SEC Tournament: Kentucky vs. Miss. State

Semifinals: No. 19 Kentucky (24-6) vs. Mississippi State (19-11)

  • Kentucky advances to its first Southeastern Conference championship game since 1982 to face Tennessee after beating Mississippi State 76-55 in the semifinals. UK had to come back from down by as many as 14 points. The win, the Cats’ 25th of the season, ties them for most in school history. A’dia Mathies stars, scoring 18 of her 25 points in the second half. Victoria Dunlap adds 22 points and nine rebounds. Amber Smith rebounds from a bad first half to finish with 14 points.
  • There are two minutes left. UK has the ball and a 69-63 advantage.
  • Mathies hits a huge three-pointer to give Cats a 69-59 lead with 3:45 left in the game.
  • The attendance for today’s session is 6,138.
  • Kentucky aggressive on both ends of the floor and is in the middle of a 9-2 run. Cats up 66-59 with five minutes left.
  • Everything knotted up 57-57 with 7:21 remaining. This has the feeling of a nail biter.
  • With 9:40 to play, Kentucky has a chance to pull ahead on Dunlap’s one and one and does 54-53.
  • Franklin putback ties it up for UK 53-53. It capped a 7-0 flurry for UK.
  • UK cut it to 47-46 on a Mathies baseline jumper, but the Bulldogs responded with a three-pointer from Tysheka Grimes to extend their lead again. With 11:28 to play, MSU leads 50-46.
  • The Bulldogs get two fastbreak layins over the UK press, extend their lead to 44-38 … still a lot of game left with 14:52 to play. Both Mathies and Dunlap are aggressively making their way to the basket.
  • Sharon Fanning-Otis forced to call a timeout after Mathies returns, intercepts a pass and then hits Dunlap on the run for a layin. State still clinging to a 40-36 lead with 15:56 to go.
  • Dunlap has gotten mad and started calling for the ball inside. She’s scored six straight and UK is now trailing 40-34.
  • Cats’ body language doesn’t look right coming out of the locker room. Mathies, who attempted just one shot in the first half, took an elbow to the face in the open court and has been escorted to the Cats’ bench with 18:16. The team doctor appears to be looking at her back teeth. Officials are looking at monitor to make sure the shot wasn’t intentional.
  • HALFTIME — MISSISSIPPI STATE 35, KENTUCKY 24: Zero flow to the game so far for Kentucky and stars Dunlap, Mathies and Smith are having uneven perfomances.
  • UK has made just eight of its 28 attempts and turned the ball over 14 times.
  • Victoria Dunlap has picked up her second personal foul with 2:01 to go and the Bulldogs now lead 33-24.
  • Snowden three-pointer in the left corner ended the drought. It’s now 29-24 MSU with 3:15 to play in the first half.
  • Second timeout called. It’s now 26-17. UK hasn’t made a shot in nearly three minutes.
  • Mitchell calls a timeout with 6:15 to go after the Bulldogs go on a 6-0 run to grab a 23-17 lead.
  • With 7:29 remaining in the first half, State leads 19-17 after a Armelie Lumanu drive and subsequent foul by UK’s Keyla Snowden. The Cats are shooting 33 percent (6 of 18), including Amber Smith forcing a couple here late.
  • The two teams have combined to shoot 7 of 26 and have turned the ball over 15 times.
  • Game is getting sloppy and silly with fouls and it’s all tied up 10-10 with 10:42 left in the first half. A’dia Mathies is on the bench with her second foul coming on a charge that had Coach Matthew Mitchell staring up at the end zone TV begging to see a replay.
  • UK turns up defensive heat, gets a steal and a bucket, then a charge was called on State, followed by a second foul on MSU star Alexis Rack. Cats up 8-6 with 14:20 to play.
  • Correction: with 15:53 to go in the first half, UK grabbed a 4-0 lead before the Bulldogs responded with FOUR straight of their own. The officials have now ruled a Mary Kathryn Govero shot was indeed a two-pointer.
  • Now there are serious clock issues, so the game has been halted for a second straight time.

Pre-game notes:

  • Kentucky topped the Bulldogs 69-59 at a back-and-forth game in Starkville, Miss. earlier this season.
  • The series is tied at 17-17, with UK owning a slim 3-2 advantage when the teams meet in the SEC Tournament.
  • Hold onto your hat (should you be wearing one): Four of the last five meetings between UK and MSU have been decided by eight points or fewer with one of those going to double overtime.

Other notes of interest:

  • Most recently, Kentucky has advanced to the semifinals in 2006, 1999 and 1992. It is 1-6 in the semifinals. Its last and lone win in the semis was in 1982, the last and only time the Cats have won a conference championship.
  • A win would give Kentucky would tie a school record for most wins with 25. It also would give the program its 600th victory.
  • SEC Player of the Year Victoria Dunlap is one block shy of setting the school record for most blocks in a single season with 57.

Kentucky connections:

  • Mississippi State Coach Sharon Fanning-Otis (she got married this summer) was UK coach from 1987 to 1995. She was 134-97 before her contract was not renewed.
  • Former Kentucky center Catina Bett is now attending Mississippi State after transferring there when UK declined to renew her scholarship last season. The 6-foot-6 player is sitting out this season per the NCAA transfer rules.
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