No. 19 Kentucky 76, Mississippi St. 65
Kentucky rallied after trailing by 14 points in the second half
to beat Mississippi State 76-65 on Saturday night, advancing to
only its second Southeastern Conference tournament title game.
A’dia Mathies scored 25 points, including 18 in the second half,
and Victoria Dunlap added 22 for No. 19 Kentucky (25-6). The
Wildcats will play No. 4 Tennessee on Sunday night.
Kentucky won the 1982 title in its only other appearance in the
championship game, while regular-season champion Tennessee will
play for its 14th tournament title.
Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell led an impromptu pep rally on
the court in front of Kentucky fans after the win.
Mississippi State (19-12) led 35-24 at halftime and stretched
the lead to 14 early in the second half.
Kentucky, which made only 8 of 28 shots (28.6 percent) from the
field in the first half, rallied behind Mathies, Dunlap and Amber
Smith, who had 14 points. Dunlap had nine rebounds, five blocks and
Tysheka Grimes led Mississippi State with 19 points. Armelie
Lumanu had 18 and Chanel Mokango added 13.
Lumanu scored at the end of the first half to give Mississippi
State a 35-24 lead. The Lady Bulldogs stretched the lead to 40-26
early in the second half before Kentucky launched its comeback.
Dunlap scored after a steal by Amani Franklin to cut the Lady
Bulldogs’ lead to 40-36, and a basket by Smith cut the lead to
Grimes hit back-to-back 3-pointers to push Mississippi State’s
lead to 53-46. Kentucky scored the next eight points. Following the
final tie at 57-all, Kentucky took control with a 12-2 run capped
by a 3-pointer by Mathies.