COLUMBIA, Mo. — Kentucky didn't have much time to feel sorry for itself after a loss last weekend.
There was no moping or hoping for Kentucky.
After a bad loss at Louisiana State a week ago, the No. 14 Cats picked themselves up by picking up the pace.
"We spent some time together asking 'Why did we play the way we played in Baton Rouge?'" Coach Matthew Mitchell said. "We really tried to examine that. The players did a great job, brought it to me, said: 'If we're going to be who we need to be, we need to get up and down.'"
The Cats showed some rust when they put pedal to metal, allowing Missouri to make 13 three-pointers and falling behind early, but they showed some glimpses of the team Mitchell thinks they can become in the 83-69 win over the Tigers on Sunday.
The score was tied at 50 when Kentucky's defense started to look like its old self, holding the Tigers to just two field goals in the final nine minutes of the game.
After hitting 46.2 percent from the field in the first half, Missouri made just six of 29 attempts (20.7 percent) in the second half.
When the Tigers tied it at 50 a few minutes into the second half, Mitchell turned to his team and said, "We're not backing up, we're not falling back, we're not retreating. We're going to charge here in the second half and see what we can do."
Eventually the pace and the pressure, which forced 22 Tigers turnovers, seemed to wear the home team down.
"They're just so energetic and quick and they know how to use their hands to get you to get nervous and try to get you to play puckered up and not with more poise," said Missouri's Maddie Stock, who scored 11 of her 14 points in the first half.
Sierra Michaelis paced Missouri (11-9, 1-6 Southeastern Conference) with 16 points, seven rebounds and six assists, but she turned the ball over seven times.
Kentucky's pressure led to some easy baskets in transition and some that weren't so easy off the hands of senior guard Jennifer O'Neill, who scored 15 of her game-best 19 points in the second half.
"Jennifer O'Neill is just a special player and does a lot of things real, real well," Missouri Coach Robin Pingeton.
O'Neill was one of five Kentucky players in double figures, including double-doubles for sophomore guards Makayla Epps (18 points, 10 rebounds) and Linnae Harper (15 points, 11 rebounds).
Bria Goss added 16 points, three rebounds and three steals and Alexis Jennings had 10 points and six rebounds off the UK bench.
Kentucky is hopeful that it won't take 30 minutes for its defense to kick in moving forward.
When the Cats' numbers were low with Goss and forward Jelleah Sidney out with injuries and then when Janee Thompson went out for the season with a broken leg, Mitchell said the team did what it had to do to win games.
The Cats (16-4, 5-2) stopped practicing their pressure defense. They got away from the identity that has made them so successful the past few seasons.
That's the focus in practice now, said Harper, who had four steals.
"Kentucky has made its name off being 40 minutes of dread and being a suffocating (defense), showing effort," she said. "So I think we just need to go back to just practicing and repetition and working on defense."
When UK reviewed the LSU loss, one thing flew off the tape: "We were sort of listless at LSU ... and we can't be that way. We have to be energetic; the press sort of forces you ... to the spot where you have to be the aggressor," Mitchell said.
So the Cats will try to go back to doing what they do best and re-establish their identity in time for upcoming games against No. 5 Tennessee on Thursday and No. 22 Georgia on Sunday.
"We have about 34 days here until the SEC Tournament and we just need to get committed and get tough and stay the course," Mitchell said.
"We're not where we believe we're going to be, but it was necessary that we played that way today. So pleased the players didn't get discouraged and kept battling, felt like the last 10 minutes was our game there. We really played some disruptive defense, made some tough shots."