Women's Basketball: South Carolina Gamecocks
DULUTH, Ga. -- Kentucky built an early lead against South Carolina and never let up, upsetting the tournament’s top seed 68-58.
Key stat: The No. 4 Wildcats forced the Gamecocks into 11 turnovers in the first half and then held on to advance to the finals of the SEC tournament.
What it means: The loss is a blow to South Carolina’s chances at a No. 1 overall seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament. The Gamecocks, who are 27-4 and won the SEC regular-season title, are no longer in control of their own destiny. Coach Dawn Staley and her young squad must now wait and see what happens in conference tournaments around the country, which will determine whether they receive a coveted No. 1 overall seed, or slip to a two-seed.
How it was won: Kentucky used its aggressive defense and a steady, balanced offensive attack to upend the Gamecocks. Four players finished in double figures for the Wildcats: Bria Goss (14 points), DeNesha Stallworth (12), Linnae Harper (12) and Makayla Epps (10 points). The Gamecocks could never get over the hump, trailing early 11-2, and then by about 10 points for the entirety of the second half.
What's next: Kentucky (24-7) will play the winner of the other semifinal, No. 2 seed Tennessee versus No. 3 seed Texas A&M, on Sunday (ESPN, 3:30 p.m. ET).
Some updates after Friday's conference tournament games:
• Texas A&M moved up two spots on the S-curve from 14 to 12 after its win over South Carolina in the SEC quarterfinals. That also elevated the Aggies from a No. 4 seed to a No. 3.
• South Carolina’s seed was unaffected by the loss to A&M, but the Gamecocks dropped from 13 to 16 on the S-curve, meaning they went from the top No. 4 seed to the final No. 4 seed.
• The advance by Texas A&M pushed Nebraska from a No. 3 seed to a No. 4 seed, despite the Cornhuskers' win over Iowa in the Big Ten quarterfinals. The Aggies moved up based on the quality of their win over a top-25 RPI opponent.
• Eastern Illinois, the top seed in the Ohio Valley Conference, was upset in the conference tournament semifinals on Friday. As a result, Tennessee Tech, which meets Tennessee-Martin in Saturday’s final, is the OVC’s new representative for now.
• Creighton joined the field as the Missouri Valley’s automatic qualifier. The Bluejays are tied with Wichita State atop the MVC standings with Saturday’s regular-season finales to go.
• With Creighton in and Wichita State out, Saint Joseph’s moved into the field as the last team in.
LAST FOUR IN
FIRST FOUR OUT
NEXT FOUR OUT
Big East (8)
Big Ten (6)
Big 12 (6)
Atlantic 10 (4)
SATURDAY'S AUTO BIDS
• Ohio Valley, 2:30 p.m. ET (ESPN3)
• Atlantic Sun, 5:30 p.m. ET (ESPN3)