South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Kentucky Wildcats Pick & Prediction JANUARY 23rd 2024

No. 6 Kentucky has added another key weapon to its arsenal as it heads on the road this week starting with Tuesday’s Southeastern Conference matchup with South Carolina at Columbia, S.C.

Zvonimir Ivisic, a 7-foot-2 freshman from Croatia, made his collegiate debut for the Wildcats (14-3, 4-1 SEC) on Saturday against Georgia after the NCAA ruled him eligible earlier in the day.

He came off the bench and played 16 minutes in the Wildcats’ 105-96 victory over the Bulldogs, scoring 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting, including 3-for-4 from 3-point range.

“We were excited, we were all happy for him,” teammate D.J. Wagner said. “Between how much work he’s been putting in and how bad he wanted to play with us and how bad we wanted him to play, we were all happy.

“He definitely deserves it. He’s been working very hard, and he’s been working a lot. It showed (Saturday).”

Ivisic was one of five players in double figures for the Wildcats, who posted their second straight double-digit home win after an overtime loss at Texas A&M on Jan. 13. The first was a 90-77 victory on Wednesday over Mississippi State.

Tre Mitchell led with 23 points and Antonio Reeves added 21 as the Wildcats shot 61.9 percent from the field to overcome Georgia’s 50-percent effort.

Ivisic conceded he was “nervous” waiting in the locker room before the game and then sitting on the bench for the first four minutes of play.

“When I got in, I was cool,” he said.

In addition to his shooting and scoring, Ivisic also had three blocks, two assists and two steals to offset two turnovers.

“We were just so happy for him because we know how the process has been for him and what that can do to somebody’s mental,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “On top of that, we do add another really good player to our team that gives us even more depth.”

The Gamecocks could test that depth.

Though Kentucky leads the all-time series 54-14, the teams have split the last six meetings, including South Carolina home wins in 2020 and 2018.

The Gamecocks (15-3, 3-2) bounced back from a loss to Georgia at home early last week with a solid showing at Arkansas. They led the Razorbacks from start to finish in their 77-64 victory. topping the 50 percent mark from the field for the first time this season in league play.

B.J. Mack led four double-figure scorers with 18 points and sophomore Zach Davis scored a career-high 12 in starting in place of injured forward Myles Stute. Collin Murray-Boyles and Ta’Lon Cooer scored 11 each as the Gamecocks had 20 assists on 28 made baskets.

Coach Lamont Paris labeled the win a “great team” effort.

“Everybody contributed,” Paris said. “Guys came in for just three or four minutes even and did some really good stuff. Had some really good energy they brought to the team.”

While Kentucky is hitting the road, the Gamecocks will be at home their next two games. After the Wildcats visit, they will host Missouri on Saturday afternoon. Kentucky will visit Arkansas that night.

–Field Level Media

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