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Fast start gets Kentucky past South Carolina

Feb 8, 2007 - 6:07 AM LEXINGTON, Kentucky (Ticker) -- Tre Kelley and South Carolina shot the lights out in the second half against Kentucky. Unfortunately for the Gamecocks, the Wildcats already had the game firmly in hand.

Kelley turned in a strong individual performance but it was not enough to overcome the balance of Kentucky as the 18th-ranked Wildcats posted a 95-89 Southeastern Conference victory.

Bobby Perry scored 12 of his 18 points and Joe Crawford added 10 in the first half as Kentucky (18-5, 7-2 SEC East) jumped out a 20-5 lead and pushed the advantage to 50-28 at the break.

Kentucky rolled to an 87-49 victory at South Carolina in the first meeting on January 16, the Gamecocks' most lopsided home defeat since a 64-11 loss to Wake Forest on February 20, 1915.

"Congratulate Kentucky, they played extremely well, particularly in the first half," South Carolina coach Dave Odom said. "To start the game was almost a mirror image of what happened down in Columbia."

This one seemed to be going the same way as the Wildcats extended the lead to 63-35 on a three-point play by Ramel Bradley with 16:23 to go. But Kelley and South Carolina went on runs of 12-0 and 6-0 and scored 61 points in the second half to make the final score respectable.

"It was another Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type of performance," Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said. "It's something that we've dealt with regularly. I am hoping we can put together a complete game."

Kelley scored a career-high 36 points for the Gamecocks (12-10, 2-7 East), who got within five in the closing seconds. He was 13-of-25 from the field, including 4-of-10 from the arc.

"It means nothing to me when we lose the game," Kelley said. "We played hard and fought back, and that's a good sign."

"I can't say enough about Tre Kelley, he's one of my favorite players," Smith said. "I say it all the time, if his team were better, I think he would be MVP (of the SEC) because of how hard he plays."

Bradley scored 21 points, Randolph Morris had 17 and Crawford finished with 15 for Kentucky, which holds a 39-7 edge in the all-time series with South Carolina.

Morris did not start due to a team violation but he did not let that affect his play. He was 6-of-10 from the field and he added eight rebounds.

Kentucky limited South Carolina to 38 percent (12-of-32) shooting in the first half but the Gamecocks hit 57 percent (21-of-37 from the field after the break. The uneven effort is a concern for Smith heading into Saturday's matchup with No. 1 Florida.

"You could see our focus not on the game in the second half," Smith said. "I just thought it was a matter of poor execution, being very nonchalant and not being strong. We have got to have better focus on Saturday or its going to be a long day for us."

    --- --- -----
    SOUTH CAROLINA 28 61 89
    KENTUCKY (18) 50 45 95 FINAL

    Feb 7 10:03 PM
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    South Carolina vs. KentuckyFeb 7 10:02 PM


    Feb 7 8:49 PM