When Matthew Mitchell made his way onto the court at Memorial Coliseum, the Kentucky coach knew it was going to be a special day.
"I was just so happy when I walked out and it was packed to the rafters," he said. "It was a great sight to see."
He was even more pleased with the show his No. 16 Kentucky team put on for the season-record 7,742 that showed up on Sunday for Senior Day.
What the fans saw was a 71-50 drilling of South Carolina, a team that had beaten UK by eight points in January.
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What they saw was Kentucky locking up at least second place in the Southeastern Conference with a huge game against first-place Tennessee in Knoxville looming.
But for one day at least, UK wanted to celebrate an undefeated, 17-0 record at home this season, which has only been done one other time in school history.
Mitchell mostly just wanted them to celebrate seniors Amani Franklin and Lydia Watkins, who both had big games.
Watkins had 10 points and six rebounds, and Franklin nine points and nine boards in the victory, which was UK's school-best 11th Southeastern Conference win.
Victoria Dunlap led all scorers with 16 points, nine rebounds and three steals in 25 minutes. A'dia Mathies had 10 points and seven rebounds for UK (23-4, 11-3 SEC).
Dunlap said the entire team was on a mission to send its seniors off with a win.
"We played hard because this is our last home game with them," she said. "Nobody wanted them to go out with a loss."
And the seniors, as well as the rest of the team, seemed on a mission to avenge that earlier loss to South Carolina.
"After that loss, we said 'It's going to be payback,'" Watkins said. "We knew they had to come here. ... Just to come out from the start and get that energy out there and let them know what type of game it was going to be."
The Cats raced out to a 9-1 lead, mostly scored on fast-break points.
"It was a big statement for us to make," Dunlap said.
"I think South Carolina knew we were serious about our business today right from the tip," he said.
When the Cats fell at South Carolina, they were outrebounded 40-29 and outscored in the paint 52-30.
In that earlier loss, UK also was beat on the break 10-2.
The numbers were flipped in Lexington, with Kentucky winning the rebounding battle 43-36 behind nine boards each from Franklin and Dunlap. UK won the points in the paint, too, 32-28.
UK outscored the Gamecocks 14-0 in transition, including 12 fast-break points in the first half, when Kentucky led by as many as 18 points.
Mitchell described it as "an incredible display of transition offense."
His players just described it as fun.
"It was great," Franklin said. "We knew going in we were going to be able to beat them down the court and they weren't able to stop us."
South Carolina, which was led by 6-foot-5 freshman Kelsey Bone's 13 points, fell to 13-13 and 6-7 in conference.
"We did a horrible job of getting the ball to Kelsey Bone in the first half," USC Coach Dawn Staley said.
Bone, who made 11 of her 14 shots and scored 23 against UK a month ago, made only five of her 14 attempts on Sunday. She also had five rebounds.
Charenee Stephens had 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Gamecocks, who lost their third in a row.
The Cats' 23 wins are the most they've had in 20 years, when the 1989-90 team went 23-8. UK is now three wins shy of the most wins in school history.
This one victory meant the world to UK's coach.
"I've had some good fortunate of being part of some wins in my career," Mitchell said. "But none is more satisfying than today because of our two seniors."
Riley has stress fracture
Backup point guard Crystal Riley has what is said to be a stress fracture in her right foot and could miss the remainder of the season.
Riley, a sophomore transfer from Louisiana State, will be evaluated on Monday. She was on UK's bench in a boot and on crutches. Riley is averaging 3.2 points a game and 15.7 minutes.
■ Carly Morrow, who has started 25 games this season, sat out with flulike symptoms. The junior guard is listed as day-to-day.