By BRUCE SCHREINER
Associated Press Writer
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Erik Daniels matched his career high with 19 points and capped a late first-half spurt with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer as No. 18 Kentucky overcame a ragged start to beat South Carolina 62-55 on Saturday night.
With the teams tied at 15, Kentucky (11-3, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) went on a 17-4 run over the final seven minutes of the half to take a 32-19 lead.
Daniels, a junior forward, led the outburst with two layups and the long 3-pointer with the clock winding down in the half. Marquis Estill added six points as the Wildcats repeatedly penetrated South Carolina’s defense for easy baskets.
The Wildcats started the second half with a 12-4 run. Daniels converted two layups and Keith Bogans hit a 3-pointer to make it 44-23 with 14:17 left.
South Carolina (7-5, 1-1), dogged by another rough shooting performance, cut the deficit to nine on Kerbrell Brown’s 3-pointer from the corner that made it 56-47 with 3:17 left.
Brown had 19 points, 17 in the second half.
Daniels was 9-of-12 from the field and had six rebounds. Estill finished with 12 points and Bogans, who sat out much of the first half, had 10.
Carlos Powell had 17 points for South Carolina and Chuck Eidson added 11. South Carolina center Rolando Howell, who sat out the second half Wednesday night against Mississippi after being kicked in the head, did not start but scored four points against Kentucky.
The Gamecocks’ shooting woes continued for a second straight game as they went 23-of-60 (38.3 percent), including 6-of-28 from 3-point range. On Wednesday, South Carolina shot 27.8 percent in the first half.
Kentucky was 22-of-45 from the field and 15-of-19 from the free throw line. South Carolina shot just four three throws and hit three.
The Gamecocks took an 11-7 lead on a field goal by Eidson as Kentucky coach Tubby Smith pulled his starting lineup in the first six minutes.
Kentucky finished with a season-high 22 turnovers and the Gamecocks had 19.