Gamecocks knock off Kentucky to reach SEC final
Nashville, TN (Sports Network) – Tarence Kinsey scored 18 points to help South
Carolina past Kentucky, 65-61, in the semifinals of the Southeastern
Conference Tournament at Gaylord Entertainment Center.
Tre’ Kelley registered 13 points, five rebounds and four assists and Bryce
Sheldon added 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting from beyond the three-point arc for
the Gamecocks (18-14), who will face Florida for the title.
“Well, obviously our team played very well,” said South Carolina head coach
Dave Odom. “I think both teams played really well. For the third game in a
row, we opened with a deficit. Guys kept their poise and composure. Came back,
tied the game, and went ahead.”
Joe Crawford finished with 13 points and Randolph Morris added 12 points with
nine boards for Kentucky (21-12), which failed to reach the SEC title game for
only the third time in the last 15 years. The Wildcats will have to await
their NCAA Tournament fate on Sunday.
“Well, I certainly want to compliment and commend the Gamecocks,” said
Kentucky head coach Tubby Smith. “Coach Odom had his team ready, and they
executed their game plan extremely well. By taking care of the basketball,
spreading the floor, really making some clutch shots, I thought their kids
really played with a lot of energy and heart.”
South Carolina will most likely have to win the conference title to earn a bid
to the NCAA Tournament. The Gamecocks have never won the SEC Tournament title
and will play in the championship game for only the second time, previously
losing to Kentucky in 1998.
Down by five midway through the second half, South Carolina went on a 14-3 run
to take a 59-53 lead. The Gamecocks connected on four straight three-pointers
during the stretch, as Sheldon and Kinsey took turns burying Kentucky from
beyond the arc.
After a Brandon Wallace layup later in the half pushed South Carolina’s lead
to 61-58, Kentucky had a chance to tie the game but Crawford missed a three-
The Gamecocks rebounded the missed shot and played keep-away as Kentucky
attempted to foul to stop the clock. Instead, Kinsey found Wallace alone under
the basket for an easy dunk to give South Carolina a 63-58 lead with 33.9
After Rajon Rondo and Patrick Sparks missed three-pointers, Kentucky fouled
Wallace and he sank a 1-of-2 free throws to give the Gamecocks a 64-58 lead.
Ravi Moss immediately drained a three at the other end to pull Kentucky within
three, but the Wildcats fouled Kinsey and he sank 1-of-2 from the charity
stripe to seal the win for South Carolina.
After Kentucky established an early 14-8 advantage, the Gamecocks went on a
9-0 run capped by a three from Sheldon for a 17-14 lead. The Gamecocks pushed
their lead to 27-22 before Kentucky closed within 30-27 at halftime.
The Wildcats opened the second half with a 15-7 spurt to regain a five-point
lead at 42-37 before South Carolina rallied to tie the game at 45-45. Kentucky
reeled off five straight points to take a 50-45 advantage before South
Carolina started to drain three-pointers to regain the lead.
The Wildcats won both meetings with the Gamecocks during the regular season,
and Kentucky still owns a commanding 37-7 lead in the all-time series between
the programs….The Gamecocks are the only current member of the SEC that has
not won the SEC Tournament…Kentucky had its 33-game SEC Tournament semifinal
win streak snapped, losing for the first time since 1936.