The Wildcats roared out of the gates with nine runs in their first two at-bats against the team that entered the series leading the NCAA in ERA. JaVon Shelby and Micheal Thomas each homered in part of UK's six-run second inning to stake their starting pitcher, junior All-American A.J. Reed, to an insurmountable lead.
Reed (4-1) worked eight innings, allowing three earned runs on nine hits. Zack Brown closed out the game for Kentucky (16-6, 2-2 SEC) with one inning of scoreless relief.
The Cats chased South Carolina starter Jordan Montgomery (3-2) in the third inning, rocking the left-hander for nine runs (seven earned) on 10 hits.
"You got to look at what we did offensively, (Jordan) Montgomery is good, and we took advantage of some balls he left up," Henderson said. "We got some really quality at-bats and we have to give a lot of credit to our hitters."
Kentucky finished with 14 hits, adding to its SEC-leading offensive numbers. The Cats ended the South Carolina bullpen's 65.2-inning scoreless streak and also stole five bases against a staff that had only surrendered four steals in its previous 19 games.
First baseman Thomas Bernal led the UK attack with a career-high three hits. Reed, Max Kuhn and Matt Reida each had two hits. Shelby, Thomas, Ka'ai Tom, Austin Cousino and Kyle Barrett each had one as the Cats collected hits from every spot in their lineup and RBI from seven of the nine spots.
Cousino stole his 10th and 11th bases of the season, swiping them both in the third inning after singling and come around to score as the throw to third went into left field for one of four Gamecock errors on the night.
South Carolina (18-2, 2-2 SEC) got two hits and two RBI from All-American third baseman Joey Pankake, who connected for his second home run of the season off Reed in the sixth inning.
It marked the second win over a top-ranked opponent for UK this season. The Cats opened the year with an 8-3 win over former No. 1 Virginia.
"We don't really look at rankings very much," Reed said. "We think we're just as good as any team in the country so we'll go out there and play our game and compete with anybody."
The series will resume on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET. The game will be televised live on FSN, with Larry Conley and Tom Werme calling the action.