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Kentucky equals best start in history

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Willie Cauley-Stein scored 14 points, Aaron Harrison added 11 and No. 1 Kentucky matched the program's best start by routing South Carolina 77-43 on Saturday.

The Wildcats' 25-0 record equaled the 1953-54 squad that rolled through the regular season but declined an NCAA tournament bid.

This year's talented squad is thoroughly focused on winning the school's ninth national championship and took another step toward its quest for perfection by completing a season sweep of the overmatched Gamecocks (12-12, 3-9 Southeastern Conference).

After holding South Carolina to 23 percent shooting in last month's meeting, Kentucky limited the Gamecocks to just 13 of 55 from the field (24 percent) this time, their second-worst outing this season.

The Wildcats quickly built a 20-point lead in nearly 12 minutes. Dakari Johnson added 13 rebounds and 10 points for Kentucky, which shot 50 percent.

No. 2 VIRGINIA 61, WAKE FOREST 60: At Charlottesville, Va., Anthony Gill scored 19 points and Malcolm Brogdon stole the ball from Cody Miller-McIntyre to prevent a potential game-winning shot in the final seconds, preserving Virginia's victory against Wake Forest.

Brogdon and London Perrantes added 11 points each for Virginia (23-1, 11-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), which opened the second half with a 27-7 run to erase a 31-24 halftime deficit.

But while Virginia seemed likely to keep padding the lead as it has so often this season, Wake Forest (12-14, 4-9) wasn't on board, erasing almost all of a 13-point deficit in the last 10 1/2 minutes.

No. 3 GONZAGA 56, PEPPERDINE 48: At Spokane, Wash., Kevin Pangos scored 19 points and Gonzaga took over in the second half to beat stubborn Pepperdine.

Kyle Wiltjer added 13 points and Domantas Sabonis had 10 for the Bulldogs (26-1, 14-0 West Coast Conference), who have won 19 consecutive games.

No. 4 DUKE 80, SYRACUSE 72: At Syracuse, N.Y., Jahlil Okafor had 23 points and 13 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the season, outplaying Syracuse big man Rakeem Christmas to help Duke beat the Orange.

Duke (22-3, 9-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) won its fifth straight and withstood a standout performance from ex-Blue Devil Michael Gbinije, who scored a career-high 27 points for Syracuse (16-9, 7-5).

No. 6 VILLANOVA 68, No. 18 BUTLER 65: At Indianapolis, Darrun Hilliard rallied Villanova in the second half and hit a 3-pointer with 1.5 seconds left to give the Wildcats a victory over Butler.

The Bulldogs could have forced overtime, but Kelan Martin's 3 from the left wing came up short at the buzzer.

Hilliard finished with a career-high 31 points, 20 in the second half when he knocked down five 3-pointers. JayVaughn Pinkston added 12 as Villanova (23-2, 10-2 Big East) won its sixth in a row.

No. 8 KANSAS 74, No. 16 BAYLOR 64: At Lawrence, Kan., Kelly Oubre scored 18 points, including a clinching 3-pointer in the final minutes, and Kansas overcame a slow start to beat Baylor.

Junior forward Perry Ellis also had 18 points to join the 1,000-point for his career, and Wayne Selden Jr. finished with 15 points as the Jayhawks (21-4, 10-2 Big 12) dug out of a 13-point first-half hole to remain perfect in 13 matchups with the Bears (18-7, 6-6) in Lawrence.

N.C. STATE 74, No. 9 LOUISVILLE 65: At Louisville, Ky., Anthony "Cat" Barber scored 21 points, hitting 10 of 13 free throws, to help North Carolina State upset Louisville.

The Wolfpack held Louisville to 33 percent shooting and dominated near the basket, outscoring the Cardinals 32-16 in the paint, to earn their second win against a top 10 conference opponent. N.C. State beat Duke on Jan. 11 and had lost six of eight since before today's win.

PITTSBURGH 89, No. 12 NORTH CAROLINA 76: At Pittsburgh, Sheldon Jeter scored a career-high 22 points and hot-shooting Pittsburgh dominated North Carolina.

Cameron Wright added 15 points for the Panthers (17-9, 6-6 ACC), who shot 65 percent from the field (37 of 67) and never trailed while winning for the fourth time in five games.

Brice Johnson led North Carolina with 19 points but the Tar Heels had no answer for Jeter in the program's first game since the death of retired Hall of Fame coach Dean Smith.

No. 14 IOWA STATE 79, No. 21 WEST VIRGINIA 59: At Ames, Iowa, Monte Morris scored 19 points and 14th-ranked Iowa State overwhelmed West Virginia to sweep the season series with the Mountaineers.

Abdel Nader added 16 points off the bench for the Cyclones (18-6, 8-4 Big 12). They remain two games back of league-leading Kansas with six games to play.

No. 15 WICHITA STATE 68, ILLINOIS STATE 62: At Normal, Ill., Ron Baker scored 19 points and Wichita State overcame poor shooting with tenacious defense in holding off Illinois State.

Fred VanVleet added 15 points and Evan Wessel scored 12 for the Shockers (23-3, 13-1 Missouri Valley Conference), who shot only 36.7 percent (18 of 49) from the field. Wichita State was much better at the free throw line, making 27 of 32.

KANSAS STATE 59, No. 17 OKLAHOMA 56: At Manhattan, Kan., Marcus Foster made a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 3.4 seconds left and scored 14 points in his return from a three-game suspension to lead Kansas State past Oklahoma.

No. 19 MARYLAND 76, PENN STATE 73: At State College, Pa., Dez Wells scored 22 points, Melo Trimble added 20 and Maryland used strong shooting in the second half to scramble past Penn State.

No. 20 VCU 79, GEORGE WASHINGTON 66: At Washington, Melvin Johnson scored 17 points, hitting five 3-pointers, and VCU snapped a two-game losing streak with a victory at George Washington.

Kentucky's Aaron Harrison (2) shoots while being defended by South Carolina's Demetrius Henry during the first half Saturday. AP PHOTO