Momma said there would be days like this. I had decided I was not going to do a game thread for this one because there was no TV coverage. I WILL NOT make that mistake again. This game was a tale of two halves, but more importantly, it was a tale of two teams, as Coach Matthew Mitchell pulled some of his biggest starters in an effort to send a message that no one can afford not to get after it all "Forty Minutes".
When I finally got home and turned the game on, there were four minutes left to play, and UK was trailing by one. Little did I know until I got to the game thread that Glenn hastily put up that Kentucky had come from 16 points down in the second half. How did they get there? Well, let's take a look.
In the first half, although the game was shaky at times, Kentucky held the lead up until the 11:53 mark at 16-15. Then, after a foul by A'Zia Bishop and two quick jumpers by South Carolina, USC was up 22-18. By the 7:07 mark, the game was 26-22 in favor of Carolina. Then the wheels came off.
South Carolina made five straight shots and UK was down by 11 at the 2:39 mark. Two FT's by Kastine Evans made it 37-28 USC, and from there, UK scored only once more to bring the Cats to an 11 point margin. Then USC guard Asia Dozier hit a three pointer to put USC up by 14 at the half.
In the second half, USC drew first blood and ran the score up by two more to take a 16 point lead. Then, over the next 12 minutes, Kentucky slowly and methodically cut the lead down to where I came in at. From there, UK used defense and turnovers by USC to stretch the lead on FT's to the final of 78-74.
Jennifer O'Neill gets the game ball for her 19 point performance on 6-17 shooting, with 6-7 from the line and 6 rebounds. After Coach Mitchell went to a 4 guard lineup and his speediest post player, A'Zia Bishop, Kentucky was able to use ball handling and eliminating turnovers to control the pace and the action in the second half. UK scored 48 second half points to USC's 30. Kentucky had only 3 turnovers in the second half, and 9 for the game, compared with USC's 22.
Aleighsa Welch and Elam Ibiam led Carolina with 15 points each. Kastine Evans had the game winning shot and free throws for UK.
This was a huge win for UK as it puts them squarely back in the SEC title picture. at 10-2 UK is 1/2 game back of Texas A&M and Tennessee for the regular season lead. With Texas A&M waiting now on UK to come to town next Monday night, all eyes will be on College Station, as the winner of that game should go into the weekend tied with Tennessee for first place.
Should UK be able to win out the regular season (which will be some kind of a feat itself) by beating A&M and Tennessee along the way, they will be the regular season SEC Champions for the second year in a row. Let us not get ahead of ourselves however. Right now, College Station will be the only thing on the minds of these players until that grudge match game is over.
Coming back from 16 down to win at home against South Carolina. Wow!! It feels good to be a fan of UK Women's Hoops right now!