UK Women's Basketball

Cats cruise to victory without Victoria

No Victoria Dunlap?

No problem.

Kentucky's leader in nearly every statistical category sat out with a mild concussion on Sunday, forcing the Cats to go to a smaller lineup.

But that smaller group did lots of small things and grabbed a huge 91-39 victory over Florida A&M.

"I certainly would have rather had Vic, but I was happy that we were able to get that kind of win without her," UK Coach Matthew Mitchell said. "It's a real credit to our players coming out and staying focused."

With the victory, UK moved to an unbeaten 9-0 and matched the best start in program history in front of a season-high 4,608 at Memorial Coliseum.

Dunlap, the Cats' leading scorer and rebounder as well as its steals and blocks leader, missed her first start in 73 games. Senior Lydia Watkins started in her place, but everyone pitched in to make up the missing junior's numbers.

Two players matched or set new career highs for UK, including Rebecca Gray, who had 19 points, and Keyla Snowden, who finished with 15 points.

"I felt like there was no better time to step up and play my game than today," said Gray, a former Miss Basketball out of Scott County. "I was able to relax and finally get into a rhythm and play. It was fun."

Gray was a perfect six of six from the field. She also added three rebounds and two assists with no turnovers.

Two other players finished in double figures with A'dia Mathies' 11 points and Carly Morrow's 14 points. Four others scored six points or more for Kentucky.

Even more impressive than the offensive output was the defensive effort, Mitchell said.

Rattled by UK's defense, the Rattlers went the final 13:05 without a field goal. The Cats used a 29-4 run to close out the game from there.

Florida A&M made only three field goals in the second half and scored just 10 points on 10 percent shooting.

It was a season-low output for the Rattlers.

"You could see they were very frustrated," Gray said. "This shows right here that we can be very annoying and frustrating on defense."

Kentucky forced FAMU into 28 turnovers, the seventh time in nine games and the sixth straight time the Cats have forced their opponent into 20 or more miscues.

The Cats scored 33 points off of those mistakes.

The Rattlers (5-3) have now faced three SEC teams and own a win at Florida on Dec. 1. But they couldn't get another SEC win on the road.

UK's defense made sure of it.

"They played very aggressive defense, very aggressive," said Coach LeDawn Gibson, who coached UK point guard Amber Smith at Winter Haven High School. "It was like we left our game in the locker room."

Mathies set the tone early for the defense, getting four deflections in the first possession and finishing with six of UK's 15 steals.

"I tried to get my hands on as many balls as possible and I'm glad that could provide a spark," said Mathies, who set a career mark for steals. She also had a game-high five assists.

"We just tried to keep up the ball pressure and keep pushing on them and pushing on them and that really helped us out," she said.

Watkins had nine points, three rebounds and a career-high four steals. Amani Franklin added nine points and six rebounds. Reserve Brittany Henderson pitched in six points and nine rebounds.

UK's bench outscored Florida A&M 41-2.

The Rattlers were led by Antonia Bennett's 12 points and 10 rebounds. Tameka McKelton added 11 points.

The Cats will try to become the first Kentucky team to go 10-0 against archrival Louisville next Sunday. UK has lost five in a row to the Cardinals, who were the national runners-up last season.

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