COLUMN: Minor mistakes lead to major problems in Kentucky’s blowout loss to No. 1 South Carolina


Travis Fannon

Kentucky Wildcats guard Robyn Benton (1) inbounds the ball during the Kentucky vs. Missouri womens basketball game on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023, at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 77-54 Photo by Travis Fannon | Staff

Isaiah Pinto, Reporter

Thursday night’s loss was one that seemed like it could have been a win or at least a much closer game in the early goings. Kentucky held a 16-15 lead over the No.1 South Carolina Gamecocks with under three minutes remaining in the first quarter.

 This lead wouldn’t stand for long as the Wildcats miscues slowly put them in the passenger seat despite their early efforts. In the first quarter the shot selection for Kentucky was poor. The Wildcats attempted six mid range shots only making two of them.

 One of the shots was on a transition fast break that resulted in a miss rather than trying to drive to the basket. Kentucky only attempted two layups in the first quarter making one. 

 The mere momentum being built by Kentucky was quickly squandered by poor shooting. Subsequently, South Carolina capitalized from the Wildcats shooting errors going on a 17-2 run early in the second quarter. 

 Kentucky was hurt by Nyah Leveretter’s three first half fouls forcing Kyra Elzy to play small ball. Placing four guards on the court in unison. As a result, the Wildcats were outscored in the paint by their opponents 8-34 in the first half.

 Additionally, Kentucky turned over the ball ten times in the first half. South Carolina scored 13 points off the Wildcat’s mistakes. 

 Fortunately for Kentucky, Robyn Benton’s 13 points helped her team stay in the game. Also, Maddie Sherr began driving to the basket, drawing two fouls and sinking all four free throws.

 To begin the second half Kentucky came out with a 7-0 run over South Carolina. Closing the defect to only eight points, but again Kentucky lost their momentum.

 The Wildcats inability to score around the iron continued. Kentucky’s other center 

Adebola Adeyeye notched her fourth foul placing her on the bench for most of the third quarter. The Gamecocks relied on feeding the paint much like the first half. 

 Kentucky failed to score a field goal in the final six minutes of the third quarter. South Carolina’s interior defense had dominion over the paint. Denying Kentucky’s shooters with 14 blocks.

 Ultimately, Kentucky’s lack of an interior presence led to problems with a lack of scoring offensively, little support defensively, and rebounding. Kentucky was outmatched 14-62 by South Carolina with points in the paint.

 The Wildcats ended the day shooting 30% with six made three pointers. Additionally, South Carolina out rebounded the Wildcats 50-32. It’s impossible for Kentucky to overcome a powerful team like South Carolina with those numbers.

 Kentucky womens basketball will return to Memorial Coliseum on Thursday, Feb. 9, to face the Alabama Crimson Tide. The game begins at 7:00 p.m. EST and will be aired live on SEC Network+.