No. 1 Kentucky routs South Carolina to match best start

Lexington, KY ( - After sweating out a pair of thrilling road victories against Florida and LSU in their last two games, the top-ranked Wildcats returned home and made things much easier for themselves this time around.

Willie Cauley-Stein led a remarkably balanced scoring effort with 14 points, Aaron Harrison added 11 and Kentucky rolled to a 77-43 win over South Carolina.

On a day where head coach John Calipari was announced as a finalist for the Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2015, his team matched the best start in program history.

"I'm honored and humbled when you see all the people they're talking about," Calipari said when asked about the Hall of Fame honor. "But I would say what I tell my team all the time, during the season, it is about our team. When the season ends, it's about individuals."

Kentucky (25-0, 12-0 SEC) tied the 1953-54 Wildcats, who finished the season 25-0 and were named national champions under legendary coach Adolph Rupp.

Dakari Johnson, Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Harrison, Trey Lyles and Devin Booker all scored between eight and 10 points.

Johnson also had a game-high 13 rebounds, and Andrew Harrison had six assists, three more than the entire South Carolina unit.

Sindarius Thornwell accounted for nearly half of South Carolina's points, netting 20 on 5-of-17 shooting to go along with nine free throws.

"They outplayed us and out-hustled us," said Thornwell. "They got easy baskets and we didn't."

South Carolina (12-12, 3-9) hasn't won consecutive games in conference play.

Andrew Harrison drove right through the South Carolina defense on the game's first possession and dropped off a pass to Towns, who threw down a two-handed jam in traffic. Towns scored Kentucky's first six points but took just three shots in the game.

Cauley-Stein's transition slam at 14:24 made it 12-2 and Aaron Harrison's personal 6-0 run just after the midpoint of the first half made it 26-6.

"I just feed off my teammates," said Cauley-Stein. "I make a highlight dunk or something ... and seeing my teammates happy is more fun than me actually doing something."

The Gamecocks had just five field goals compared to Kentucky's 17 at halftime, as the lopsided score reached 43-18 after 20 minutes.

Kentucky's lead reached 39 points late in the second half before Calipari emptied the bench.

Game Notes

South Carolina shot just 23.6 percent from the floor, which is actually up from the first matchup. The Gamecocks hit a putrid 22.6 percent in the first meeting on Jan. 24, a 15-point Kentucky win ... Kentucky is 26-2 all-time at home against South Carolina.