Kentucky women rout Morehead State 73-37

jsmith3@herald-leader.comNovember 23, 2012 

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Tom Hodges wouldn't mind standing out at 4 a.m. in the freezing cold on the day after Thanksgiving to get some of what Kentucky's got.

The No. 9 Cats used a major size advantage to make Black Friday all blue with a 73-37 throttling of Morehead State.

"I wish we could go to a Black Friday sale and buy us a few more inches," said Hodges, the Eagles' coach whose team had its rebounding total tripled by Kentucky 63-21 on Friday afternoon in Memorial Coliseum.

But Hodges said the Cats have something money can't buy.

"There is no alleviating that type of physicality," he said. "That is the one thing that this year's team has. ... There's just an influx of physicality. They are not just tall; they are imposing. I think that is what makes this maybe their best team."

For the first time since 2009, the Cats had two players finish with double-doubles, paced by forward Samarie Walker's 15 points and 13 rebounds and DeNesha Stallworth's 10 points and 10 boards.

Azia Bishop was one point shy of her own double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds. It would've been the first time the Cats had three players notch double-doubles since 1989.

When asked about the team's rebounding edge, Walker looked winded just thinking about it.

"It takes a huge effort; I know all of us were tired," Walker said. "We all ran up to the huddle and were like, 'Man, I'm hit.' We just have to just keep pushing and making those hustle plays and it will all pay off in the end."

Walker, Bishop and Stallworth combined to get eight of UK's 10 blocks against the Eagles, who were held to 28.8 percent shooting and just seven offensive rebounds. The Cats outscored Morehead in the paint 46-12.

"I really challenged our post players," Cats Coach Matthew Mitchell said. "They have been given a lot of gifts. We have some athletic, fast, tall and long post players and I just didn't feel like we had been as active as we needed to be. I thought we were more active today."

Kentucky (3-1) never had much of a challenge on Friday, despite not playing as fluidly offensively as it might have liked. The Cats used a giant 30-9 run to end the first half up 36-13. Walker had 10 points at the break.

"I wish some of her shots had fallen and she could have had a really monster day," Mitchell said of the junior, who went just 5-for-11, but also had three assists and two steals.

It wasn't the Eagles, it was another bird (chicken) that caused the only real moments of anxiety for Cats fans on Friday afternoon.

All fans in attendance get free chicken as a part of a season-long promotion, as long as UK gets to 35 points by halftime. The Cats sat at 34 points and missed seven straight shots in the final minute before Bishop scored on an inbounds play one second before the halftime horn.

UK struggled from the field early, missing its first eight three-pointers and connecting on just 34 percent of its shots from the field in the first half.

The good news for the Cats is their defense made sure it didn't matter.

They held Morehead State (1-4) to 24 percent shooting in the first half, including 10 percent from three-point range. By the end of the game, UK had forced 24 turnovers and turned them into 26 points.

Kentucky got 11 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals from senior A'dia Mathies. Bria Goss added 10 points and seven rebounds for UK, which led by as many as 42 points.

The win extended Kentucky's streak to 23 straight at home and 34 in a row over non-conference opponents at home.

It was the Cats' ninth straight victory over the Eagles, who were led by six points apiece from Whitney Kyle and Mackenzie Arledge.

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241Twitter: @jenheraldleaderBlog: ukwomen.bloginky.com

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