Start time: 2pm
Live Stream: WatchESPN.com
Radio: 107.5 The Game
Live Audio: Gamecock IMG Sports Network
It’s the last regular season game for Alaina Coates and reserve Tiffany Davis as Kentucky steps onto the Colonial Life Arena floor in the final matchup before the postseason. While we’re almost guaranteed to see the Gamecocks garner a home game in the NCAA Tournament, the duo will be feted in a ceremony before the 2pm tipoff. Coates’ impact on the program has been unmistakable: she’ll depart as one of their all-time rebounders and among the top shot blockers in Carolina history. It’s going to be tough to replace a player of her stature, and regardless of her status today (as of this writing, it wasn’t announced), the team will lean on her strengths as they head into the SEC Tournament later this week in Greenville and through to the Big Dance.
The Gamecocks actually got some big-time help from the Wildcats in the standings on Thursday night. Kentucky celebrated their own Senior Day in Lexington with a 78-75 victory over Mississippi State behind a dramatic last-second basket by Makayla Epps. Carolina’s subsequent victory at Texas A&M left them and the Bulldogs tied at 13-2 atop the conference, so a win by South Carolina today or a loss by the Bulldogs regardless of the Gamecocks’ result gives USC the #1 seed in Greenville.
As for the matchup itself, the Wildcats will be out for revenge as the Gamecocks got the better of them on February 2, a 75-63 victory at Memorial Stadium. Coates had a monster game with 20 points and 18 rebounds and teamed with A’ja Wilson (20 and 9) to lead the Carolina attack. That offset a 23-point/nine-rebound performance by the Wildcats’ Epps. Epps got some help from Maci Morris (14 points), but the Gamecocks were able to hold Akhator and Taylor Murray to just nine points. Another big key to the Gamecocks’ win was their dominant rebounding performance: they finished +13 on the defensive end and +11 overall as Kentucky had absolutely no answers for Coates and Wilson on the glass.