Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gamecocks Dominant in Semifinal Rout; Mitchell, Wilson Lead Third Win over Kentucky This Season

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gamecocks Dominant in Semifinal Rout; Mitchell, Wilson Lead Third Win over Kentucky This Season

Article excerpt

Byline: Garry Smits

South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said she wanted to bottle up the good things about Saturday's SEC Women's Basketball Tournament semifinal rout of Kentucky and take them into Sunday's championship game against Mississippi State.

If she and the No.a3-ranked Gamecocks could do that, the law would require a stern warning label.

Senior guard Tiffany Mitchell scored 20 points and hit 4 of 8 3-point attempts and sophomore forward, and SEC player of the year A'ja Wilson added 18 points, six rebounds and four blocks as the top-seeded Gamecocks overpowered the Wildcats 93-63 at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.

South Carolina (30-1) scored its season high in points, set a school record for the most points scored in an SEC Tournament game and achieved the second-highest margin of victory in an SEC semifinal, topped only by Tennessee's 106-45 victory over Vanderbilt in 1998.

The Gamecocks beat Kentucky for the third time this season and completed the payback for crucial losses to the Wildcats the last two seasons. Kentucky handed South Carolina its only regular-season loss last year and knocked the Gamecocks out of the 2014 SEC Tournament in the semifinals.

"Something about the rivalry gets under our skin," Wilson said. "Knowing it was Kentucky, it really helped us out."

Mitchell was downright defiant about how South Carolina controlled the game from start to finish, especially offensively, as the Gamecocks shot .529 for the game (37 of 70), .667 in the second half (20 of 30) and a blistering .846 in the fourth quarter (11 of 13) - a day after shooting a season-low .314 in a lackluster 57-48 victory over Auburn.

"We could have tried to shoot with our eyes closed and [the ball] probably would have gone in," she said. "I knew [Staley] wouldn't have let us shoot with our eyes closed. …

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