Johnson Leads Gamecocks to First Win at Rupp Since 2009
LEXINGTON, K.Y. – 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 (8-8, 1-2) in 31 games at Kentucky (10-6, 1-3) and the first at Rupp Arena since January 2009.
Kentucky had its SEC-leading 28-game home win streak snapped in what has been a decidedly disappointing start to the season with its worst start in SEC play since 1986-87.
Gregory “GG” Jackson II added 16 points for the Gamecocks, who shot 48%, making 11 of 20 3-point attempts, outscoring the Wildcats 21-12 on second-chance points and surviving 15 turnovers.
Oscar Tshiebwe scored 19 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, his ninth double this season for Kentucky. CJ Fredrick added 14 points and Antonio Reeves 13, both off the bench. The Wildcats shot 51% but made just 3 of 10 from the arc and 7 of 14 from the line.
Kentucky was missing forward Jacob Toppin with a right shoulder injury and guard Cason Wallace left midway through the first half with a lower back issue. Both are double-figure scorers. Toppin’s status is day-to-day.
South Carolina led throughout and was up by 12 with 13 minutes remaining. Kentucky made a couple of runs at the Gamecocks and got within a point with 51 seconds to go after a 10-0 surge with Reeves and Fredrick hitting 3-pointers. Johnson then lost an inbounds pass out of bounds with 20.2 left, the fourth turnover during the Wildcats’ run. But Kentucky missed a pair of 3-point attempts to end the game.
Both teams were coming off lopsided losses to top-10 teams, Kentucky falling to Alabama 78-52 and South Carolina losing to Tennessee 85-42. But only the Gamecocks responded at the start, taking a 21-6 lead in the first seven minutes and a 42-32 halftime edge after shooting 57% with Johnson scoring 16 points.
- Carolina made a season high 11 threes on 55.0 percent shooting (11-for-20) and outscored Kentucky 33-9 from behind the arc.
- Tonight’s victory snapped a 28-game home winning streak by the Wildcats, the second longest win streak in the nation.
- Tonight’s win was also just Carolina’s third all-time at Rupp Arena since joining the SEC in 1992. The 1997 SEC Championship team won in Lexington to clinch the outright league title and the Gamecocks’ last victory at Rupp came on was Jan. 31, 2009, a 78-77 victory in which Zam Fredrick had 24 points and Devan Downey had 23.
- The victory also marks the first SEC win of the Lamont Paris era in Columbia.
- Meechie Johnson had a career high 26 points on 9-of-16 shooting including six triples (second time this season with 6 3s). He extends his double figure scoring streak to nine consecutive games and led the team with six rebounds and a game high six assists.
- Per ESPN Stats & Info, Johnson became the first South Carolina player with 25, 5, & 5 in a game since Gamecock great Sindarius Thornwell in 2017 vs. Ole Miss.
- Three players scored in double figures for Carolina: Johnson (26), Gregory “GG” Jackson II (16), and Hayden Brown (11). The trio combined for 53 of Carolina’s 71 points.
- The Gamecocks outscored Kentucky 21-12 in second chance points, capitalizing on 15 offensive rebounds.
- South Carolina (8-8, 1-2 SEC) returns to Colonial Life Arena to face Texas A&M (10-5, 2-0 SEC) on Saturday at 6 p.m. (ET). Courtney Lyle (pxp) and Joe Kleine (analyst) will be on the call for the SEC Network broadcast.