DULUTH, Ga. (AP) — Kentucky's big edge in SEC tournament semifinals experience won out over South Carolina's regular-season title.
Bria Goss scored 14 points and No. 12 Kentucky upset No. 5 South Carolina 68-58 Saturday to advance to the Southeastern Conference tournament championship game.
DeNesha Stallworth and Linnae Harper each had 12 points for Kentucky (24-7), which will play Sunday in its fourth SEC tournament final in the last five years. The Wildcats, who won their only title in 1982, will play Tennessee, which beat Texas A&M 86-77.
South Carolina, playing in only its second semifinal, never made a serious comeback bid, pulling no closer than eight points in the second half.
"We wanted it," Stallworth said. "I mean, at the end of the day we just wanted to win. We knew that we couldn't, you know, have them come close. We tried to answer back and play incredible defense even if they scored. ... Stay in attack mode. They couldn't stop us when we were in full force."
Kentucky lost to Texas A&M in last year's final and lost to Tennessee in the 2010 and 2011 finals.
Now the Wildcats have another chance to win that elusive championship.
"I'm really, really happy about today," said Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell. "But I do want to stay focused on what we came down here to do, and that's to win the championship.
"I would really be happy for them if they can prepare and finish the job tomorrow."
South Carolina (27-4), the SEC regular-season champion, struggled early. The Gamecocks committed 16 turnovers, most coming in the first 10 minutes.
The Gamecocks' only previous semifinal appearance came in 2012.
"Obviously, we're disappointed in losing the basketball game, but more disappointed in how we played," said South Carolina coach Dawn Staley. "This is the first I've seen our team play this poorly all season long. Obviously, the first half was one that we couldn't recover from."
Kentucky had only five turnovers.
"We probably had more poise and patience today than I've seen in a long time," Mitchell said.