UK Women's Basketball

UK women rout Miss. Valley State

It didn't have all of the glitz and sparkle of a New Year's Eve bash, but less than 24 hours after the ball dropped, Kentucky had thoroughly bashed Mississippi Valley State 93-48.

In the first half on Friday night, it looked like the Cats might have stayed out a bit too late on Dec. 31. They seemed sluggish and low on energy at times.

Coach Matthew Mitchell promised that wasn't the problem.

"It was not because we stayed out last night," he said, adding that the players had an 11 p.m. curfew. "I told them to ring in the New Year with Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest."

UK, coming off its first loss of the season at Middle Tennessee State on Monday night, was able to shake off that slow start and dominate the second half, forcing a season-best 40 turnovers and handing the Devilettes their worst loss of the season.

Mitchell said the energy boost didn't come because he raised his voice about the slim 14-point advantage UK had at halftime.

"It was not fire and brimstone at halftime," he said. "You could see that everyone in the room knew that we weren't playing up to the standard that this team set."

Junior standout Victoria Dunlap explained it best.

"At halftime we just talked about playing Kentucky basketball, playing defense," said Dunlap, who led all scorers with 21 points and five steals in 26 minutes.

Dunlap and fellow junior Amber Smith were both playing slightly under the weather, Mitchell said.

The Devilettes came in averaging 22 turnovers a game, but UK's press forced many, many more in front of the 5,921 at Memorial Coliseum on Friday.

"We just wore down," Mississippi Valley State Coach Nate Kilbert said. "They kept pressuring us and pressuring us. ... Their pressure was just awesome."

Freshman A'dia Mathies led the way with a career-high eight steals to go with 15 points, four assists and three rebounds.

"I was trying to be aggressive," Mathies said of her defense. "Coach told us our defense was as great as our offense. It was just us being aggressive and playing hard."

UK turned the 40 miscues into 44 points and nine different players scored five points or more for the Cats, who shot 47.1 percent from the field.

It was the 10th straight game that UK forced 20 or more turnovers.

At one point midway through the second half, UK forced seven straight MVSU turnovers and kept the Devilettes without a field goal for more than 4 minutes. In that span, Kentucky scored 12 unanswered.

Carly Morrow added 11 points for UK, which begins what Mitchell described as the "tough stuff," on Thursday when it opens Southeastern Conference play at No. 9 Georgia.

No. 18 Vanderbilt will be at Memorial Coliseum next weekend.

Lydia Watkins had three steals to go with her nine points and four rebounds.

Rebecca Gray also added nine points off the UK bench, which outscored the MVSU reserves 34-7.

A few of the problem areas Kentucky had at Middle Tennessee showed themselves again on Friday night. UK was outrebounded 42-40 and managed to make just 56.1 percent of its free throws.

The Cats came into the game shooting better than 70 percent from the stripe.

MVSU, which fell to 3-8, got 17 points from guard Ashley Brown, who also had 12 turnovers.