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Cooper scores 20 as South Carolina runs away from No. 6 Kentucky 79-62
Men's Basketball  . 

Cooper scores 20 as South Carolina runs away from No. 6 Kentucky 79-62

South Carolina Athletics

Gamecocks ink highest ranked win at home since defeating the top-ranked Wildcats on Jan. 26, 2010

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Ta’Lon Cooper scored 20 points and Jacobi Wright had 14 with four 3-pointers as South Carolina pulled away in the second half and beat No. 6 Kentucky 79-62 on Tuesday night.

The Gamecocks (16-3, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) beat their highest-ranked opponent at home since taking down No. 1 Kentucky 68-62 14 years ago. In that game, South Carolina overcame future NBA All-Stars John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins for the victory.

In this one, they held the nation’s top scoring team that averaged more than 91 points to its lowest output of the season.

Fans easily burst through the thin yellow ropes to rush the court and celebrate the latest high point in surprising season. It should cost South Carolina a $100,000 fine from the SEC under league policy, but no one was concerned about that at the moment.

It’s the third straight loss at South Carolina for the Wildcats (14-4, 4-2) and fourth in their last seven meetings in the series.


It sure didn’t look like the Wildcats would struggle in this one. Kentucky hit five straight shots on the way to a 21-16 lead midway through the opening period.

But South Carolina and its SEC-leading defense kicked in after that to close the period on a 17-4 run.

The Wildcats missed nine of their final 10 shots of the period and were held to their lowest scoring half of the season.

Antonio Reeves, Kentucky’s leading scorer at 19.6 points a game, shook off a 1-for-7 shooting first half with seven points early after halftime and the Wildcats were within 40-38 with 15:04 to play.

But the Gamecocks took off again on a 22-6 run to open an 18-point lead with less than eight minutes left.

Kentucky could not get within single digits the rest of the way.

The sold-out crowd — Colonial Life Arena seats 18,000 — was encouraged to wear black. The fans, including football coach Shane Beamer, yelled and screamed as time ticked down on the victory.


The 79-62 victory over Kentucky is the highest ranked win at home since defeating No. 1/1 Kentucky on Jan. 26, 2010 at CLA, which was the program’s first ever win over a top-ranked opponent.
Tuesday’s game marked the 14th sellout for a men’s game at Colonial Life Arena since its opening in 2002 and first since Kentucky on Jan. 15, 2020. Six-thousand student tickets were distributed tonight for the first time in school history.



  • Graduate guard Ta’Lon Cooper tied a career-high with 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting. He now has nine double-figure scoring games this season for the Garnet & Black. Cooper added six rebounds, five assists, and no turnovers in 36 minutes of action. He entered tonight’s game eighth in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.85:1) and third in the SEC in assists averaging 4.3 per game.
  • Freshman forward Collin Murray-Boyles was effective on both ends of the floor, accounting for six points, a team-high nine rebounds, five assists and three blocks. Over his four starts in league play, he is averaging 7.7 points and 6.3 rebounds. It marked his second game of the season leading the team in rebounds, assists and fourth leading the team in blocks.
  • The reserves were vital for the Gamecocks tonight led by junior guard Jacobi Wright and senior forward Josh Gray. Wright scored 14 off the bench knocking down four triples. Gray added nine points on 4-of-6 shooting and grabbed six boards.
  • South Carolina as a team knocked down 11 3’s shooting 45.8 percent (11-for-24) from downtown. It’s the first time the Gamecocks have hit 10 or more 3s in the team’s five league games. Over the last two games, the Gamecocks are 20-of-43 from downtown, good for 46.5 percent.
  • Under head coach Lamont Paris the last two seasons, Carolina improves to 9-3 in games where the team makes 10 or more 3s. All three losses have come on the road.
  • The win marks the team’s third over Kentucky in the Wildcats’ last four trips to CLA dating back to Jan. 16, 2018.
  • The victory is Lamont Paris’ first win over a top-25 team as a head coach in 10 tries (1-5 at South Carolina now).
  • Paris is now 2-0 against UK at South Carolina. Darrin Horn is the only other coach to win his first two games against the Wildcats (started 3-0) in program history.
  • The Gamecock defense held the Wildcats to a season-low 62 points. Kentucky entered tonight the top scoring offense in the nation, averaging 91.6 points per game. UK had scored 90 or more in four straight games and had been held below 80 points just once all season entering tonight.
  • Carolina’s perimeter defense also held the nation’s sixth-best 3-point shooting team to just 30.8 percent (4-of-13) from behind the arc.


Carolina (16-3, 4-2 SEC) remains home for its first two-game homestand of the SEC season, squaring off against Missouri (8-11, 0-6 SEC). Mike Morgan (pxp) and Mark Wise (analyst) will be on the call for the 1 p.m. tip on SEC Network.