UK women's basketball team head shots for the 2011-12 season. Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Keyla Snowden scored 15 points to lead No. 9 Kentucky to a 66-58 win over No. 24 South Carolina on Sunday.
The Wildcats (16-2, 5-0 Southeastern) came in as the SEC's leading offense, but were held to 15 below their average by the league's best defense. Still, the 66 points were the most the Gamecocks have given up all season.
Kentucky showed it can play defense too, forcing 28 turnovers and holding South Carolina (14-4, 3-2) to just three fields goals over 10 minutes after the Gamecocks took a 45-36 lead with 11 minutes to go in the game.
The Wildcats' 5-0 SEC start is their best ever and they are now alone atop the SEC and nearly halfway to matching their team-best 11 SEC wins achieved each of the last two seasons.
Kentucky also beat a ranked SEC team on the road for just the third time in the past decade.
The Gamecocks, ranked for the first time in nine years, appeared to be ready to knock down another wall and beat a top 10 team for the first time since knocking off sixth-ranked Vanderbilt in January 2002. Kentucky had a three-game losing streak in Columbia, and South Carolina led by nine with 11 minutes to go after Aleighsa Welch hit a free throw.
But Kentucky scored the next 11 points. Kastine Evans' 3-pointer - Kentucky's first of the game - tied things at 45, then Azia Bishop's short jumper put Kentucky ahead for the first time in the second half at 47-45 with 6:52 to go.
Sancheon White buried a 3 to give the Gamecocks the lead briefly, but Snowden answered with a jumper, and the Wildcats would lead for the rest of the way.
Kentucky's two leading scorers coming in combined for just 11 points. A'dia Mathies scored eight and Bria Goss added three points. The Wildcats were just 2-of-13 on 3-pointers and were outrebounded 40-30.
But the Wildcats, tops in the SEC in turnover margin, forced South Carolina into 10 more turnovers. The Gamecocks also didn't help out themselves, making just 12 of 25 free throws.
Ieasia Walker led South Carolina with 14 points. La'Keisha Sutton scored 12 points and Welch added 11 points.
The Gamecocks lost twice this week and will likely tumble out of the top 25 after making into the poll this week for the first time since the end of the 2002-03 season. The Gamecocks made the NCAA tournament that year, but have not been back since.