By PETE IACOBELLI
AP Sports Writer
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Marquis Estill scored 16 of his 18 points in the first half as No. 7 Kentucky beat South Carolina 87-69 Saturday for its 10th straight victory.
The Wildcats (16-3, 6-0 Southeastern Conference) used a 21-4 run midway through the opening period to break the game open.
Kentucky extended its longest winning streak in three seasons, when the 1998 national champions closed with 13 straight victories and opened the following season with four consecutive wins.
Things might not be so easy next game.
Kentucky faces fourth-ranked Florida, a 77-66 winner over Arkansas on Saturday, at Rupp Arena on Tuesday night in an SEC Eastern Division showdown.
Estill’s dominance in the middle was a big reason for success against the Gamecocks (7-10, 1-6), who have lost their last six and 13 of 14 games with Kentucky.
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 Gerald Fitch had 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.
South Carolina coach Dave Odom entered the game concerned whether his team could withstand the Wildcats’ defense. The Gamecocks couldn’t, committing six turnovers and taking only three shots during the six-minute surge.
Kentucky didn’t stop until the buzzer sounded. Bogans added a jumper and a 3-pointer in the half’s final 46 seconds to give the Wildcats a 57-32 lead at the break. They shot 59 percent (23-of-39) for the period.
The blowout continued in the second half. Kentucky extended the lead to 69-42 on a 3-pointer by Bogans with 12:34 remaining.
South Carolina’s attempt at a comeback fell short.
Rolando Howell’s basket with 2:01 to go pulled the Gamecocks within 78-63. But there wasn’t enough time or shotmakers to get South Carolina closer.
Bogans added 16 points, Daniels 14 and Chuck Hayes 12 for the Wildcats.
Chuck Eidson led the Gamecocks with 17 points.