UK women can’t contain South Carolina’s size, get pummeled at home


Kentucky Wildcats guard Makayla Epps fights through contact to shoot a layup during the second half of the game against the South Carolina Gamecocks on Thursday, February 2, 2017 at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, KY. Photo by Addison Coffey | Staff.

Chris Leach

The No. 25 UK women’s basketball came into a blue’d out Memorial Coliseum Thursday evening looking to pull off an upset they have not done since 2015. Instead, they ran into a brick wall, getting beat by the No. 4 South Carolina Gamecocks 75-63.

Being the No. 4 team in the country, South Carolina had lots of advantages over the Cats, but nothing was more overwhelming than USC’s size

The Gamecocks had four players over six feet tall in their starting lineup, while the Cats only had two. USC’s size was a big reason why the Gamecocks out-rebounded the Cats 40-29, and had eight blocked shots.

USC’s size also caused major problems for UK’s offense that shot a season low 34 percent from the floor.

“They are really big down low, they have very tall guards as well so it did have an effect on us,” Maci Morris said.

Early in the game, the Cats kept the game competitive, not allowing South Carolina’s lead to grow too big. However in the middle second quarter, the Gamecocks went on an 18-0 run that gave them a 19-point lead at halftime.

It was A’ja Wilson and Alaina Coates of South Carolina who did the most damage in the first half, and the whole game entirely.

Wilson has averaged 19.7 points the last three games, and certainly did not slow down Thursday evening as she dropped 20 on the Cats.

Coates scored 20 points herself and tied her career high in rebounds with 18 boards. Between Coates and Wilson, the duo almost out-rebounded the Cats, as UK only had two more rebounds than the pair of Gamecocks.

“Wilson and Coates are just a different level of athlete, they are fantastic athletes,” Matthew Mitchell said. “They can really move and just cause you so many problems.”

The Cats played better in the second half, outscoring South Carolina 40-33. However, it is likely USC’s margin of victory would have been bigger if they did not bring down their defensive pressure when the game was virtually over late in the fourth quarter.

Makayla Epps was a bright spot in the Cats’ rainy day, as she scored 23 points and grabbed nine rebounds. This was Epp’s third 20-point game in a row, and the third most points she has scored in a game this season.

The Cats have now lost two in a row after winning five straight. Despite the rough week they have had, the Cats know how brutal is it playing in the SEC and will keep their heads high for future games.

“We know we are going to lose games, we just got to learn from it and bounce back,” Morris said. “We are going to go into practice tomorrow and work as hard as we can, just learn from this game.”