Saturday's Top 25: Kentucky tops South Carolina
Columbia, S.C. — Devin Booker found a way to make an impact for No. 1 Kentucky.
He did it again Saturday, leading the Wildcats (19-0, 6-0 Southeastern Conference) with 18 points in a 58-43 victory at South Carolina.
The win matched the team's best start under coach John Calipari and kept the Wildcats from another "House of Horrors" moment at the Colonial Life Arena where they'd lost three of their previous five games.
Booker scored seven points in Kentucky's 14-0 run that spanned both halves, closing the surge with a 3-pointer that put the Wildcats ahead 37-24 with 18:28 remaining.
"I just try to find him," said reserve point guard and fellow freshman Tyler Ulis, who led the Wildcats with six assists — several to Booker. "We came to school together. He gets the job done. He can shoot the ball so if I need to outlet, he's going to be there."
He was against the Gamecocks (10-8, 1-5), hitting six of his nine shots. Booker has made 13 of his 20 shots from long range since SEC play began, but said he's been kept grounded by Calipari's reminders not to force things and let the game come to him.
"I feel like that's a coach's job, you can't let somebody just feel like they're going to take over," Booker said of staying humble despite success.
Aaron Harrison added 13 points for Kentucky, which tied the mark of 19-0 in Calipari's debut season of 2010. That streak was ended right here, a 68-62 stunner, and gave Wildcat freshmen — and now NBA standouts — John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins their first college losses.
Just last season, a Kentucky team headed to the national championship game lost 72-67 only weeks before on this same floor.
The Wildcats turned up the defense to make sure that didn't happen this time after Sindarius Thornwell hit a 3-pointer for a 24-23 South Carolina lead with 4:31 left that sent the fans into a frenzy.
Ulis started the comeback for Kentucky with a steal and basket before Booker made two fouls shots and a dunk and the Wildcats were on their way.
Thornwell had 11 points for the Gamecocks, who shot 4 for 27 in the final 24 minutes.
Thornwell said South Carolina needed to take advantage of the situation instead of watching Kentucky pull away.
"That hurt us a lot," he said. "It would've been good if we could build off that shot and gain momentum."
Duane Notice, South Carolina's leading scorer this season, was held to two points, nine fewer than his average, and missed all five field goal tries.
This one seemed as big a mismatch with the Harrison twins and bevy of big bodies to control the struggling Gamecocks.
Still, it took until late in the opening half before the Wildcats' talent and athleticism took control to score the final 11 points of the half.
(At) No. 3 Gonzaga 91, Pacific 60: Przemek Karnowski and Gary Bell Jr. each scored 13 points as Gonzaga extended the nation's longest home winning streak to 36 games. Silas Melson added 12 points and Byron Wesley 11 for Gonzaga (20-1, 9-0 West Coast), which is off to the best start in program history. The Zags have won 13 consecutive games since their only loss at No. 7 Arizona in overtime.
Eric Thompson and T.J. Wallace scored 12 points each for Pacific (10-11, 2-7), which lost its second straight.
Mark Few has never failed to win at least 20 games in 16 seasons as Gonzaga's coach.
No. 7 Arizona 73, (at) California 50: Stanley Johnson had 19 points and nine rebounds, Dusan Ristic scored 12 points and Arizona avenged last season's loss in Berkeley. The Wildcats (18-2, 6-1 Pac-12) overcame early foul trouble to their frontcourt to finish the first half ahead by 10. They came out of the break with another big burst, going ahead by 24 points and cruising to their fourth consecutive win.
It was a small slice of redemption for Arizona after Cal upset the top-ranked and undefeated Wildcats 60-58 on Justin Cobbs' last-second shot a season ago at Haas Pavilion.
The Golden Bears (11-9, 1-6) have lost six straight and eight of nine games, falling into last place in the conference.
(At) Texas Tech 78, No. 9 Iowa St. 73: Devaugntah Williams scored a career-high 22 points and Toddrick Gotcher added 17, leading Texas Tech to its first Big 12 win. Fans swarmed the court after the victory.
Gotcher made five of Texas Tech's 11 3-pointers, tying the team's high for the season. Williams, a junior transfer, added three 3s for the Red Raiders (11-9, 1-6).
Monte Morris scored 20 points and Matt Thomas added 12 for the Cyclones (14-4, 4-2).
The win for the Texas Tech was the first over a top 10 team since March 2009 when it beat ninth-ranked Kansas.
No. 11 Kansas 75, (at) No. 17 Texas 62: Cliff Alexander had 15 points and nine rebounds, and Kansas got a key road win in the rugged Big 12. The Jayhawks easily handled Texas' size advantage inside and got timely 3-point shooting to break the game open in the second half. Brannen Greene made four 3-pointers and four Jayhawks scored in double figures. Kansas (16-3, 5-1) was nearly flawless with the ball, committing just three turnovers.
Isaiah Taylor scored 23 for Texas (15-4, 3-3) in his best game since returning from a long layoff with a broken wrist.
(At) No. 15 North Carolina 78, Florida St. 74: Brice Johnson had 18 points and 14 rebounds. Marcus Paige scored 19 points to lead the Tar Heels (16-4, 6-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who won their fifth straight league game. The Tar Heels led nearly all day, though they struggled to put the game away and ended up doing enough to hang on down the stretch against freshman Xavier Rathan-Mayes and the Seminoles.
Rathan-Mayes scored a school freshman record 35 points and hit five 3-pointers to lead the Seminoles (10-10, 2-5), including three in the final 35 seconds to keep FSU in it all the way to the horn.
(At) No. 18 West Virginia 86, TCU 85 (OT): Jevon Carter sank two free throws with 1 second left in overtime. West Virginia (16-3, 4-2 Big 12) narrowly avoided another meltdown after falling 77-50 at No. 17 Texas a week ago.
Devin Williams and Juwan Staten had 18 points each for the Mountaineers. Jonathan Holton added 15 points and Daxter Miles Jr. scored 10.
Kyan Anderson scored 22 points to lead six players in double figures for the Horned Frogs (14-5, 1-5).
(At) No. 21 Baylor 69, No. 19 Oklahoma 58: Lester Medford had 17 points, and Rico Gathers provided the rim-rocking highlight in a game-clinching run.
Medford hit a 3-pointer in a late 10-0 run that finally put the Bears (15-4, 3-3 Big 12) ahead to stay. Then came a long defensive rebound by Kenny Chery and a pass ahead to Royce O'Neale, who grabbed the ball while in the air and in one motion passed to Gathers for a run-punctuating slam for a 56-49 lead.
Chery's 3-pointer with 6:45 left had tied it at 49. Oklahoma (12-7, 3-4) didn't score again until Frank Booker's 3-pointer with 3:29 left ended a 41/2-minute scoring drought. Chery finished with 13 points.
(At) No. 22 Dayton 63, Richmond 60: Dyshawn Pierre scored 21 points, and Dayton led a double-digit lead slip away before rallying to remain unbeaten at home. The Flyers (16-3, 6-1 Atlantic 10) led by 10 points at halftime but went cold at the start of the second half, allowing the Spiders (10-9, 3-3) to make it a game. Scoochie Smith's two free throws put Dayton up 63-60 with 13.6 seconds left, and ShawnDre' Jones' attempt at a tying 3-point shot was short as time ran out.
The Flyers moved into the Top 25 this week for the first time this season and got drubbed 77-60 at Davidson on Tuesday night, their most lopsided loss of the season.
T.J. Cline led the Spiders with 14 points.