Junior forward Chris Silva tied his career high of 27 points and collected eight rebounds, and South Carolina overcame a 14-point, second-half deficit to register a 76-68 triumph over No. 18 Kentucky on Tuesday at Columbia, S.C.
Senior guard Frank Booker scored 18 points for the Gamecocks (12-6, 3-3 Southeastern Conference), who won despite shooting just 37.7 percent from the field. Sophomore forward Maik Kotsar added 12 points as South Carolina improved to 7-1 at home.
Freshman forward Kevin Knox recorded 21 points and eight rebounds for Kentucky (14-4, 4-2). Freshman forward Nick Richards scored 12 points before fouling out for the Wildcats, who shot 44.9 percent from the field and committed 16 turnovers.
Ballyhooed Kentucky freshman forward Jarred Vanderbilt made his debut and had six points and five rebounds in 14 minutes. Vanderbilt had been sidelined since injuring his left foot during practice on Sept. 30.
The Wildcats were 1 of 11 from 3-point range to extend their NCAA record with at least one make to 1,031 consecutive games. Kentucky’s lone 3-pointer came by Knox with seven minutes left in the contest.
South Carolina dominated the final 13-plus minutes and used an 11-0 burst to take the lead for good.
Silva’s put-back and ensuing free throw cut Kentucky’s lead to 65-63 with 4:22 remaining, and senior guard Wesley Myers sped for a fast-break layup to tie the score 20 seconds later. Myers hit the go-ahead jumper with 3:25 left, and Kotsar added two free throws to finish the spurt and make it 69-65.
The Wildcats never got within two the rest of the way, and South Carolina made 5 of 6 free throws in the final 50 seconds to seal it.
Kentucky scored the first seven points of the second half as part of a 12-0 run that led to a 44-34 lead. The advantage reached 52-38 on a jumper by Richards with 13:25 to play.
Kentucky battled back from a nine-point halftime deficit to hold a 37-34 lead at the break.
The Gamecocks scored the game’s first seven points and led 21-12 on Booker’s two free throws.
The Wildcats responded with a 14-3 burst and took their first lead at 26-24 on a layup by Richards.
—Field Level Media