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

South Carolina basketball dismantled the Kentucky Wildcats to remain the country's only undefeated team.

South Carolina basketball forward Ashlyn Watkins dunking against Kentucky
South Carolina basketball forward Ashlyn Watkins dunking against Kentucky / Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
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South Carolina Basketball vs. Kentucky Wildcats
Thumbs Up 1: Kamilla Cardoso

Kamilla Cardoso was really good on Monday. She played just 22 minutes (and the last few of those were after Coach Staley called the dogs off), but she had 12 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 blocks. Those rebounds and blocks all came in the 1st half and were enough to lead all players in the game. She went 6-9 from the field and added 3 assists (all in the 1st half, as well). Even above the blocked shots, she was elite defensively, helping stifle Ajae Petty to just 2 points and limit UK to 6-22 on layup tries.

Frankly, the Brazilian post player could have named her numbers against Kentucky. If she and Coach Staley had wanted her to, she could have gone for 20 points and 20 rebounds against the 'Cats. This locked-in version of Kamilla Cardoso will be needed as the season turns into the postseason in March.

South Carolina Basketball vs. Kentucky Wildcats
Thumbs Up 2: Shooting

Carolina has been an elite shooting team for most of this year, and that continued on Monday. From 3, the Gamecocks shot 10-17 (despite a 1-4 night from elite shooter Bree Hall), and they finished the game at 59% from inside the arc and outside of it. Te-Hina Paopao continued her streak of multiple 3-pointers made (every game this season), and MiLaysia Fulwiely and Tessa Johnson both made their first three perimeter jumpers.

The outside excellence paired with paint proficiency is what makes Dawn Staley's team so dangerous on offense. 8 Gamecocks shot better than 50%, and two of them who didn't are not part of the typical rotation.

South Carolina Basketball vs. Kentucky Wildcats
Thumbs Up 3: Perimeter Defense Is Back

After an average-at-best defensive performance against Missouri, the Carolina D was elite against Kentucky. Where they failed for stretches against the Tigers (mainly on the perimeter), they were elite once against the Wildcats.

Big Blue shot just 4-18 from behind the 3-point line, and they gave the ball away 24 times, including 19 from their guards and wings. The defensive rotations and perimeter help were significantly better on Monday than they were last week. If the Gamecocks can play this level of defense, their offense is good enough that they will be almost impossible to beat at their best.