Epps rallies UK past Mississippi State

Kentucky overcame a 15-point, second-half deficit Friday night to overcome No. 11 Mississippi State and earn a spot in the women's SEC Tournament semifinals.

Sophomore guard Makayla Epps (pictured above) poured in 31 points to lead the Wildcats to a 76-67 win at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock, Ark. It was her second huge performance against the Bulldogs in the last month, having scored a career-high 42 in UK's double-overtime victory on Feb. 12.

Epps scored 11 straight points during a decisive 24-4 run to lift Kentucky (23-8) into Saturday's semifinals against No. 5 Tennessee. The Lady Vols won both regular season matchups against the Cats.

"I've always heard my dad (former UK standout Anthony Epps) say it's hard to beat a team three times, so I'm just going to see what tomorrow brings for us," the sophomore guard said.

Jennifer O'Neill added 18 points for UK. Azia Bishop followed with nine points, while Bria Goss chipped in with eight points and seven rebounds for the Cats, who overcame severe foul trouble to upset the Bulldogs.

"We were tough tonight, and that's what we've been asking of them," said UK coach Matthew Mitchell, who has guided the program to six consecutive appearances in the semifinals. "It's good for the Wildcats. We're playing on Saturday."

No. 3 South Carolina will face LSU in the other semifinal game.

Mississippi State (26-6), which once led 54-39, got 19 points from Victoria Vivians and 17 points and 10 rebounds from Martha Alwal. The Cats shot 52.2 percent in the second half compared to 36.7 percent for the Bulldogs.

''I thought they took us out of a lot of things because of how hard they played defensively,'' sai MSU coach Vic Schaefer. ''And then, obviously, we had a hard time guarding Epps. She probably wants to see me in a best out of seven (series), I'm sure."

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