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Cats follow up Alabama thumping with listless performance in Rupp against South Carolina, fall 71-68

South Carolina Kentucky Basketball
James Crisp/AP
FR6426 AP
Kentucky's Chris Livingston (24) loses the ball between South Carolina's Gregory Jackson II (23) and Hayden Brown (10) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lexington, Ky., Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

Despite being favored by double digits, Tuesday night’s game against South Carolina was an uphill climb for Kentucky. The Cats started off slowly and spent the rest of the game trying to catch up. They never did.

Meechie Johnson hit six 3-pointers and scored a career-high 26 points to lead South Carolina over Kentucky 71-68, winning at Rupp Arena for the
first time in 14 years and giving coach Lamont Paris his first SEC victory. The win was just the third for the Gamecocks in 31 games at Kentucky and the first at Rupp Arena since January 2009. Kentucky had
its SEC-leading 28-game home win streak snapped and is off to its worst start in SEC play since 1986-87. Gregory “GG” Jackson II added 16 points for the Gamecocks. Oscar Tshiebwe scored 19 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, his ninth double this season for Kentucky.

A spectator was escorted from Rupp Arena during the first half of the game after holding up a sign that said “Please go to Texas,” referring to speculation about Wildcats coach John Calipari as a candidate to coach the Longhorns. The unidentified man in the lower bowl held up the sign for several minutes before arena security arrived following complaints from other fans.

Kentucky basketball spokesperson Deb Moore said afterward the man was given the choice of putting the sign away but refused, and chose to leave. Texas
has reportedly contacted Calipari about its coaching vacancy.

The Wildcats travel to Knoxville on Saturday to take on the Tennessee Volunteers.