COLUMBIA, Mo. — After facing Kentucky's defense, Missouri must have walked away feeling a bit like a dish at Waffle House: scattered, smothered and covered.
Sixth-ranked Kentucky's defense held the nation's hottest long-range shooting team to just two three-pointers and rode an early wave before cruising to its 15th straight victory, 69-43 over the Tigers.
"I often get excited about our players and how hard they play, but today I was so ecstatic with how hard they competed and how they really focused in on taking away what is a great, great weapon," Coach Matthew Mitchell said after UK held Missouri to a season-low two three-pointers. "We just kept hustling all day."
A week after the Tigers set a new Southeastern Conference record with 18 made three-pointers against Auburn, they hit just 10 percent from there against the Cats' pressure defense.
"We just knew that that was a big part of their game and we wanted to shut that down," senior guard A'dia Mathies said. "We did a great job of that, just chasing them off of the three-point line."
In particular, the Cats (16-1, 4-0 SEC) were able to smother and cover the Tigers' leading scorer, sophomore Morgan Eye, who came into the game leading the nation with 4.1 threes a game.
A trio led by UK point guard Jennifer O'Neill held Eye without a three-pointer for the first time this season and just four attempts.
"They pressured us a lot," said forward Bri Kulas, who went 1-for-8 from three-point range. "It was pretty good, probably the best we've seen all year. I think it is frustrating but we just need to keep our composure and be poised with the ball."
The frustration mounted early for the Tigers (12-6, 1-3), who hadn't lost in 11 tries at Missouri Arena this season. They watched Kentucky start the game with a 23-4 run in which six different players scored.
"To go on that kind of run at any point in the game is pretty special," Mitchell said. "We wanted to set a tone and I thought the players did a great job of that."
Kentucky (16-1, 4-0 SEC) had three players in double figures, led by DeNesha Stallworth's 17 points and five rebounds. It was the junior forward's 14th straight game in double figures.
Mathies added 14 points and five rebounds and O'Neill had 11 points (all in the second half), five rebounds and four assists in the win.
After UK's big run, the Tigers responded by scoring nine unanswered, initiated by a three-pointer from Kulas, who had nine points.
"We calmed down and gathered ourselves and played," forward Sydney Crafton said. The senior paced the Tigers with 11 points and nine rebounds.
Eye, Missouri's leading scorer at 14.4 points per game, didn't score until the final two minutes of the first half and finished with just six points.
A Stallworth shot in the lane ended a more than eight-minute stretch without a basket for Kentucky late in the first half, but Mitchell wasn't discouraged by the Cats' offensive drought.
"You're not going to shut them out," the coach said of Missouri. "You're not going to hold them to four points forever. ... We got a little down offensively. I told them don't confuse missed shots with bad offense."
Samantha Drake had a season-high nine points off the bench for UK. Bria Goss added nine points, five rebounds and three assists.
Kentucky continues to add to its school record for consecutive victories, now at 15, which is tied for best in the nation with Duke.
But Mitchell said the streak is never discussed because the team, one of just two unbeatens left in the SEC, has bigger things on its mind.
"What we're chasing right now are wins in the Southeastern Conference," he said. "We want very badly to compete for the championship. We want to be the best team in the league. We feel like we have that chance."