South Carolina Basketball: Gamecocks stay undefeated with big win over Kentucky

Dawn Staley's South Carolina basketball squad dominated the Kentucky Wildcats to move to 27-0 on the season.

South Carolina basketball players Sania Feagin, MiLaysia Fulwiley, and Raven Johnson
South Carolina basketball players Sania Feagin, MiLaysia Fulwiley, and Raven Johnson / Matthew Hinton-USA TODAY Sports
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South Carolina basketball claimed the SEC regular season title Thursday night with a blowout win over Alabama, but Dawn Staley's team is chasing history, looking to become just the 5th program ever to go undefeated.

Kamilla Cardoso was out again on Sunday as she continues to rest after her Olympic qualifying trip and tough week upon her return. Ashlyn Watkins picked up another start in her stead.

In the first 9 seconds of the game, both teams had bad turnovers, but when the Gamecocks got the ball back, Watkins opened the scoring. The Gamecocks jumped out to a 7-0 lead after a Raven Johnson 3-ball and Chloe Kitts field goal, forcing Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy to call an early timeout.

The timeout helped UK get their first bucket of the game (a 2-point field goal from Maddie Scherr), but it didn't stop the Gamecocks at all. 2 1/2 minutes later, and Dawn Staley's team led 16-2 less than halfway through the opening quarter. Watkins and Kitts were leading the way with 13 points.

When the dust settled at the end of the first frame, South Carolina basketball led 25-8. The Gamecocks had blocked more Wildcat shots (6) than they had given up made shots (4).

The 2nd quarter saw Chloe Kitts pick up right where she left off. A minute in, and the sophomore already had 8 points, 5 rebounds, and 1 block. An outside jumper from Saniah Tyler finally put the Wildcats in double-figures, and it started a 5-0 run for the blue and white. Even still, the score stood 29-13 after a Raven Johnson layup ended the run from the 'Cats.

MiLaysia Fulwiley, after 6 free throws in the 1st quarter, scored 5 quick points near the middle of the 2nd, and her 9th, 10th, and 11th points came on a deep 3-pointer that put her team up by 19 points.

Former Gamecock Eniyah Russell scored her first basket of the game on a pull-up jumper, but she immediately fouled Sania Feagin, who knocked down both free throws to put her team up 38-17.

Some sloppy play from both teams followed to end the quarter, but a 42-22 lead belonged to the Gamecocks at the end of 20 minutes of play.

After the halftime intermission, the first score of the 3rd quarter came when Bree Hall banged home a 3-pointer. A few minutes later, Te-Hina Paopao scored her first points with back-to-back 3-pointers, and all of a sudden, Carolina was up 57-28 with just over 6 minutes to play in the 3rd period. After a timeout, she made another, capping off her personal 9-0 run.

A large group of subs came in to finish the 3rd quarter, and Kentucky went on a 7-0 run. Despite that, South Carolina led by 31 points after two MiLaysia Fulwiley free throws sent the two teams to the final stanza.

The 4th quarter was a coasting effort from South Carolina basketball. With just 9 players available (Kamilla Cardoso out; Sahnya Jah suspended), that's likely exactly what Coach Staley hoped for coming into the game.

Along the way, Sakima Walker fouled out (in just 11 minutes of action), and Chloe Kitts picked up her 9th and 10th points to earn her 4th career double-double. Sania Feagin set a new career-high with 16 points, and the Gamecocks broke the 100-point barrier. In the end, Carolina whipped the Wildcats again 103-55.

South Carolina Basketball vs. Kentucky Wildcats. 55. 528. Final. 103. 533