- Saturday, January 11 2003 -
South Carolina - 55 (Head Coach: Dave Odom) - [Unranked]
Kentucky - 62 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Ranked 18th by AP]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 32, South Carolina 19
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|Tennessee 74 - 71|||||Vanderbilt 74 - 52|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
Daniels keys Kentucky past South Carolina
In a game that was mostly ugly, Erik Daniels played some pretty basketball to lead Kentucky to a 62-55 victory over South Carolina in front of 23,510 fans at Rupp Arena.
Daniels tied a career-high with 19 points, 16 of which came inside the paint, to pace the Cats in scoring, but it was NBA-length three-pointer at the first half buzzer that capped a 25-6 UK run and put the Gamecocks away.
"I thought we had made a little headway," South Carolina Coach Dave Odom said. "Then Erik Daniels hits that three and sticks a dagger in our hearts. He was the difference. You're not going to say he'd (hit that shot), then he did. Part of the scouting report says he's not going to make that three, or even TAKE that three."
The long bomb gave UK a 32-19 halftime edge after the Cats (11-3, 2-0 SEC) fell behind 13-7 and then ripped off their run to take over the game. During that final 12:51 of the half, UK Coach Tubby Smith had the Cats switch to a 2-3 zone which absolutely stymied South Carolina. The Gamecocks (7-5, 1-1) made just three shots during the stretch, then fell behind further as UK stretched the lead to 21 six minutes into the second half.
"They had a lot to do with (playing zone)," Smith said. "We weren't playing good man-to-man defense early, so we went to (the zone) and stuck with it. We were able to keep full-court pressure without extending. It got to a point we were trying to make them use different options."
Still, as has been UK's M.O. in recent seasons, the Cats let the Gamecocks back into the game by making just four shots the final 14 minutes, but South Carolina could never get the lead under eight when trying to make its final run.
"I can't say we ever had a real chance to win the game at the end," Odom said.
What Odom can say is that Daniels dominated with his constant moving without the ball and passing around the baskets. Daniels had 13 points in the first half, then six more in the second half, while also adding six rebounds, a block, a steal and an assist in a career-high 34 minutes.
"Erik knows all the tricks of the trade," sophomore Chuck Hayes said. "I don't know how he does it, but he is always in the right place at the right time."
Hayes said teams will now have to find Daniels if they want to beat UK.
"They are going to know about Erik Daniels now," Hayes said. "Sooner or later, they are going to know. He is coming into his own."
Luckily for UK, it came against South Carolina, especially with many other Cats having off games. Keith Bogans had just 10 points and four turnovers, while Hayes went scoreless and grabbed just two rebounds.
UK countered with a strong defensive night, holding Carolina to a 38.3 percent shooting and a UK opponent season-low 55 points. Kerbrell Brown paced South Carolina with 19 and Carlos Powell added 17, but the rest of the Gamecocks were shut down.
Cliff Hawkins looks to make a move while defended by USC's Jarod Gerald