After the celebrations finally wound down in Columbia, Dana O'Neil caught up with South Carolina coach Darrin Horn on the phone. Here's Horn in his own words after his Gamecocks' 68-62 win over No. 1 Kentucky:
On Devan Downey: “Nothing Devan does surprises me anymore. See it every day. Thing about him, any coach would tell you this, you have confidence he’s going to do it because he shows up in practice every day and works so hard."
On the security blanket of having someone like Devan in a game like this: "Oh, it’s huge. You can’t win a game like this without a guy like him. He controlled the basketball on the offensive end this game. Everything positive that happened for us in the second half was the result of him controlling the ball, making something happen."
On his frontcourt: "We’ve been really close the last two games to doing what we saw tonight, not just winning but playing the way we needed to. We need our bigs to do something. We don’t have to have a double-digit scoring, double-digit rebounding guy, but they all did something and contributed. With a guy like Devan, if everyone else does it collectively, you have a chance.
On adjusting this season without Dominique Archie and Mike Holmes: "We’ve had to game plan specifically based on what we have for the opponent. We’re usually a system team. We’re going to do what we do regardless of who we’re playing. We can’t do that now with our personnel. So we’ve gone from 'system, system, system' to here’s what we have to do to win this game."
On his strategy for John Wall: "I don’t know if we did a lot. He still had 19. We told them we’re not going to eliminate anything. They’re so good. We wanted to limit their transitions and putbacks. It wasn’t about absolute tempo, but to get good shots and that we didn’t want them to get quick easy ones."
On the impact of beating No. 1: "I think it will be a shot in the arm for us. All the things we’ve been saying -- we’ve been pointing to the idea that if we do the right things, we can put ourselves in a position to beat anybody. Well, we just beat the No. 1 team in the country. That’s anybody.’’