Story from Kentucky Sports Information:
Terrence Jones hit his first eight shots to finish with 20 points and No. 2 Kentucky beat South Carolina 79-64 on Saturday in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.
The Wildcats (15-1, 1-0) have won seven straight and came in as the preseason favorite to win the SEC for the 45th time. They used an 11-0 run to end the first half to take a comfortable lead against South Carolina.
It was the third loss this season for South Carolina (8-7, 0-1) against a team ranked No. 1 or No. 2 after previous losses to North Carolina and Ohio State.
Damien Leonard scored 15 points as the Gamecocks’ four-game winning streak ended.
AUDIO: Darrin Horn post game press conference
Jones is returning to form after he dislocated the pinky finger on his left, shooting hand on Dec. 17 against Chattanooga. He missed two games after the injury and had a combined 21 points over the next three before breaking out Saturday. His only miss from the field came with 40 seconds left.
Kentucky doubled up the Gamecocks when Jones scored on the first possession of the second half to make it 36-18 and the Wildcats took its first 20-point lead, 40-20, on a 3 by Doron Lamb as the Wildcats’ overpowered the Gamecocks with their athleticism.
While South Carolina struggled at times against Kentucky’s full-court press, the Wildcats easily broke the Gamecocks’ pressure and finished the play when Kidd-Gilchrist set up an alley-oop for Davis.
The Gamecocks cut it to 62-50 on Leonard’s jumper with 7:40 left, but Kentucky answered with an 8-0 run to seal it.
South Carolina’s Malik Cooke scored 11 points, while Anthony Gill and Damontre Harris had 10 apiece. Lamb had 10 points for the Wildcats.
Kentucky has won four straight in the series since losing in Columbia when the Wildcats were ranked No. 1 two seasons ago.
South Carolina cut it 21-17 on Gill’s jumper with 5:01 left in the first, but the Gamecocks failed to hit another field goal the rest of the half as Kentucky closed on an 11-0 run to lead 34-18 at the break by dominating on both ends.
In one sequence, Jones hit a 3 from the left wing and freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist helped force a turnover from Leonard and popped up to ask the Rupp Arena crowd for more noise.
On the final play of the half, Teague couldn’t set up a play and shook off a screen to drive into the paint, where he missed a contested layup. Davis was right there to clean up the miss, finishing with a slam and leaving the court to a standing ovation.
Davis’ seven blocks gives him 74 for the season, sixth on the school’s single-season list with half a season to play.
Bruce Ellington, the Gamecocks’ two-sport star, scored a touchdown in South Carolina’s 54-3 rout of Kentucky on Oct. 8, but had no such luck against Kentucky’s much stiffer defense on the court. He missed his first eight shots and finished with eight points.
The Gamecocks haven’t won on the road against an opponent ranked fifth or higher since beating then-No. 3 Kentucky on March 2, 1997.