No. 13 UK Meets No. 3 South Carolina in SEC Tournament Semifinals

LEXINGTON, Ky. – After its third-highest scoring effort in an Southeastern Conference Tournament game with 92 points against No. 25/24 Florida on Friday in the quarterfinals, the No. 13 University of Kentucky women’s basketball team plays in its seventh straight SEC Tournament semifinal Saturday at 5 p.m. ET against No. 3 and top-seeded South Carolina. Tickets are available at SECSports.com. 

Both semifinal games will be televised live on the ESPNU with Sunday’s championship game on ESPN. All games can also be seen through WatchESPN on computers, smartphones or tablets. Kentucky’s semifinal matchup Saturday will be called by Paul Sunderland, Carolyn Peck and Steffi Sorensen. Neil Price will have the call on the UK Sports Radio Network, available on 105.5FM in Lexington. Live stats and live audio will be available online at UKathletics.com. 

Gameday Central

2016 SEC Tournament Semifinals
#13 Kentucky vs. #3 South Carolina
Saturday, March 5 - 5 p.m. ET
Jacksonville, Fla. - Veterans Memorial Arena
Game Notes: UK | USC

Coverage

ESPNU
Radio: UK Sports Radio Network (630AM in Lexington)
Game Center (free audio, live stats)
Tournament Central
Twitter
Text Updates

Kentucky (23-6) is coming off a dominating 92-69 victory over top-25 ranked Florida on Friday in the quarterfinals, earning the third-highest scoring effort in UK’s SEC Tournament history. Junior guard Makayla Epps paced Kentucky with 22 points, adding seven rebounds and seven assists. Senior guard Janee Thompson had 19 points and four assists, while Evelyn Akhator posted 12 points and 11 rebounds for her team-leading 12th double-double of the season. Freshmen Batouly Camara and Maci Morris each scored in double figures. 

The appearance in the SEC Tournament semifinals marks the seventh straight season the Wildcats have made the round of four in the event. Under ninth-year head coach Matthew Mitchell, Kentucky has advanced to the semifinals of the event eight times, including four championship games. 

South Carolina entered the Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed after becoming just the second team in conference history to post a flawless 16-0 record in league play.  The Gamecocks also racked up postseason SEC honors, as sophomore forward A’ja Wilson was named both the SEC Player and Defensive Player of the Year, while Dawn Staley earned SEC Coach of the Year.  Additionally, two-time SEC Player of the Year Tiffany Mitchell and junior Alaina Coates were named to the All-SEC First Team.

South Carolina has posted a 29-1 record coming into the contest, with the only loss of the season coming at the hands of No. 1 UConn.  The Gamecocks have been dominant with 21 double-digit wins, including 10 by more than 20 points.  The feat was not accomplished, however, in USC’s first game of the tournament against No. 9 seed Auburn.  South Carolina held off the Tigers for a 57-48 victory, paced by Coates’ double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds.

On the season, Wilson leads the Gamecocks in scoring with 16.3 points per game and has rejected 88 shots, good for 11th in the nation.  Coates has been averaging a double-double a game with 11.8 points and 10.2 rebounds, while Mitchell adds 14.7 ppg to go with her team-high 74 assists and 52 steals.  

South Carolina has been averaging 73.1 ppg while only allowing opponents to 55.5 points for the No. 8 scoring margin in the nation.  The Gamecocks also shoot at a high percentage, connecting at a .455 clip from the field while allowing opponents to 34.5% from the floor.  Additionally, South Carolina is dominant on the boards, outrebounding opponents by an average of 40.7-33.2.
 
Saturday’s semifinals will mark the 58th meeting between Kentucky and South Carolina in the history of the two programs, and the third within the SEC Tournament.  UK holds the advantage in the all-time series, 33-24, but South Carolina has five of the last seven wins in the series. 

The Gamecocks swept the regular season series against Kentucky this year, posting a 73-62 victory in Lexington on Jan. 14, before defending their home court with a 78-68 win on Feb. 4.  South Carolina had nearly identical performances from a post player in each of the wins, with Wilson posting 26 points and pulling down 13 rebounds in Lexington while Alaina Coates recorded 27 points and 13 rebounds in Columbia, S.C.

Kentucky’s last win against South Carolina was on March 1, 2015, when the Wildcats upset the Gamecocks in Lexington with a 67-56 Senior Night victory. Kentucky has not lost to South Carolina in the SEC Tournament, with the last win being a 68-58 decision in the semifinals in 2014.
 
For more information on the Kentucky women’s basketball team, visit UKathletics.com or follow @UKHoopCats on Twitter and Instagram, or Kentucky Women’s Basketball on Facebook.

2016 SEC Tournament Schedule | All times ET
First Round – Wednesday, March 2 – SEC Network 
Game 1: No. 13 LSU def. No. 12 Alabama, 58-49
Game 2:  No. 11 Vanderbilt def. No. 14 Ole Miss, 74-59

Second Round – Thursday, March 3 – SEC Network 
Game 3: No. 9 Auburn def. No. 8 Missouri, 47-45
Game 4: No. 5 Kentucky def. No. 13 LSU, 79-71
Game 5: No. 7 Tennessee def. No. 10 Arkansas 68-51
Game 6: No. 11 Vanderbilt def. No. 6 Georgia 54-49 OT

Quarterfinals – Friday, March 4 – SEC Network
Game 7: No. 1 South Carolina def. No. 9 South Carolina 57-48 
Game 8: No. 5 Kentucky def. No. 4 Florida 92-69
Game 9: No. 7 Tennessee def. No. 2 Texas A&M 70-60
Game 10: No. 11 Vanderbilt vs. No. 3 Mississippi State 

Semifinals – Saturday, March 5 – ESPNU
Game 11: No. 1 South Carolina vs. No. 5 Kentucky – 5 p.m. ET
Game 12: No. 7 Tennessee vs. Winner Game 10 – 25 minutes after Game 11

Championship Game – Sunday, March 6 - ESPN
Game 13: Winner Game 11 vs. Winner Game 12 – 2:30 p.m.