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UK jerked from high pedestal after yearly loss to Spurrier

UK jerked from high pedestal after yearly loss to Spurrier
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Steve Spurrier is on familiar turf.

The South Carolina coach did two things he’s known for Thursday night. He beat Kentucky, moving to 15-0 against the Wildcats, and he put his team in the thick of the Southeastern Conference race with a 38-23 win over No. 8 Kentucky.

The win kept Spurrier unbeaten against Kentucky, a stellar 15-0 mark built over 12 seasons at Florida and three with the 11th-ranked Gamecocks.

“Coach Spurrier, yeah he’s been real pumped up this week,” South Carolina quarterback Chris Smelley said. “We knew we were well prepared against Kentucky and he got to keep his unblemished record.”

The Gamecocks led by 15 points with 2:20 to go when they took over at Kentucky’s 15, a perfect chance to pad some stats and turn a solid win into a Spurrier-style blowout.

But South Carolina ran sideways short of the end zone instead of into it. Spurrier was asked if that meant he had grown “soft.”

He laughed it off, saying he admired what Kentucky coach Rich Brooks had done in improving the Wildcats.

“We were very, very happy to win the game and leave it on the two or three yard line,” Spurrier said. “I admire what these Kentucky players have done, I really do.”

Defensive end Eric Norwood tied an NCAA record with two touchdown returns and Smelley, making his second straight start for South Carolina, completed 17 of 30 for 256 yards and two touchdowns.

“Our guys are starting to believe the ball can keep bouncing our way,” Spurrier said.

While Spurrier was excited with South Carolina’s eighth-straight victory over
Kentucky, he brushed aside talk of what could be ahead in the SEC race during the season’s second half.

“It’s way too early for that,” Spurrier said.

Not true, coach, not with the Gamecocks (5-1, 3-1) poised for the top 10 and the lead in the SEC Eastern Division.

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