WACO, Texas — First Baylor unfurled its 2012 championship banner, then the Bears showed why they're the unquestioned favorite to win another one.
Behind a dominant performance from 6-foot-8 superstar Brittney Griner, the Bears showed the gap between No. 1 in the nation and No. 6 is as wide as Texas.
As was the final margin: Baylor 85, Kentucky 51.
"I feel terrible we weren't more prepared and I have to shoulder that as a head coach," UK's Matthew Mitchell said. "I wish we had played better. ... I wish we'd done a better job tonight because there were a lot of people excited for this game."
Unfortunately for the Cats, one of the people excited about this game was Griner. The reigning National Player of the Year looked every bit the part with 27 points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots in the rout.
She was one of four Baylor players to score in double figures.
Junior point guard Odyssey Sims added 18 points, six assists and four steals. Destiny Williams added 14 points and a game-high 12 rebounds for the Bears, who outrebounded Kentucky 53-35.
Baylor (2-0) used a giant 25-4 run in the first half to put aside any doubt that they would get their 42nd straight victory in the State Farm Women's Tip-Off Classic.
The Bears' big run had Kentucky running for the hills.
"Once they made their run we lost focus, we lost a lot of energy," junior forward Samarie Walker said. "There was no leadership from us and everybody went into a shell and we never really came out of it."
Kentucky (1-1) wasn't playing its best early, but still looked like it might match up well enough, pulling within four points, 15-11, with seven minutes in on an A'dia Mathies three-pointer.
But that just seemed to make the Bears angry.
Griner scored six of Baylor's next eight points as a part of that big surge.
In that span, UK went more than five minutes without scoring and Baylor continued its spree.
"We didn't key on any one player," Baylor Coach Kim Mulkey said. "We just played our Baylor defense and what we're proud of and what we've been taught to do."
A Bria Goss three-pointer stopped the bleeding, then UK returned to life support.
"We're going to evaluate this game and really humble ourselves," said the sophomore guard, who scored 11 points for UK, which hit just 27.1 percent of its shots (19 of 70) and just 18.5 percent of its shots from long range.
Kentucky settled for shots that Baylor wanted it to take.
"I don't know how you could fault Baylor for anything they did tonight," Mitchell said. "They played excellent defense and Griner is such an imposing figure around the basket."
Mathies led the Cats with 12 points, four rebounds and four assists, but the reigning Southeastern Conference Player of the Year struggled mightily from the field, making just three of her 18 attempts and one of her seven tries from three-point range.
In the first half, Kentucky made just two of its 14 three-point attempts and shot 20 percent from the field. The Bears made 62 percent of their shots, mostly on layups.
The Bears took an insurmountable 46-19 lead in the half behind 12 points apiece for Griner and Sims. Williams had 10 points and seven rebounds for the Bears, who outrebounded UK 27-14 in the first half.
Even after dominating Kentucky, Mulkey lamented that some of the stat lines weren't as pretty as the Bears would like, noting that a lot of those issues came in the garbage minutes with subs in the game.
But the fact that Baylor was using subs in this game at all said something, its coach said.
"When you're able to play your entire team on national television against the sixth-ranked team in the country, you're doing something right."
Perhaps even something banner worthy.
Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241Twitter: @jenheraldleaderBlog: ukwomen.bloginky.com