Downey Leads South Carolina Past Number 1 Kentucky

  • January 27, 2010, 12:51 AM

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Top-ranked Kentucky found out it's got some growing up to do. And college basketball will most likely find a new No. 1.

Devan Downey scored 30 points and South Carolina sent Kentucky to its first loss of the season 68-62 on Tuesday night.

The Wildcats (19-1, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) moved atop the rankings this week for the first time since 2003. They were cautioned by no less a fan than President Barack Obama earlier Tuesday to keep their focus and play with the same passion that brought them to the top.

The president or Kentucky didn't count on Downey, the SEC's leading scorer to break the 30-point mark for the fourth time in six league games for South Carolina (12-8, 3-3).

''This is what happens when you have young guys who think we're are going to win at the last minutes of the game,'' Kentucky coach John Calipari said.

It has been Wildcat youngsters such as John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins that have fueled the program's best start in 44 years. South Carolina showed there's still a place for a couple of smart, savvy senior guards such as Downey and Brandis Raley-Ross.

Raley-Ross had 17 points, the most he's scored in an SEC game this season as South Carolina won its third straight over Kentucky.

''Those guys are very talented,'' Downey said of the Wildcats. ''But they're also freshmen and this was a hostile environment.''

The president said as much earlier Tuesday when he called to congratulate the Wildcats on raising more than $1 million to help earthquake victims in Haiti, reminding Kentucky that South Carolina was a difficult place to play.

Obama, though, also thought - like most everybody else who follows the game - that the Wildcats would have little trouble with undermanned South Carolina.

''Yeah, I'm aware of it, but I'm kind of scared to mention something about this president,'' Downey joked. ''I don't want anybody knocking at my door. I don't have anything to say about Obama.''

DeMarcus Cousins matched his career best of 27 points to lead Kentucky, which had been the nation's last unbeaten team.

Fans rushed the Colonial Life Arena floor when the buzzer sounded, Downey hugging whomever he could and screaming, ''I told you so!''

With Downey, there could be more upsets and celebrations ahead.

He had seemingly hit a game-winner at Florida on Saturday, scoring on a driving layup with 5 seconds left until the Gators' Chandler Parsons outdid him with a winning 3-pointer.

This time, though, Downey and the Gamecocks would not be stopped - even after the Wildcats fabulous freshmen of Wall and Cousins seemed to take things over.

The pair combined for 13 points during a 14-3 run midway through the second half that put the Wildcats up 47-42. That's when Downey took over.

South Carolina's senior had a three-point play and two foul shots to tie it up.

Downey had another three-point play with 4:06 left to give the Gamecocks the lead for good at 54-51.

''It's been my thinking all year,'' South Carolina coach Darrin Horn said. ''If it's close, we've got No. 2 (Downey) and we've got a shot.''

Wall's three-point play with 40.1 seconds left brought Kentucky within 62-61. But Raley-Ross followed with two free throws to restore the edge.

Cousins had 12 rebounds to go along with his points, which tied his best performance set earlier this season against Seton Hall.

Cousins said the Wildcats needed to learn from their mistakes in time to reach their ultimate goals.

''I wanted to be undefeated, and No. 1 was all good, but No. 1 is not a championship,'' Cousins said. ''And we're playing for a championship.''

Maybe the Wildcats were distracted by their head-in-the-clouds moment earlier Tuesday when President Obama called.

How else to explain this one?

The Wildcats were ragged and out of sync. They were outrebounded 41-35 by the Gamecocks. They missed from close range, Darnell Dodson even missed an all-by-himself layup after a midcourt steal. Wall ended with 19 points.

''What I keep saying,'' Calipari repeated, ''we may have been undefeated, but we were lucky to be undefeated. I was being truthful.''

No Wildcat could corral Downey. While the Gamecocks' senior didn't have his shooting touch (9 of 29), he went 10 of 11 at the free throw line.

''Lets be honest,'' Downey said. ''No one gave us a chance.''

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Weird. Every time a team is undefeated and they are #1, another team upsets them.

thats how pretty much every sport works.

GO UK!!!!

that's a pretty weird comment to post on THIS blog, but... whatever. :)

i like clemson but i was glad that kentucky lost.

how can you like clemson man i am a big gamecock fan so it is almost a law in my famliy i have to hate clemson with all my heart anyways we have beat yall 2 years in arow now and it is going to be three in 2011

that was depressing i was hoping (had a feeling it wouldn't happen) but hoping that they would go undefeated! That would have been sweet for them to go undefeated in the regular season and then win it all. I know, I know, wishfull thinking but I thought they could do it. :( oh well guess they will just have to have 1 loss for the season!!

that was a great game and south carolina just took over. devan downey looked awesome compared to john wall.

whos num 1 now

Even though they lost I think they may still be #1 just because we know that they are better than Kansas. Any way I am still a huge NOVA fan so GO NOVA take charge for #1

I think we all expected that!!!!!!

WHATEVER!!!!!!!!!!! NO ONE expected that!

whoah. :D

yeah wha he said

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