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January 12, 2002

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – Cliff Hawkins’ driving shot with 3.4 seconds to go gave No. 8 Kentucky a 51-50 victory over South Carolina on Saturday, its 11th straight win over the Gamecocks.

Hawkins’ shot also saved the Wildcats (10-4, 1-2) from their first 0-3 start in the Southeastern Conference since the 1975-76 season.

But this wasn’t exactly an effort Kentucky can build a championship around.

Kentucky trailed all but the final 3.4 seconds of the game. Tayshaun Prince and Keith Bogans combined for 16 points on 6-of-18 shooting for the Wildcats, who had 20 turnovers and were held more than 34 points below their scoring average.

The Gamecocks (10-5, 0-2) rushed the ball up court after Hawkins’ shot, but Aaron Lucas’ floater at the buzzer was short.

Hawkins led Kentucky with 11 points.

It looked like the Gamecocks were going to continue Kentucky’s struggles when Marius Petravicius hit three free throws with the score tied at 47-all. But a floater by Hawkins cut South Carolina’s lead to 50-49, Petravicius missed the front end of a 1-and-1 to set up the late heroics.

Jamel Bradley had 19 points to lead South Carolina.

If Kentucky hoped to right itself after two SEC losses, the first half against the Gamecocks didn’t help at all.

The Wildcats made 15 consecutive shots in winning 94-61 here a year ago, but had only nine field goals in the first 20 minutes and had several scoreless stretches. The longest was a 4:14 drought after they were ahead 14-9.

South Carolina, however, had its own shooting troubles _ it was just 8-of-27 _ and could not take advantage.

After Bogans’ 3-pointer put Kentucky ahead 19-16 with 3:57 left, the Gamecocks went on an 8-2 run to close the half.

Bradley hit three free throws, Rolando Howell had a jam and Chris Warren followed Bradley’s miss with 1.2 seconds to go for a 24-21 lead.