COLUMBIA - The urgency to reverse South Carolina's sagging fortunes wasn't reflected in the seats or on the floor Saturday.
Kentucky was in town, but the storied program's presence wasn't enough to stop students from giving back about 1,000 tickets the day before.
And really, who could blame them? They had better things to do than watch the winningest program in history make history and a mockery of their Gamecocks, 94-61, before 9,958 fans at Carolina Coliseum.
You have to go back to a 64-11 loss to Wake Forest on Feb. 20, 1915 to find a worse loss at home for South Carolina.
"It was a tough game to lose," Gamecocks point guard Aaron Lucas said. "But the way we lost this game, to me that's something we can't have. It's ridiculous."
The Wildcats entered halftime up 38-33, and then the carnage commenced.
On the strength of a 32-6 barrage midway through the half and 64-percent shooting for the game, Kentucky outscored South Carolina 56-28 after intermission to win its ninth straight over the Gamecocks.
South Carolina's students showed by their indifference that they weren't students of the game, and the Gamecocks (11-8, 3-5 SEC) weren't good teachers of it against the Wildcats, who got dominating shooting displays from forward Tayshaun Prince and guard Keith Bogans.
"The second half, it's like we weren't even there," Lucas said.
Prince had a career- and game-high 29 points on 12-of-15 shooting - including 5-of-5 from 3-point range - and Bogans added 21 on an 8-of-11 clip and buried five of his seven 3-point attempts.
The Wildcats were able to penetrate the Gamecocks' 2-3 zone without much effort, and that left the outside open for a 13-of-21 barrage from long range.
"Once you get some inside looks first, get a couple of baskets on layups on the fast break, then the 3's will start to fall as well," said Prince, whose team shot 70 percent in the second half and sank 15 straight shots during one stretch.
"We just shot lights-out," Bogans said. "It felt good out there. The ball was leaving my hand and it was feeling good."
Marius Petravicius (17 points) and Jamel Bradley (10 points) were the only double-figure scorers for the Gamecocks, who shot 32 percent from the floor and 22 percent from 3-point range.
Though South Carolina coach Eddie Fogler said his team's morale during the game was its lowest in two years, he stressed that he wasn't concerned about the magnitude of the blowout.
"I'll be more concerned about how we'll react on Wednesday," Fogler said of the Gamecocks' game against visiting Georgia. "The worst loss? Who cares about the worst loss? A loss is a loss."
Saturday figured to hold as good a chance as any for the Gamecocks to snap their eight-game losing streak to Kentucky, whose roster has six freshmen and three sophomores.
But while the Wildcats (13-7, 6-2) might be young and unranked, they're more unbeatable than ever as far as this series is concerned.
Something about the second half brings out the best in coach Tubby Smith's squad. Wednesday, the Wildcats were down 10 at Georgia with less than 17 minutes left, but recovered and coasted by the No. 25 Bulldogs, 85-70.
Reach Larry Williams at (706) 823-3645 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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