NASHVILLE — A few ho-hum shooting performances had A'dia Mathies spending extra time in the gym this week.
That did not bode well for Vanderbilt on Sunday.
The Kentucky senior scored a season-best 28 points, the third-highest scoring game of her career, in the No. 8 Cats' 75-53 throttling of the Commodores.
"She was aggressive today," UK Coach Matthew Mitchell said of Mathies, who also had five assists and three steals. "It's difficult to beat us when she's playing that well.
"She played like the Player of the Year that she is. ... She continues to step up and play like a senior who's on a mission."
Mathies looked to be on a mission in the first half, when she scored Kentucky's final nine points, including a three-pointer with four seconds to go that silenced the Memorial Gymnasium crowd.
"If she's on like that, all we've got to do is just crash the boards, but there's not too many rebounds to get," said junior forward Samarie Walker, one of three other Kentucky players in double figures with 10 points and a game-best 13 rebounds.
Bria Goss added 15 points and Jennifer O'Neill 10 points in the win, UK's fifth straight over the Commodores and its largest ever at Memorial Gymnasium.
Mathies made 10 of her 17 shot attempts, including five three-pointers. For the game, UK hit 45.5 percent from long range.
The 22-point victory was one point shy of tying UK's biggest win over Vandy (15-8, 5-5 Southeastern Conference).
"You go as your best player goes," Vanderbilt Coach Melanie Balcomb said. "For them that's been her. When she's hot, they're going to be very difficult (to stop)."
It took Mathies 15 minutes to score 10 points and move into third place on Kentucky's all-time scoring list. With 1,815 career points, Mathies trails former teammate Victoria Dunlap (1,846), who was at the game, for No. 2 on the list.
Valerie Still is No. 1 on the UK women's scoring list with 2,763 points.
Kentucky (21-3, 9-2) forced the Commodores into 24 turnovers — three short of their season high — and turned those mistakes into 27 points. Vanderbilt came into the game averaging 16.7 miscues and had 15 by the half.
That and UK's ability to score points in transition was doomsday for Vanderbilt.
"They brought their strengths tonight and we didn't take them away," Balcomb said.
The Commodores looked strong early on. They hit eight of their first 10 shots to grab a 17-15 lead, but that was their last advantage in the game.
The Cats held Vanderbilt without a point for five minutes. Vandy missed 11 shots and coughed up the ball eight times during a 16-5 UK run.
"We started off decent, but they just kept fighting back and fighting back," guard Jasmine Lister said.
Vanderbilt was led by Tiffany Clarke's 20 points and nine rebounds, but the Commodores struggled to get the ball to their workhorse against UK's perimeter pressure.
Balcomb was especially displeased that UK outrebounded Vanderbilt 39-27, including 18-8 on offensive rebounds. The Cats outscored the Commodores 14-2 on second-chance points.
A second-half surge helped Vanderbilt pull within 40-34 with 13 minutes to play before UK responded with back-to-back three-pointers from Goss and Mathies.
"We just made some tough shots and kids stepped up and made some tough shots and played with some energy," Mitchell said of the second half, when UK shot 53.1 percent. "Our transition game was finally able to break it open."
When things were going well, Kentucky looked impossible to stop.
Everything opened up, Walker said.
"If we play this way all the time, we can still reach our goal of winning the SEC championship and the national championship."
UK's top scorers
1. Valerie Still 2,763
2. Victoria Dunlap 1,846
3. A'dia Mathies 1,815
4. Leslie Nichols 1,797
5. Samantha Mahoney 1,601
Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog: ukwomen.bloginky.com