The struggle continued into the second half, as Kentucky just looked dejected and mentally checked out. Easy fast break layups were being missed and their defense looked suspect at best. Waiting for leadership to step up on this team, Willie Cauley-Stein tried his best to get this team to rally. Clapping his hands and yelling at the other players, he was doing everything he could to get this team to respond to being down 16 points. The Wildcats were able to cut the lead to 12 at the under-12 timeout.
After a culmination of things on the sideline, John Calipari picked up his second technical foul and was tossed from the game with just over 10 minutes to go in the half. The team used their coach getting tossed as motivation to try and mount a comeback. The under-8 timeout came with the Wildcats beginning to show some life. They were down 10, 55-45, with just under seven and a half minutes left to go in the game.
The Wildcats open up out of the break with a three that cut the lead to seven. Going back and forth over the next few minutes, the Wildcats looked to break out and shut down the Gamecocks on the defensive end. Heading into the under-4 timeout, Kentucky was trailing South Carolina by five points. Coming out of the under-4 timeout, Kentucky gets an open look and Andrew Harrison hits the three. That cut the lead to three, 59-56, with 3:11 left in the game.
The end was back and forth, Kentucky staying in that one to two possession range. That is, until the sequence happened. Harrison hit a three. James Young forced a turnover to Alex Poythress. Poythress got the ball to Julius Randle. Randle hit the bucket, got the foul, and hit the free throw. That series of events cut the South Carolina lead, which was 16 points, down to one with only 22 seconds left. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, that’s as close as they’d get. South Carolina won 72-67.
That’s it for the 2nd half recap. Stay tuned for a longer recap later tonight.