- Saturday, February 1 2003 -
Kentucky - 87 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Ranked 7th by AP]
South Carolina - 69 (Head Coach: Dave Odom) - [Unranked]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 57, South Carolina 32
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|Alabama 63 - 46|||||Florida 70 - 55|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
UK blitzes Carolina, ready for Florida
COLUMBIA, S. Car. Ð Just days before a titanic regular-season showdown with Florida, the stage was set up perfectly for Kentucky to overlook South Carolina and lay an egg in Columbia.
Showing yet another sign of maturity, UK used a near carbon copy of its first matchup with Carolina, using a late first half blitz to turn a close contest into a blowout.
Despite a sometimes lackluster second half, the Cats cruised to an 87-69 victory at the brand-new Carolina Center, completing a season sweep of the Gamecocks in front of 14,922 fans.
"In some ways, this game was not unlike the one in Rupp," South Carolina Coach Dave Odom said. "I may be a point or two off, but (UK) ran off like a 16-point run at about the eight minute mark. It happened again."
Leading just 23-22 with 9:15 left in the first half, UK (16-3, 6-0 SEC) went on a 29-6 spurt over the next seven minutes, creating an insurmountable 52-28 advantage. Keith Bogans then buried a three-pointer from the top of the key with four seconds left in the half to give UK a 57-32 lead. During the run, UK scored on 14 of 17 possessions and forced Carolina (7-10, 1-6) to turn the ball over five consecutive times.
"The worst culprit were the turnovers, which resulted in baskets for them," Odom said. "We put ourselves in such an insurmountable hole at the half, it was hard to come back."
It was an odd game for UK, which didn't get a particularly good defensive effort, allowing South Carolina to shoot 51.9 percent for the game, including 57 percent in the first half despite holding a 25-point lead. Instead, the Cats used an 18-7 first half rebounding edge, including a 21-2 lead in second chance points to bury Carolina.
"We did a better job (rebounding)," UK Coach Tubby Smith said. "But we get one thing fixed and another comes loose."
Smith was talking about the Cats' lack of focus during the second half, even though the Gamecocks never seriously threatened.
"It shouldn't be (hard to focus), but it is," Smith said. "Psychologically, when you look up, it's hard not to think the game is over. You think things are under control."
Even so, UK dominated the struggling Gamecocks, especially in the paint, where UK scored 52 points. The Cats' frontline of Erik Daniels, Marquis Estill, Chuck Hayes and Jules Camara combined for 47 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists. Estill led the way with 18 points, while Hayes had a double-double (12 and 10) and Daniels added 14 points and five assists.
"We have a very effective inside game," Smith said. "Once we started attacking the basket, we shot a pretty high percentage."
UK also got a big game from Bogans, who scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds despite being mercilessly razzed by the Carolina fans. The Gamecocks were led by Chuck Eidson's 17 points and six assists, while Kerbrell Brown added 15 points.
Marquis Estill (#50) shoots around South Carolina's Rolando Howell (#55)