LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 13/10 Kentucky women’s basketball team looks to send out its three seniors (Crystal Riley, Amber Smith and Keyla Snowden) on a winning note when the Wildcats play host to South Carolina on Thursday in their home finale. Game time in Memorial Coliseum is 7 p.m. ET.
The seniors will be recognized during a special “Senior Night” ceremony prior to the game.
The Wildcats (22-5, 11-3 Southeastern Conference) are looking for their school-record 12th SEC win and just the third undefeated home record in school history. UK is currently 17-0. The only other times the Wildcats went undefeated at home were in 1980-81 (15-0) and 2009-10 (17-0). The Wildcats, who are tied for first place in the SEC with Tennessee, also have their sights set on winning their first SEC regular season championship since 1982.
“Big, big game tomorrow night,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “It’s our final opportunity to play at Memorial [Coliseum] this season and that’s special. The team has done a beautiful job this season playing at home and so we would love to use the home court to our advantage and play really hard against South Carolina on Senior Night. It’d be special. I’d love to send these seniors out with a win. The tough part about tomorrow night is that South Carolina, they are a very, very tough group of players. They are a well-coached team and, I think, one of the toughest defensive teams in the country. It will be very important for us to stay focused on what we need to do in order to win the game and we need a good day of preparation today. We just implore the fans to come out one more time for us this year. We need a big, big crowd to try to help us end this season right at home.”
Leading the way for the Wildcats this season is junior All-America and SEC Player of the Year candidate A’dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.). Mathies leads the team in almost every statistical category, including scoring (15.2), steals (2.7), 3-point field goals made (42) and 3-point field goal percentage (.375). She is also second on the team in rebounding (5.3), assists (2.7) and blocks (0.7). SEC Freshman of the Year contender Bria Goss (Indinapolis) follows in the scoring column with 11.6 points per game. She has scored in double digits in five of the last six games, and is the league’s freshman leading scorer. Sophomore forward Samarie Walker (West Carrollton, Ohio) is coming off her first career double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds vs. Vanderbilt. She is UK’s leading rebounder with 6.4 rebounds per game.
South Carolina, which is tied for third in the SEC standings, enters Thursday night’s game coming off a 69-55 victory at Alabama on Sunday night. The Gamecocks were led by senior guard La’Keisha Sutton who poured in a team-high 13 points while grabbing a team-high seven rebounds. Junior guard Ieasia Walker passed out a team-high four assists.
Senior guard Markeshia Grant is South Carolina’s leading scorer, averaging 11.3 points per game. Sutton (10.1 ppg), is South Carolina’s only other double-figure scorer. Freshman forward Aleighsa Welch leads the Gamecocks on the glass with 6.1 rebounds per game.
South Carolina has one of the top defenses in the conference, allowing an SEC-best 49.9 points per game to go with a 3-point field goal percentage defense of 20.8 percent.
Kentucky defeated South Carolina 66-58 earlier this season in Columbia, S.C. The Wildcats were led in that game by Snowden’s team-high 15 points. Smith (Winter Haven, Fla.) passed out a season-high tying six assists in the win, and went 6-6 at the free-throw line in the final 49 seconds to help preserve the win.
This is the 48th meeting in the all-time series vs. South Carolina. UK owns a 29-18 lead overall, including a 17-5 advantage when the game is played in Lexington. UK has won the last three matchups vs. the Gamecocks in Memorial.