Sunday, February 2, 2003
No. 7 Kentucky 87, South Carolina 69
Red-hot Wildcats smother S. Carolina
The Associated Press
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Marquis Estill doesn't see man-to-man defense very often. When he does, he tries to take advantage.
Kentucky's Marquis Estill (50) goes up for two as South Carolina's Rolando Howell (55) tries to stop him.
| ZOOM |
Estill did just that Saturday, scoring 16 of his 18 points in the first half and lifting seventh-ranked Kentucky to its 10th straight victory, 87-69 over South Carolina.
"I like when teams play me one-on-one," said Estill, who shot 7-for-11 in the first half. "I feel like it's going to be hard for them to stop me. I don't think anybody can stop me when I get the ball inside."
The Wildcats (16-3, 6-0 Southeastern Conference) used a 21-4 first-half run to break open the game.
The Gamecocks (7-10, 1-6) lost their sixth straight game and 13th in 14 meetings with Kentucky.
While the Wildcats' Keith Bogans and Gerald Fitch get plenty of notice for their outside shooting, South Carolina coach Dave Odom said, "Kentucky, like all great teams, still beats you from 5 feet."
"Marquis Estill, right now, is the most improved center in the league, I think," added Odom, whose team is in the midst of its longest losing streak since dropping nine straight in 1999-2000.
Kentucky extended its longest winning streak since the 1998 national champions closed with 13 straight victories.
Things might not be so easy for the Wildcats in their next game. They face fourth-ranked Florida on Tuesday night in Rupp Arena.
Estill said he and his teammates didn't even mention the Gators during the past week.
"We don't know much about them, except what we see on TV," he said. "We spent our time on South Carolina."
It showed. Estill dominated the middle and opened up chances for his teammates.
Estill's inside basket gave Kentucky a 23-20 lead and started the Wildcats' charge. Erik Daniels completed a three-point play and Keith Bogans added a driving layup. Bogans and Fitch then sank consecutive 3-pointers, extending the lead to 38-24. Estill hit another shot from close range, and Josh Carrier closed the run with an uncontested layup to put Kentucky ahead 42-24 with 3:39 left.
"When you can come on the road and play with poise and be patient, it's important," Wildcats coach Tubby Smith said. "I'm seeing the maturation of our team."
Odom entered the game concerned whether his team could withstand Kentucky's defense. The Gamecocks couldn't, committing six turnovers and taking three shots during UK's six-minute surge.
"Anytime we get the ball down low to Marquis, there's usually a trap," Bogans said. "They didn't trap him. When you don't trap him, he's going to make you pay."
Kentucky didn't stop until the first-half buzzer sounded. Bogans added a jumper and a 3-pointer in the final 46 seconds to give the Wildcats a 57-32 lead. They shot 59 percent (23-of-39) in the half.
The blowout continued in the second half. Kentucky extended its lead to 69-42 on a Bogans 3-pointer with 12:34 remaining in the game. Rolando Howell's basket with 2:01 to go pulled South Carolina within 78-63, but there wasn't enough time or shotmakers for the Gamecocks to get closer.
Odom said the game was lost during the first-half run.
"If you go through a period like that, you have to be a heck of a team to survive it," he said. "We're not a heck of a team."
Bogans scored 16 points, while Daniels had 14 and Chuck Hayes 12 for UK.
Chuck Eidson led South Carolina with 17 points, and Kerbrell Brown added 15.
Team rebounds - 1.
Team rebounds - 7.
3-pointers - UK 7-17 (Fitch 1-6, Bogans 3-5, Hawkins 2-2, Azubuike 0-3, Barbour 1-1), SC 1-9 (Powell 0-1, Brown 1-5, Eidson 0-2, Kinsey -1). Technicals - None. Officials - N/A. Attendance - 14,922.
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