The crowd at Rupp Arena was excited and energetic on Sunday afternoon as UK Hoops took the floor to play the South Carolina gamecocks. Mackenzie Cann was the first to score for the Cats, hitting a big three halfway through the first quarter. Despite having to stop game play for two separate shot clock issues, Kentucky went on a 5-0 run, preventing South Carolina from scoring for three minutes. The score at the end of the first quarter was 13-12, with South Carolina holding a small lead over UK Hoops.
While the Cats started the second quarter by gaining the lead, it quickly became clear that free throws and turnovers would be the two biggest obstacles UK would face. By halftime, South Carolina had been sent to the line 12 times, making seven free throws, while Kentucky was only one of four from the line. Turnovers were another area UK Hoops struggled with in the second quarter. The Cats average 12 turnovers a game, but already had 14 by the end of the first half. The Gamecocks turned Kentucky’s 14 turnovers in to 12 points and responded with a 20-4 run, taking their biggest lead of the game. The score at halftime was 34-20.
UK Hoops started the second half with significantly better offense. Their free throw percentage raised from 25% to 63% and the Cats only had two turnovers in the third quarter. The crowd at Rupp were on their feet, as No. 24 Taylor Murray, No. 4 Maci Morris, and No. 3 Keke McKinney all scored double figures. After trailing by 18 points early in the third quarter, Kentucky fought to bring South Carolina’s lead down to less than eight. The score at the end of the third quarter was 59-48.
But Kentucky’s comeback with cut short when the Gamecocks scored a three early in the fourth quarter, followed by a 7-0 run to increase their lead by 15 points. South Carolina shot 79% from the field for the second half of the game, securing a victory by the final buzzer. The final score was 81-64. While this is the second loss in a row for UK Hoops, Coach Mitchell remained optimistic about the team’s future in the post game press conference: “I saw some signs of progress for us today. We have to keep going and keep working.”
UK Hoops will be back in Memorial Coliseum to take on the University of Alabama on Thursday, Jan 25 at 7 pm.