Top-ranked Wildcats too hot for Gamecocks to tame

Travis Bell/SIDELINE CAROLINAIn a meeting of top-ten defenses, it would be No. 1 Kentucky (19-0, 6-0 SEC) that would win the day Saturday afternoon, beating South Carolina (10-8, 1-5) 58-43 in front of a capacity crowd at Colonial Life Arena.

The Gamecocks held their opponent to its lowest scoring output of the season, but a season-low shooting percentage on the offensive end would be the difference in the loss.

It was a track meet early on, with both sides pushing the pace on every possession. The Gamecocks would score the opening basket and held an 8-6 lead before Kentucky would use a 7-0 to go ahead 13-8 with 13:46 to go. It would hold the two-possession lead until back-to-back baskets from Mindaugas Kacinas and Demetrius Henry would pull the home side within one, 18-17.

A quick five-points from the `Cats pushed the lead back up to six, but Carolina would answer with a 7-0 run to give it its first lead in over 11 minutes. Two baskets in the paint from Laimonas Chatkevicius and Marcus Stroman started it, and a 3-pointer from Sindarius Thornwell would put an emphatic cap on it. It would be the team’s first attempt from deep all game, and his make would put the Gamecocks up 24-23.

The lead would not last long, as Kentucky finished the final 4:31 of the half with a 11-0 run to take a 34-24 lead into the halftime break. Carolina committed three turnovers and missed on six field goal attempts during the scoring drought.  Kentucky kept the Gamecocks at arm’s length the rest of the way.

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