COLUMBIA, SC - (AP) Chris Silva tied his career high with 27 points and South Carolina rallied from 14-points down in the second half to top No. 18 Kentucky 76-68 on Tuesday night.
The Gamecocks (12-6, 3-3 Southeastern Conference) seemed done after Kevin Knox's short jumper with 12:28 to go put the Wildcats ahead 54-40. But that's when South Carolina, fueled by the powerful, 6-foot-9 Silva, got going and outscored Kentucky (14-4, 4-2) 36-14 the rest of the way to pull off the upset.
Silva had 12 points in that stretch to lift the Gamecocks.
Wesley Myers' driving layup tied the game at 65-all and he followed that with a second straight layup for the Gamecocks' first lead of the second half, this one ruled good when Kentucky's Nick Richards was called for goaltending.
Maik Kotsar made four straight foul shots to give South Carolina a 71-67 lead and Kentucky could not respond. The Gamecocks broke a four-game losing streak to Kentucky, which managed just three points over the final 6 minutes.
Silva's tied his scoring mark set two games ago in a win over Vanderbilt.
Frank Booker added 18 points for South Carolina.
Knox led Kentucky with 21 points. No other Wildcat had more than 10 points.
Kentucky: The Wildcats had little consistency with their shooting touch. But their relentless style helped them claw back from an early 19-12 deficit to lead 37-34. The active Kentucky lineup pushed the pace and made the Gamecocks pay for putting them on the free throw line, going 17 of 22 in the first 20 minutes. Things changed down the stretch as Kentucky's freshman-heavy team struggled to keep up with the Gamecocks. The Wildcats were just 6 of 14 from the free throw line after the break.
South Carolina: When the Gamecocks miss shots, they're in trouble. After starting the game 7 of 9 from the field, South Carolina missed 18 of its final 21 shots of the opening half. That helped turn a seven-point lead into a 37-34 deficit at the break. Shooting woes have plagued the team much of the season. In fact, the Gamecocks shot just 27 percent from the field last time out and somehow pulled out a 64-57 victory at Georgia on Saturday. The Gamecocks shot just 37.1 percent in this win.
VANDERBILT'S DEBUT: Highly regarded 6-9 freshman forward Jarred Vanderbilt, who was out with a left foot injury, finally saw his first action as he came in off the bench against South Carolina. And Vanderbilt was rusty after not playing this season. He missed his only attempt in the opening half and tipped in a ball for a South Carolina basket while fighting for a rebound. Vanderbilt finished with six points and five rebounds.
Kentucky starts a two-game home stand against Florida on Saturday.
South Carolina faces its second straight ranked opponent in No. 21 Tennessee at home Saturday.