Victoria Dunlap doesn't mind being the center of attention, but being the center of Kentucky's offense is another story.
Last season Coach Matthew Mitchell would criticize the sophomore forward for passing up opportunities to be great.
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"You'd see her be content with going and hiding on offense," Mitchell said.
But that's not the case so far this season and definitely not Monday night against Cincinnati.
Dunlap put up a career-high 22 points in the Cats' 58-55 win over Cincinnati in front of 3,715 in Memorial Coliseum. It was the program's 300th victory at the venue.
"I'm proud as I can be of her," Mitchell said of Dunlap, who also had six rebounds, two blocks and two steals. "She's come out of the gate strong."
Dunlap wasn't the only one that impressed Mitchell. He was happy to see his team fight back from a quick 12-point deficit and then an eight-point hole early in the second half.
"I'm always proud to be the coach at Kentucky," he said, "but I'm awfully proud of our team tonight for winning this game."
It looked in doubt early as Cincinnati grabbed a 12-point lead on a Kahla Roudebush shot in the lane. The junior guard who led the Bearcats in scoring last season with 16.5 points a game, had her average before the break.
By the end of the game, Roudebush had a game-high 29 points, but Dunlap held her in check much of the second half.
The Bearcats went into the locker room on a five-point run to extend their lead to 33-25 after UK had cut it to three.
"We were a little bit discombobulated at one point," senior Eleia Roddy said, "but we came back and fixed it."
The fix came via eight unanswered points early in the second half, including six from Dunlap, to tie it at 38-38. She hit her first collegiate three-pointer in that span and another during a later run. She scored 17 of her 22 points in the second half.
The coaches "tried to tell me that I needed to do certain things for the team this season," she said. "I wouldn't say they threatened me, but they kind of put it on me to get some shots up."
A Dunlap putback with 10:36 left gave Kentucky its first lead of the game, 45-44. Another Dunlap rebound and made basket gave UK the lead for good, 51-50 with 6:33 remaining.
Those putbacks were the difference in the game, Cincinnati Coach J. Kelley Hall said.
"There were four big possessions where they got putbacks down the stretch there and that hurts," he said. "It's hard to overcome that: second-chance points, points in the paint, things like that."
Kentucky outrebounded the Bearcats 40-37 and had 17 offensive rebounds, translating into 12 second-chance points.
It was something Roddy and Dunlap said they pride themselves on.
"We want to keep pounding on teams and outrebounding teams," said Roddy, who had 14 points and a game-high nine rebounds (five offensive). "It's something we want to do every game."
Roddy said it's great knowing that Dunlap is in there battling with her.
"She's mad athletic and I just love that about her," Roddy said. "Just having her there on my team is a bonus because I don't have to do it all and she doesn't have to do it all."
The Cats' outside shooting showed it may have a pulse as well. Both Carly Morrow and Carly Ormerod were able to make three-pointers that helped open up the inside.
Morrow had three treys and finished with nine points. Ormerod made two threes.
A Morrow three-pointer with 5:28 gave UK a four-point lead, but a Roudebush driving basket kept it interesting and cut it to two points with a minute to go.
On the Bearcats' final possession, Amber Smith was able to swipe the ball away and seal the win with a made free throw with less than a second remaining.