March 9, 2002
ATLANTA (AP) — Kentucky’s run of dominance in the Southeastern Conference tournament is over.
South Carolina ended a 12-game losing streak to the 12th-ranked Wildcats with a surprising 70-57 victory Friday night in the SEC quarterfinals, playing stifling defense as five players scored in double figures.
Kentucky had won eight of the past 10 league tournaments, including last year’s, and lost only twice in its last 28 tournament games.
The Gamecocks (18-13) advanced to the semifinals against No. 8 Alabama by upsetting two teams with 20 wins, including Thursday night’s 69-67 victory over Mississippi.
The Wildcats (20-9) shot just 19-of-61 from the floor (31 percent), compared to 50 percent for the Gamecocks. Kentucky missed its first 14 3-pointers and was 1-of-19 before a predominantly blue-and-white clad crowd.
The Wildcats had won the previous two meetings this season, but were consistently outhustled by the Gamecocks in Round 3.
Tony Kitchings had 10 points and 13 rebounds for South Carolina, and Aaron Lucas had 12 points, including five free throws in the final 1:42. Jamel Bradley scored 11 points, and Rolando Howell had 10.
Carlos Powell was 3-for-3 from the floor and 4-of-4 from the line for 10 points.
Kentucky’s Tayshaun Prince got into early foul trouble but scored 11 of his 12 points in the second half. Freshman Chuck Hayes got his first double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Keith Bogans had 13 points, but he and Prince were a combined 7-of-22 from the floor.
Fans began chanting for Kentucky guard Gerald Fitch to get into the game midway through the second half, but he didn’t make an appearance. Fitch served a three-game suspension after he and teammate Erik Daniels were charged with using fake driver’s licenses to try to get into a nightclub last month.
Fitch’s 3-pointer with 33 seconds left lifted the Wildcats to a 70-67 victory over Florida in the regular-season finale. It wasn’t immediately clear why he was benched again, and it might not have changed the outcome anyway.
The Gamecocks got going after managing only one field goal in the first six minutes and led 35-27 at halftime. Down five early, they went on a 17-5 run as Kentucky missed 13 of 15 shots.
Prince, who spent all but five minutes of the half on the bench with two fouls, attempted just one shot.