USC beats Kentucky in Lexington 78-77

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Saturday, January 31, 2009.

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Devan Downey's turnaround jumper with 3 seconds left lifted South Carolina to a 78-77 victory over Kentucky (No. 24 AP) on Saturday, just the Gamecocks' second victory in 23 games in Lexington.

The junior guard had been largely quiet throughout most of the game, failing to score until the final 2 minutes of the first half. But he awoke in a hurry when it counted and finished with 23 points, all but four in the second half.

Kentucky's Jodie Meeks, two weeks removed from setting a Kentucky record with 54 points against Tennessee, got one last shot -- a desperation heave from just in front of the halfcourt line, but it bounced off the rim as time expired.

The other victory for South Carolina (16-4, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) on Kentucky's home court came in 1997. After starting conference play with five straight wins and sneaking into the Top 25 for the first time, the Wildcats (16-6, 5-2) have lost two straight, including Tuesday's loss at Ole Miss.

Based on the crowd noise, it would have seemed Kentucky was pulling away down the stretch as the Wildcats scored on four straight possessions with dunks. But, Downey answered two of those baskets with 3-pointers, never allowing Kentucky to pad its lead.

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