COLUMBIA, S.C. — Brenton Williams scored 24 points for South Carolina, and Kentucky coach John Calipari was ejected midway through the second half as the Gamecocks held off the 17th-ranked Wildcats 72-67 on Saturday night.
South Carolina (11-18, 4-12 Southeastern Conference) led by three at halftime and hit six of its first eight shots in the second half to go up 48-32 with 14:13 left. Kentucky made a furious charge after Calipari was tossed but came up short.
The Wildcats (21-8, 11-5) couldn't make a basket, going 15:38 with only one field goal — on a goaltending call. Calipari was ejected with his team down 12 after getting a second technical with 10:21 left. He walked out of the arena with his suit coat buttoned but his shirttail out. Kentucky assistant John Robic took over for Calipari, leading a team for the first time since he was fired from Youngstown State in 2005.
Calipari's team responded with a 28-17 run and, after a three-point play by Julius Randle, Kentucky trailed 68-67 with 22 seconds left. But freshman Sindarius Thornwell hit two free throws for South Carolina, and Alex Poythress' attempt at a tying 3-pointer fell short.
It was South Carolina's first win over a top 25 team in more than three years and pulled the Gamecocks out of last place in the SEC. Students ignored repeated warnings and stormed the court, likely incurring a hefty fine from the league.
The Wildcats shot just 26.9 percent (14-of-52) from the field. They only stayed in it thanks to 33-of-42 shooting from the foul line and out-rebounding the Gamecocks 46-28.
Kentucky still was in it at the end. Andrew Harrison hit a 3-pointer with 3:11 left that cut the Gamecocks lead to 59-56. But Laimonas Chatkevicius pulled down an offensive rebound for South Carolina and was fouled. He hit both foul shots.
After two free throws by Kentucky cut the Gamecocks' lead to 62-58 with just under two minutes left, Chatkevicius dunked in a rebound. James Young hit a 3-pointer for Kentucky to put the Wildcats down three, and Chatkevicius followed with a baby hook to put South Carolina ahead 66-61 with 44.3 seconds left.
Chatkevicius finished with eight points. Thornwell added 14 points, and 15 of Williams' 24 points came from the foul line. He made all four free throws on Calipari's technical and two more foul shots when assistant Orlando Antigua got another technical.
Aaron Harrison led Kentucky with 21 points. He made just four of his 16 shots, but shot 11-of-12 on free throws. James Young added 19 points and Julius Randle added 10 points and 15 rebounds.
Kentucky shot just 17.2 percent (5-of-29) in the first half, and a frustrated Calipari picked up a technical as South Carolina pushed the ball up the floor. He was furious the rest of the half as shot after shot clanked off the rim. Kentucky missed its final 10 shots of the half, and at the buzzer. Calipari briefly stared down the referee who rang him up before walking off to the locker room. He wouldn't last 10 minutes in the second half.
The Wildcats stayed in it thanks to free throws. They were 17-of-23 from the foul line in the first half. Kentucky also out-rebounded South Carolina 30-15 in the first 20 minutes, with 16 offensive boards.
The Gamecocks played a clean first half with just one turnover. Thornwell scored nine points in the half, including two 3-pointers in the final five minutes.