South Carolina crushes Kentucky as Watkins provides highlight slam


COLUMBIA - Te-Hina Paopao and MiLaysia Fulwiley scored 14 points each and Ashlyn Watkins had her second career dunk as No. 1 South Carolina rolled past Kentucky 98-36 on Monday night.

Kamilla Cardoso had 12 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks as the Gamecocks (16-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) stayed perfect as the country's last undefeated team.

They began their day with a Martin Luther King Jr. Day visit from Vice President Kamala Harris. They ended it with a bit of Showtime from some of their most dynamic players.

The highlight was Watkins, the 6-foot-3 sophomore, who stole the ball in the Kentucky end, dribbled up court alone and threw down a right-handed jam for the program's second dunk ever to go along with her jam as a freshman in a win over Clemson in November 2022.

The play is something Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley saw often out of Watkins in high school and in practices.

"I saw her pick the ball up and I was like, 'OK, she's going to dunk,'" Staley said.

The crowd went crazy after Watkins' slam. But the thrill ride was far from over.

Fulwiley was on a fast break when she hit the second of three first-half 3-pointers, then hit the foul shot to put the Gamecocks ahead 23-13. On the next possession, Fulwiley delivered a long 3-pointer that again had people out of their seats.

Raven Johnson and Tessa Johnson had 11 points each and Watkins scored 10.

Cardoso posted her ninth double-double of the season and 25th of her career.

Saniah Tyler had 13 points to lead the Wildcats (8-10, 1-3), who were held to their fewest points since a 50-40 loss to Georgia last February.


Kentucky: The Wildcats had hoped their outside shooting might keep them in the game, but they missed 11 of 12 shots during one stretch of the second quarter and quickly found themselves down by 20 points.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks continued looking much more polished and relentless than expected when the season began. After early wins over ranked opponents in Notre Dame, Maryland, North Carolina and Utah, South Carolina has taken its four SEC games by an average margin of 32 points.


The Gamecocks and Kentucky got a visit from Vice President Kamala Harris during their shootaround earlier Monday. Harris was in town for an MLK Day event at the South Carolina Statehouse and talked with coach Dawn Staley and the undefeated Gamecocks.

Staley said Harris wanted to visit with both teams.

"I think her reach is really far," Staley said of her first meeting with Harris. "I wanted our players to feel that."


Kentucky returns home to play Missouri on Sunday.

South Carolina heads to Texas A&M on Sunday.