Kentucky Gains Ground with Convincing SEC Win over South Carolina

Scott HenryFeatured ColumnistFebruary 5, 2013

LEXINGTON, KY - JANUARY 26:  Nerlens Noel #3 of the Kentucky Wildcats reaches to block the shot of Johnny O'Bryant #2 of the LSU Tigers during the game at Rupp Arena on January 26, 2013 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Kentucky 77, South Carolina 55 (FINAL)

On a night when SEC leader Florida's loss to Arkansas proved that the league isn't quite as depleted as previously thought, Kentucky gained ground with a convincing win over South Carolina.

Five Wildcats scored in double figures, led by Julius Mays with 15. Nerlens Noel chipped in with 15 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks, a major reason that South Carolina shot less than 30 percent from the floor.

The Cats got a mild scare in the final minutes when Mays collided hard with an R.J. Slawson ball screen and went down holding an elbow. Updates on his status will be eagerly awaited by Big Blue Nation.

Michael Carrera led the Gamecocks with 18 points and six rebounds. SC forced 17 Kentucky turnovers, ball security continuing to be an issue for the Wildcats.

The Wildcats welcome Auburn to Rupp Arena this Saturday, while South Carolina hosts Tennessee.

Kentucky improves to 15-6, 7-2 in the SEC, and moves to within a game of first-place Florida. South Carolina falls to 12-10, 2-7 in conference.