Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Reactions to South Carolina's win from around the web

I don't know if you've heard, but Kentucky lost last night to South Carolina, meaning that for the second time in an many weeks, the No. 1 team in the country dropped their first game as the No. 1 team in the country.

As you might expect, quite a few people had something to say about this game. We will update this as the day goes on and more columns are posted, but here is what some of the college hoops media thinks about this upset.

Jeff Goodman of FOXSports: "No one is ready to handle the bull's-eye. A year ago, it was North Carolina and everyone else. Two years ago, there were four elite teams in a class of their own to begin the season — and the same quartet made the Final Four. In 2007, it was the defending champion Florida Gators who were considered a lock to repeat with everyone back in the fold. This year, it's wide open. All you had to do was watch the nation's final unbeaten, Kentucky, go down Tuesday night to a mediocre South Carolina team that lost to Wofford earlier this season. A South Carolina team that entered the game 11-8 overall, 2-3 in SEC play and without its second-best player, Dominique Archie. Or see Texas, which held the No. 1 ranking for one week — or more accurately, one day — get swept on the road by Kansas State and UConn. That's a Huskies team that was riding a three-game losing streak and was without its coach. Or watch Kansas, the consensus No. 1 team entering the season, go into Knoxville earlier this month and return with a loss against a Tennessee team that had just six scholarship players. It was the same Vols group that was blasted by 22 out in Los Angeles to USC."

Andy Katz of "South Carolina was still dealing with Saturday's buzzer-beating loss at Florida when the Gamecocks were hit with another zinger late that night. The players and staff, albeit separately, took note of the media's breakdown of when 19-0 Kentucky would lose its first game. They knew Texas had gone down again, this time to Connecticut. They knew Kentucky had throttled Arkansas, opening up the No. 1 spot. They knew they were next for the Wildcats on Tuesday night at home. Yet, they felt like that trip to Columbia was omitted from any on-air discussion -- mostly at this network -- about when the Wildcats would lose next, with games against Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Mississippi State seen as the biggest threats."

Dana O'Neil of "Of course this is as much about Kentucky as it is South Carolina. The Wildcats, who had survived by a whisper five times this season, did not play well from the opening tip. They were disjointed and sloppy. Wall finished with 19, but as the game got close and you kept expecting him to take over, it never happened. Perhaps more telling, this team of overachieving freshmen were left on an island by their upperclassmen and drowned. The Kentucky newcomers, which includes JUCO transfer Darnell Dodson, scored 57 of Kentucky's 62 points. Patrick Patterson represented the older generation with the other five. The guys with experience, the ones presumably more equipped to handle hostile gyms and the newly minted No. 1 ranking, were absentee parents, leaving the kids to figure out everything on their own."

Pat Forde of "Cousins is like Downey, only in reverse. Both do things that defy their size. Downey’s ability to drive and score against players more than a foot taller is amazing. Cousins’ ability to spin, float and score at 6-foot-11, 260 pounds is similarly amazing."

Gary Parrish of "As you probably heard, President Obama called the Kentucky basketball team Tuesday to thank them for organizing a telethon that raised more than $1 million for Haiti. He referred to John Wall as "all-star" and told the team that "the way [they] were going" indicated they might end up at the White House accepting congratulations for winning a national title. President Obama then asked who Kentucky played next. John Calipari told him South Carolina, at South Carolina. "I think you should be alright," President Obama said. "But there is that tendency once you get to be No. 1 to start letting down a little bit. So you guys stay focused." Roughly nine hours later, Darnell Dodson missed an open layup in a one-possession game with a little more than five minutes to play. No focus. It seemed to foreshadow the conclusion, which was Kentucky's first loss -- a loss to a team that entered with an 11-8 record, a loss to a team that lost its second-best player (Dominique Archie) to a knee injury five games into the season."

C. Aluka Berry of "If he had not done so already, Downey forever stamped his name in USC's basketball annals. He may some day see his jersey No. 2 hanging in the rafters, and he may go down as the most explosive package of All-American playmaker the school has ever seen. Even if none of that happens, though, he forever will be remembered for scheming, directing and orchestrating USC's first victory in its 102-year history against a top-ranked team."

John Clay of " It can be a whole different view from the mountaintop. When you're No. 1, and you're getting pats on the back and calls from the president, the air can get a little thinner up there. Legs grow a little shaky. Head gets a little fuzzy. You can lose your focus. Example: Not quite three minutes into the second half Tuesday night of top-ranked Kentucky's 68-62 loss to South Carolina, Patrick Patterson didn't get to a 50-50 ball, and Cats Coach John Calipari pogoed off the bench and yelled for Perry Stevenson to get in the game. Stevenson stared straight ahead. Calipari screamed, "Now!!!!!!" Stevenson fumbled with the zipper of his warm-up on his way to the scorer's table. Exasperated, Calipari yelled for Daniel Orton to replace Stevenson, who had not even yet replaced Patterson. It was that kind of night."

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