War Is Hell. And if you go to South Carolina to play the Gamecocks, know that there will be a war. Coach Dawn Staley's idea of a good Saturday afternoon is to lace 'em up, grab your pads, and head out onto the court for a game of Basketbrawl.
Any smart coach will tell you, that in Basketball, defensive minded teams don't like it when you defend them tightly. And that is exactly the approach that Carolina took with UK. They bumped, banged, grabbed, pushed, shoved and defended UK into oblivion tonight, in a game that will end up costing UK a lot. As I write this, Tennessee has doubled up Vandy, and should end the night in 1st place in the Women's SEC standings. That will put UK in 2nd place in the league, a place they haven't been in a long time. It also means the end of their 17 game winning streak. And it also means that unless Duke struggles and loses again this weekend, UK will not move up in the rankings, and may very well move down. Can they get back from it? Sure. The problem is that the opportunity to put themselves in a position to take that next step is now lost, for now at least.
There's not a lot to talk about game-wise, save that tough USC defense. Complaining about the referees would be passé, so I will just say that they let them play for the most part. The stats tell a different story, but I will let you folks be the judge of that. Jennifer O'Neill led the Cats with 17, and only 5 UK players scored on the night. A'Dia Mathies had 12 on 4-14 shooting, something that cost Kentucky dearly. She only had 2 points going into the last 5 minutes of the game, and made a valiant effort to bring UK back into it, however it was too little too late. UK's offense was anemic at times, going 9 minutes at one point between baskets, and it was the South Carolina defense that took its toll.
Kentucky also played their typical defense, however, when they got into a tight man to man, the whistles seemed to blow more frequently. Somehow Carolina was 13-27 from the line, while UK was 7-11. DeNesha Stallworth fouled out, and was on the bench for a long time in the first half with foul trouble as well. One drawback to everyone knowing what you are going to do is that they know what to key on. Carolina beat and banged on Stallworth inside and Mathies outside. It worked. Kentucky will have to be prepared for that next time.
The stats, other than that glaringly obvious FT stat, were just about even. No easy baskets for UK all night, and Carolina only got theirs in the last few minutes as Kentucky tried to shift defenses and got back into the game.
UK plays LSU Sunday at 3 back in Memorial, and hopes to erase this one from memory as soon as possible. TV will be on Fox SportsSouth, and we will have the live game thread here at A Sea Of Blue.