After a long exam week filled with ho-hum practices that left its coach scratching his head, the No. 13 Kentucky women's basketball team put together a humdinger of a win Saturday, 84-58 over Alabama A&M.
"It's such a tough week to get through, so I was really happy with the way they came out," Coach Matthew Mitchell said. "We got off to a great start and established ourselves as being an aggressive team."
Mitchell knew the Bulldogs, who were coming off perhaps the biggest win in school history, could be a dangerous opponent, but UK didn't leave much doubt early about how the game was going to go.
A quick 33-8 lead and eight players scoring was a good indicator.
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"We tried to stop them in transition and in half-court," Alabama A&M Coach Altherias Warmley said. "It didn't matter. They were stronger than us and played with a lot more intensity than we did."
Victoria Dunlap led the way with 22 points, five rebounds and four steals.
She was one of four Cats in double figures, including A'dia Mathies (16 points) and Keyla Snowden (15).
Mathies also had five rebounds, four assists and three steals in the win, Kentucky's third straight.
Brittany Henderson added a career-best 11 points, six rebounds and four steals for UK (8-1), which won its 22nd straight game in Memorial Coliseum.
Mitchell and his players were a big fan of the balance, which also included getting nine points, five rebounds, four assists and no turnovers from freshman point guard Maegan Conwright.
"It's what we're going to have to look like if we're going to be successful this season," Mitchell said of the balance.
Balance is a big plus, Snowden said.
"When teams scout us, of course they're going to key in on certain people, so if everybody else around them steps up, it takes some weight off their shoulders and makes us a more complete team," she said.
The Bulldogs didn't get into double digits until 13 minutes had gone by. Against UK's heavy pressure, they turned over the ball 10 times in that time frame. By the end of the game, UK had forced 31 turnovers and turned them into 36 points.
In the second half, UK had a lapse early before using a 17-1 run, including scoring 14 unanswered, to put the game out of reach. Snowden, who had three of her five three-pointers in that span, gave Kentucky its largest lead of the game, at 67-33 with 10:24 to go.
"That was much more like it ... that 14-0, 'drop the hammer and really put the game out of reach,' " Mitchell said. "There was a lot of energy."
Dunlap said it was good to see the team firing on all available cylinders.
"Just knowing that once we come together and play the way we're supposed to and the way Coach expects us to, we can play with anybody," Dunlap said.
The Southeastern Conference Player of the Year admitted to being more than a little frustrated during the game, during which she fought through double and triple teams in the post. She made just seven of her 19 attempts.
When asked about her frustrations, she smiled.
"Was it that obvious?" she asked. "It's difficult when you're trying to produce for your team and you're not getting what you want and you're getting hit at the same time and you want certain calls."
Ticket record set again
UK announced Saturday that the program set another all-time season-ticket sales record this season with 5,050 sold. It surpasses the previous record of 5,022 set last season. This is the seventh straight season that the Cats have sold at least 3,200 season tickets.