Any hopes of South Carolina somehow knocking off No. 1 Kentucky in Rupp Arena Saturday afternoon were quickly forgotten as the Wildcats pounded South Carolina 77-43.
The Gamecocks (12-12, 3-9 SEC) were held to just two points in the first six minutes of play, allowing Kentucky to jump out to a 12-2 lead during the dry spell. South Carolina missed eight straight shots during that span.
South Carolina made only five field goals in the first half, finishing the period with an abysmal 20.8 percent (5-24) field goal percentage.
Sophomore guard Sindarius Thornwell led the Gamecocks with 20 points, doing most of his damage through free throws. Thornwell sank nine of 11 attempts from the line.
The next highest scorer Saturday afternoon was sophomore guard Duane Notice, who notched six points.
South Carolina finished the game shooting 23.6 percent from the field, its second-worst figure in its last 15 seasons. The only worse performance came in January against Kentucky when the Gamecocks managed only 22.6 percent.
Kentucky (25-0, 12-0 SEC) used its size to dominate South Carolina inside and on the glass, pulling down 45 rebounds compared to the Gamecocks’ 21. The Wildcats also had 18 more points in the paint than South Carolina did.
Kentucky’s 25-0 start to the season ties the 1953-54 Wildcats for the best start in program history. One more win by the Wildcats would set a new program record for best start to the season.
Freshman guard Marcus Stroman did not suit up for the second straight game due to a throat infection. The team welcomed back sophomore guard Justin McKie after missing five games because of a concussion. McKie played five minutes, drawing a personal foul and collecting one rebound.
Overall, there have only been three Southeastern Conference games this season in which a team has shot less than 25 percent. All three have involved South Carolina in some way. The Gamecocks’ offense shot 22.6 percent and 23.6 percent in its two games against Kentucky, but their defense held Georgia to 22 percent in January.
South Carolina travels to Georgia Tuesday.