nice honor but again the question is begged: Did they just realize that 2010 ended?
8:04 – Huge chant of “Go Big Blue” goes up and the SC crowd tries to counter with booing. Bluing beats booing every time. Cats lead is cut to 11, 61-50 with 2:05 left in the game.
8:10 – Finishing out games is never easy with a young team and this one is no exception. SC cuts it to 5, 61-56 with 1:16 left and this place is as loud as it’s been all day. With :50.7 left in the game, Doron is fouled and goes to the line with chance to make it a 3 possession game. Makes the first and the second to make it 63-56. The Cats will escape and move to 3-2 in the SEC. It wasn’t pretty but it was spirited and it’s one to build on. UK shooting over 80 percent at the line today (23 of 27).