Well, the UK Hoops squad now has clinched no less than a tie for the SEC Regular Season Championship. That's right, SEC Regular Season Championship. What an accomplishment for these young ladies and some send off for the three seniors. With a win Sunday against Mississippi State, they stand alone atop the SEC with their #1 seed and Championship banner to hang in Memorial. It was not easy, it was not pretty, but it was extremely satisfying for them to end the season undefeated at home. The second time Matthew Mitchell's kittens have done that in three years.
Let's delve in after the jump
When UK finished off S.Carolina tonight, all eyes immediately turned to the Tennessee- Arkansas match-up down in Knoxville. That game was no less intense as Arkansas overcame Tennessee in overtime 72-71 for their first win ever in Knoxville. It couldn't have come at a better time for Kentucky.
So, Kentucky is now 23-5, 12-3 on the season with one game remaining. When the Cats travel to Miss. State they will be playing for nothing less than the #1 seed in the SEC Tourney. To quote the villainous Darth Vader, "Impressive." A'dia Mathies led the Hoops squad who were out-rebounded, out-shot, and outscored from off the bench. Those things would usually spell doom for a team in a tight game, but not Kentucky. They used 85% FT shooting, and forced the Lady Gamecocks into 20 TOs to seal their undefeated home season.
Mathies had 21 pts, 6 boards, and was 5-5 from the FT line to lead the Cats, and was followed by Bria Goss, with 14 pts of her own. With 3.0 seconds remaining, Goss was also responsible for a last minute "Chris Webber" moment when she called for a time out that Kentucky did not have. However, after Carolina made two FT's, the inbounds pass came out long and Maegan Conwright clamped down on the ball to end the game. Kentucky never trailed in the second half, but only led for the last seven mins of the first. Defense was the word of the day as both squads clamped down and forced turnover after turnover on both sides of the ball. Carolina ended with 20 and UK with 15.
Kentucky led by as many as nine at one point, but could never pull away, and Carolina was using everything in their arsenal to keep the game close. UK's lackluster first half was replaced by an energetic and sharp second, and it was just too much for Carolina to overcome. UK did allow some easy baskets for S.C. late in the second, which kept it close. All in all, another SEC instant classic women's basketball game, with UK coming out on top.
All I can say to Coach Mitchell and the entire UKHOOPS squad is OUTSTANDING!!