Kentucky matches best start under Calipari
No. 1 Kentucky beats South Carolina, improves to 19-0
Kentucky Cruises Past South Carolina
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Devin Booker scored 18 points, Aaron Harrison added 13 and No. 1 Kentucky matched its best start under coach John Calipari with a 58-43 victory over South Carolina on Saturday.
The Wildcats (19-0, 6-0 Southeastern Conference) pulled away with 14 straight points after the Gamecocks (10-8, 1-5) took their last lead at 24-23 with 4:31 in the opening half.
Kentucky’s lead never fell below double digits after that.
The Wildcats were 19-0 in 2010, Calipari’s first season in Kentucky when he had NBA standouts John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins. That run ended in this building with South Carolina’s 68-62 stunner. The sold out crowd was just as loud after Sindarius Thornwell’s 3-pointer put the Gamecocks out front.
Tyler Ulis started the comeback for Kentucky with a steal and basket before Booker made two fouls shots and a jam and the Wildcats were on their way.
Thornwell had 11 points for the Gamecocks, who shot 4 for 27 in the final 24 minutes.
Duane Notice, South Carolina’s leading scorer this season, was held to two points, nine fewer than his average, and missed all five field goal tries.
Booker, a freshman, finished one shy of his career high set twice, the previous time in the win over UCLA last month.
Kentucky was looking not to stumble at Colonial Life Arena as it has in the past.
This one seemed as big a mismatch with the Harrison twins and bevy of big bodies to control the struggling Gamecocks.
Still, it took until late in the opening half before the Wildcats’ talent and athleticism took control to score the final 11 points of the half.
Two steals led to Ulis’ basket and two foul shots by Booker. After Thornwell missed a shot, Andrew Harrison put a perfect pass right on the hands of a streaking Booker for another easy jam and a 29-24 lead.
Lyles added a dunk and Ulis closed the half with two foul shots for a 34-24 lead.
South Carolina went 0 for 4 with three turnovers in its scoreless stretch in the half.
Kentucky: The Wildcats have found their range from the 3-point line, hitting 68 of 153 (39 percent) over their past eight games. Kentucky has hit a higher rate in SEC games (43 of 98, 44 percent)
South Carolina: The Gamecocks fell to 1-11 against teams ranked No. 1 by The Associated Press.
Kentucky travels to Missouri on Thursday night.
South Carolina plays at LSU on Wednesday night.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press