If ever a basketball game was over at halftime, this one was.
Top ranked Kentucky built a 52-25 halftime lead, largely on uncontested alley-oop dunks to a variety of their talented big men, and went on to an 86-52 victory over USC Saturday night at a Colonial Life Arena that more often than not sounded like Rupp Arena.
Thousands of Kentucky fans filled the usually empty seats at the CLA to give the Wildcats a home court feeling, and they responded in kind with one of their most lopsided wins of the season. Kentucky improved to 23-1 overall and 9-0 in the SEC. USC fell to 9-13 and 1-7.
The Wildcats took advantage of their superior size and athleticism with 8 first half dunks, some on fast breaks, others on lobs over the defense in their half court offense.
AUDIO: John Calipari, Anthony Davis & Terrence Jones post game news conference
Kentucky jumped to a quick 12-3 lead but USC hung around for about the first ten minutes. The Gamecocks trailed 25-18 with 10:33 to play in the half, but the Wildcats went on an 11-0 run for a 36-18 lead and never let up from there.
The only second half drama was whether UK star freshman Anthony Davis would record only the second triple-double in school history, and if USC would suffer it’s worst defeat of the modern era. Neither happened. Davis finished with 22 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists. He was removed from the game with 4:36 left after taking a hard fall.
And the 34 point margin of defeat fell short of the 47 point loss for USC at Syracuse in 1999 under Eddie Fogler, but it was the Gamecocks’ worst defeat in their nearly four full seasons under Darrin Horn.
AUDIO: Darrin Horn post game press conference
AUDIO: Malik Cooke & Damien Leonard post game news conference
Four Wildcats scored in double figures with Davis leading the way with his 22 points. Davis hit 9 of 10 from the floor and 4 of 5 from the line. Doron Lamb added 18 points on 6 of 7 shooting including 3 of 3 from behind the three point line.
Damien Leonard led USC with a career high 19 points including 4 three pointers. Anthony Gills was the only other Gamecock in double figures with 10. The play of Damontre Harris was one other bright spot for USC as he contributed 6 rebounds and 4 blocks.
USC returns to action Wednesday at Tennessee. Kentucky has a Tuesday night showdown at home against Florida.