March Madness has started early.
During a first-round matchup of the SEC women’s basketball tournament, a heated brawl broke out between Kentucky and Florida players that resulted in eight ejections.
With less than six minutes left in the second quarter, Kentucky scored to go up 22-14 on the the Gators.
Kentucky’s junior forward Ajae Petty rebounded the ball and turned right into Florida’s sophomore forward Tatyana Wyche, giving the ball to her but pushing it up toward her face before running to the other side of the court.
An upset Wyche threw the ball down the court in frustration and started yelling as a referee blew his whistle.
It’s unclear if she was trying hit Petty with the ball.
Wyche began to walk faster toward Petty and eventually ran after her, but she only managed to get a shove at the Wildcat before officials and players got in Wyche’s way.
An official also guided Petty away from the scene that occurred in front of Kentucky’s bench.
A incident continued and players were separated from one another as a visibly upset Wyche was corralled to her bench by her coaches.
After a nearly 20-minute delay, Kentucky went on to win 72-57.
The Wildcats advance to the second round on Thursday to face No. 6 Alabama at 8 p.m.
Kentucky is struggling compared to last year, in which it posted an overall record of 19-12, won the SEC tournament 64-62 over the University of South Carolina, and went to the NCAA tournament but fell to Princeton University 62-69 in the first round.
Kentucky, ranked 13th out of 14 teams in the conference this season, is looking for a silver lining as it sits below .500 with an overall record of 10-18 and would need to win the tournament again to reach the Big Dance.
Florida was running on a slightly above average season, coming in as the 11th seed in the tournament with a 16-13 overall record.