When the seeds are distributed for the NCAA Tournament in March, a loss at South Carolina in mid-January will stand out for the University of Kentucky.
Sprinkle in a few more Ls over the next month, and it won’t be a shocking Selection Sunday for the Wildcats and Big Blue Nation.
South Carolina on the road figured to be the easiest — or least dangerous — trip UK would take in January.
Instead, the angst was plentiful after UK got stunned at South Carolina with a perfectly placed 3-pointer off the glass as time expired.
Actually, the most truthful social media take was how many times John Calipari has lost in Columbia, South Carolina. Counting the 81-78 final Wednesday, that would be the fourth loss for Calipari since 2010.
The cosmic phrase “Selection Sunday” was being raised in full force during the late hours Wednesday night.
UK couldn’t play its way out of a terrible loss with this one. The Wildcats have now lost to KenPom.com Nos. 105, 109 and 248. Kentucky is No. 22 now in KenPom, which would translate to a 5 or 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Failing at South Carolina is the kind of defeat which does not build a favorable résumé on where to put your team on Selection Sunday.
There were social media issues with the foul calling. Those numbers were about even, really, and they weren’t as crucial as the Gamecocks’ late scoring.
South Carolina scored 56 points in the second half. With 10 minutes and change left, South Carolina had 40 points, total.
Those figures don’t say much about UK’s defense over those 20 minutes. The 56 points were as many as South Carolina scored in losses to Stetson, Houston, Tennessee and Wichita State.
Jermaine Couisnard, a South Carolina freshman, made the banked 3 for the win, and he also made plenty of other shots, too, on the way to 26 points.
“What hurt us was the pick-and-roll and we had Tyrese (Maxey) and he was hurt,” Calipari said. “He couldn’t move and he was hitting into that screen and our big wasn’t switching. The kid just shot layup, layup, layup. He shot four layups. And then we tried to switch it and Nick (Richards) let him get beside him and he shot a layup.”
Blown leads have become a bit too common for this UK team. It dropped a 14-point advantage in the second half Wednesday.
“This team doesn’t get that yet,” Calipari said of UK’s inability to protect leads. “When you get a chance to get somebody to 20, you do it. This team does not do it. We haven’t done it all year. Then all of a sudden we kind of break off or we break down defensively and ‘it’s not that big a deal.’ You’re not playing St. Aloysius. This is Division I, major college, power five. Every possession matters.”
South Carolina owned the glass, and offensive rebounding was a major factor for Frank Martin’s team.
South Carolina had 24 points in the paint and 11 second-chance points in the second half alone. It also scored 14 points off turnovers.
As you can see, nothing was pretty about UK’s mid-week SEC matchup.
And things can really get stinky for UK over the next four Saturdays.
One of the major problems with this was that there are more likely defeats coming. In fact, there are a few certain losses.
UK still has to go to Texas Tech, Auburn and Tennessee. The trip to Florida to close out the regular season is usually difficult.
The Wildcats start all this off with a trip to Arkansas on Saturday.
As they found out at South Carolina, nothing is a lock on the road now for the Wildcats.