South Carolina Basketball: 3 thumbs up, 3 thumbs down from domination of Kentucky

South Carolina basketball dominated Kentucky for the biggest win over a top-10 team in program history.

South Carolina basketball guard Jacobi Wright
South Carolina basketball guard Jacobi Wright / Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
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South Carolina Basketball vs. Kentucky Wildcats:
Thumbs Up 1: Lamont Paris

There is no other way to put it: Lamont Paris coached circles around John Calipari on Tuesday night.

Paris, who is not normally known for his in-game coaching but is known as a developer and a leader of men, was aggressive with the grease board against Kentucky. He had a clear game plan to attack certain players when they came in the game (namely Zvonimir Ivisic), and he had multiple really nice out-of-bounds plays drawn up that killed the Wildcats' suspect defense.

Coach Paris subbed well, allowing Josh Gray and BJ Mack to stay fresh, and he rode Jacobi Wright when he had the hot hand shooting the basketball. When things needed to settle down, he called on his veteran point guard Ta'Lon Cooper to run the show. When the Gamecocks needed to put their foot on UK's collective throats, he ordered his team to attack.

Carolina ran a lot of pick-and-roll to compliment their usual high volume of pick-and-pop, as well, and the switch seemed to fluster the Big Blue defense.

South Carolina Basketball vs. Kentucky Wildcats:
Thumbs Up 2: Ta'Lon Cooper

There were several Gamecocks who were really good against Kentucky, but the best player on the floor was Ta'Lon Cooper. He did it all in the dominant USC victory, scoring 20 points (on just 11 shots!!!), dishing out 5 assists, pulling down 6 rebounds, blocking 2 shots, and playing really solid defense on Kentucky's guards.

The way Cooper got to his 20 points so efficiently was impressive. He took some really tough shots at the end of the shot clock and smoothly eviscerated Big Z after a switch on two occasions. When Jacobi Wright's hot shooting touch faded and typical high scorers Meechie Johnson and BJ Mack were a little off, Cooper carried the load.

South Carolina Basketball vs. Kentucky Wildcats:
Thumbs Up 3: Big Men

Kentucky has three 7-footers on their roster who would start on almost every team in the country. You would have no idea that was the case if Tuesday night was the only Wildcat game you've seen this season.

Josh Gray and Collin Murray-Boyles were dominant forces in the paint, holding Aaron Bradshaw to just 3 shot attempts in 21 minutes, Ugonna Onyenso to 1 attempt in 10 minutes, and Big Z to 3 attempts in 10 minutes. Tre Mitchell had some success down low, but most of his good work came after switches or when Stephen Clark was in the game.

Gray, in just 11 minutes, had 9 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 dunks (2 on Big Z). Murray-Boyles scored 6 points, pulled down 9 boards, dished out 5 assists, blocked 3 shots, had 2 steals, and had a big dunk of his own over Big Z. BJ Mack didn't have his best night as a scorer but made two 3-pointers in the 2nd half and brought in 7 rebounds.

The Gamecocks held Kentucky to 8-21 on layup attempts. Whew.