With the disappointing loss to Arkansas Thursday night, Kentucky had very little time to recover having to travel to South Carolina to take on the Gamecocks tomorrow evening.
I'm not going to write about how damaging Thursday's loss was because if you're a Kentucky fan, you're well aware of that. But I will say that tomorrow night's game just became the most "must win" game of the season because a loss in Columbia would spell DISASTER for the Cats.
The Gamecocks come into the game with a 10-18 (3-12 SEC) record and are currently on a three game losing streak with those losses coming at the hands of Arkansas, Georgia and Auburn so it's needless to say that tomorrow night will be another "T-shirt game". It will be another hostile environment as every other road game has been so far this year.
Here's some stats on the Gamecocks so you can see what the Cats will be facing down in Columbia...
(CLICK TO ENLARGE)
Once again, Kentucky will have to guard the three as there are a couple of guys (Brenton Williams & Tyrone Johnson) who can shoot it from deep. Rebounding and turnovers will also be something the Cats will have to take care of as well, especially on the road as scoring opportunities will not come easy.
Calipari said in his interview after the Arkansas game that there was a couple of guys "who didn't show up", that is something that will need to be fixed and quickly as there is only two games left in the regular season (not counting tomorrows game) and one of those is a date with Florida in Gainesville. Kentucky's tournament resume is average at best and that's being generous. The only quality win is over Louisville and with that win coming at Rupp, it's not as impressive as it seems.
If the Cats can manage to go 2-1 (winning at Florida is possible, but not very likely) over the course of the next three games (South Carolina, Alabama and Florida) and win one or two in the SEC Tournament, they could possibly stay within the 5-7 seed range in the NCAA Tournament. If Kentucky loses at Florida and drops one of the other two, they may need to make the championship game of the SEC Tournament to try and avoid a possible 10 seed in the Big Dance.
It will be interesting to see how Kentucky responds to the loss Thursday night with only one day to get things ironed out. Will they come out with a sense of urgency and beat USC as they should? Or will they come out flat and allow the Gamecocks gain early momentum and spend the rest of the game fighting for their post-season lives? I guess we'll know the answer around this time tomorrow night...
The game is set to tip at 6:00pm tomorrow night on ESPN.