LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Kentucky women’s basketball team will play its second of three regular-season games at Rupp Arena this winter Sunday, Jan. 21 when it squares off against No. 10 South Carolina at noon ET. The first 5,000 fans inside Rupp Arena on Sunday will receive a free pom-pom, while junior guard Taylor Murray is scheduled to be available for autographs postgame in the Rupp Arena main lobby. The game will be Kentucky’s annual We Back Pat Game, supporting The Pat Summitt Foundation.
“Big game Sunday vs. a very good South Carolina team. We would love to get a big crowd out there at Rupp on Sunday to help us try to get a victory,” said Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell (pictured). “It will be a tough game and the team is working hard trying to get prepared for a good South Carolina team."
Mitchell hopes the team’s leading scorer, Maci Morris, will be able to play against the Gamecocks after suffering a knee injury recently. Morris, who is averaging 15.4 points, missed last Monday night’s game with Vanderbilt when the Wildcats dropped to the Commodores 70-55 in Nashville. "We are hopeful,” said Mitchell. “The week off (helped). We are re-evaluating her today and she looks like she has really made some great progress, so that will be good. And we got a good report on Makenzie Cann, so that would be great too. It would be good if we could get back to full strength and health and Maci is certainly trending in the right direction."
Kentucky (9-10, 1-4 Southeastern Conference) is coming off a six-day break following a disappointing loss at Vanderbilt. Without Morris, Kentucky relied on Murray, who scored a season-best 23 points with seven steals in 40 minutes against Vandy. Freshman forward KeKe McKinney scored nine points with six rebounds, while senior post Alyssa Rice had eight points and six rebounds. UK shot just 33.9 percent from the field and allowed the Commodores to shot 45.3 percent from the field, including seven 3s.
South Carolina enters the weekend ranked No. 10 in both the Associated Press Top 25 and USA Today/Coaches Top 25 with a 15-3 overall record, including a 4-2 mark in the SEC. The Gamecocks are 8-1 at home, 5-1 in true road games and 2-1 in neutral-site games.
USC is coming off a 95-82 bounce-back victory Thursday at Vanderbilt after falling at home to top-10 ranked Tennessee last Sunday. The Gamecocks were led by Alexis Jennings who went 9-of-10 from the field for 27 points and 13 rebounds, while LeLe Grissett scored 22 points with nine rebounds. Doniyah Cliney, Lindsey Spann and Tyasha Harris each scored in double figures as the Gamecocks shot 66.7 percent from the field as a team, including 6-of-11 from long range. South Carolina played without National Player of the Year candidate A'ja Wilson for the second straight game due to injury. Mikiah Herbert-Harrigan also missed the game due to injury.
South Carolina has been paced this season by Wilson who is averaging 23.2 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. Jennings is averaging 12.7 points and 7.4 rebounds, while Harris (11.6) and Spann (11.2) each are averaging double figures. As a team, USC hits 50.1 percent from the field and is averaging 82.2 points per game.
Kentucky leads the all-time series with South Carolina 33-28, including a 20-8 mark in games played in Lexington. This is the second time the two teams have met inside Rupp Arena. South Carolina won the only previous meeting in the historic building, 65-57, on March 2, 2008. The Gamecocks have won each of the last six meetings in the series with Kentucky's last win against South Carolina coming March 1, 2015 when they defeated the Gamecocks, 67-56, inside Memorial Coliseum. Matthew Mitchell is 10-13 all-time against South Carolina as head coach at Kentucky.
Kentucky and South Carolina met three times last year for the second straight season with the Gamecocks winning all three games. The series started with USC claiming a 75-63 win in Lexington on Feb. 2 before posting a 95-87 win over UK in Colonial Life Arena on Feb. 26 to end the regular season. The two met again the following week in Greenville, S.C., in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament with the Gamecocks claiming a 89-77 victory against a Taylor Murray-less Kentucky.
The game will be broadcast live on ESPNU with Roy Philpott and Brooke Weisbrod on the call. The action can also be seen through WatchESPN on computers, smartphones or tablets. Darren Headrick, in his first year with the program, will be calling the game on the UK Sports Radio Network.
The Rupp Arena west patron entrance will be closed Sunday. More than 10,000 convenient parking spaces are available within a 10-minute walk of Rupp Arena. In addition, most surrounding parking lots and parking garages offer spaces for individuals with disabilities. A parking fee will be in effect for Rupp Arena events. A parking map is available here.
UK Athletics Photo