Kentucky hoping to recreate last year’s magic against No. 1 South Carolina


Isabel McSwain

Kentucky Wildcats head coach Kyra Elzy coaches forward Ajae Petty (13) during the Kentucky vs. No. 7 LSU womens basketball game on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. UK lost 67-48. Photo by Isabel McSwain | Staff

Ali Cetinok, Assistant Sports Editor

Kentucky womens basketball is currently in a position it did not expect to be in thus far into the SEC season.

With four conference games played and zero wins, the Wildcats have not had the best of showings in the early stages of league play.

After a 19-point loss against LSU at Rupp Arena on Sunday saw Kentucky fail to grab its first conference win yet again, the Wildcats stand without a win since their 95-86 victory against Ohio in December.

Unfortunately for Kentucky, things do not get any easier as it welcomes not just the best team in the SEC, but the No. 1 team in the nation as the South Carolina Gamecocks are set to travel to Memorial Coliseum on Thursday.

South Carolina will enter Lexington with a perfect 16-0 record that includes road wins at No. 2 Stanford and No. 17 Maryland. The Gamecocks are currently averaging 80.9 points per game with opponents only managing to score 44 a game. USC is also currently shooting 47% from the field while hitting 31% from beyond the arc.

Zia Cooke is the biggest offensive threat on the floor for Dawn Staley’s squad, averaging 15 points per game on 41% shooting from the field. 2022 NCAA Tournament MVP and Naismith College Player of the Year Aliyah Boston is also a danger to Kentucky as she averages 11.5 points per game. Kamilla Cardoso is also very capable of causing issues against the Cats averaging 9.3 points per game.

Making 66% of her field goal attempts, Syracuse transfer Sania Feagin, a 2021 All-ACC First Team member, is another addition to the list of highly talented players that Kyra Elzy’s squad are going to have to face on Thursday night.

Not only are South Carolina the best team in the country, but the Gamecocks also are coming into Lexington with revenge on their minds. After having won 14 of its last 15 matchups against Kentucky prior to the SEC Tournament Championship last March, the Gamecocks were stunned by Kentucky as the Cats claimed their second SEC Tournament title in school history after a game-winning 3-pointer courtesy of Dre’una Edwards.

To make matters more impressive, the win saw the Cats take the lead after trailing for nearly the entirety of the game after entering the game 0-2 against USC on the season, including a 74-54 loss that marked the beginning of a stretch that saw Kentucky go 1-7.

Kentucky, on the other hand, is hoping to recreate some of that same magic again on Thursday with a similar level of desperation.

With 2023 already here, tournament resumes are quickly becoming something teams are getting wary of and Kentucky, standing at 8-8, certainly does not have a tournament resume.

Much like in March last season, head coach Kyra Elzy’s squad are huge underdogs as it prepares to face a team with National Championship ambitions, with the Gamecocks going on to win the 2022 NCAA Championship.

Tipoff against the Gamecocks is currently set for Thursday, Jan. 12, at 7 p.m. EST and can be viewed live on the SEC Network.