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NCAA Men's Basketball Scoreboard: Recap
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South Carolina 70, Kentucky 57
Posted: Saturday March 09, 2002 01:46 AM
South Carolina
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ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Tony Kitchings had 10 points and 13 rebounds as South Carolina moved into the Southeastern Conference tournament semifinals with a 70-57 upset of No. 11 Kentucky.

The Wildcats, the defending champions and winners of seven of the last 10 conference tournaments, jumped out to a 7-0 lead but the Gamecocks roared back to take a 35-27 lead at halftime.

South Carolina (19-13) led, 43-37, before embarking on a 16-4 burst to increase its advantage to 59-41 on a pair of free throws by Carlos Powell with 5:03 remaining.

Kentucky (20-9) got no closer than 11 points thereafter.

Aaron Lucas led six players in double figures with 12 points for the Gamecocks, who snapped a 12-game losing streak to the Wildcats. Kentucky beat South Carolina twice in the regular season and had not lost to the Gamecocks since March 12, 1997.

South Carolina faces Alabama, a 91-72 winner over Tennessee earlier in the day, in the semifinals on Saturday.

The Gamecocks became the first six seed to reach to semifinals of the tournament.

Keith Bogans had 13 points and Tayshaun Prince 12 to pace Kentucky, but the stars combined to shoot just 1-of-11 from the arc. The Wildcats, who had won 26 of their last 28 SEC tournament games, finished an abysmal 1-of-19 from the arc.

"I really have to compliment South Carolina," Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said. "They did a good job making shots and taking us out of our game. We seemed to fall apart. This is not a very good representation for us. This is a disappointing loss. Nothing seemed to work for us." Kentucky shot a season-low 31 percent overall (19-of-61), while South Carolina sank 50 percent (22-of-44), including 46 percent from the arc (6-of-13).

"Inside play is not possible without good outside play," Gamecocks coach Dave Odom said. "We've had that the last two nights in a row." South Carolina reached the quarterfinals with a 69-67 victory over Mississippi on Thursday.

The Wildcats played without guard Gerald Fitch, who was benched by Smith for an undisclosed reason. Smith had been suspended twice during the season for various incidents.

"(It was) just a coach's decision at this time not to play him," Smith said. "He'll play in the NCAA Tournament. It's something we visited with him. He'll play in the tournament." Fitch missed games earlier this season for fighting a teammate and for using a fake ID to try to get into a nightclub. He had come back from the latest suspension to hit the game-winning 3-pointer in a 70-67 triumph over Florida last Saturday to move Kentucky into a three-way tie with the Gators and Georgia atop the SEC East.

"It was unfortunate that Gerald didn't play tonight," said J.P. Blevins, who played 15 minutes but was held scoreless. "Gerald is a big part of the team, but the guys on the floor have to rally around each other and it didn't happen tonight." "Gerald Fitch has hurt us as much as anyone on his team," Odom said. "For him not to play for whatever reason is a big factor. It would have been a different game." .

 


 
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