It was like Kentucky collectively clicked its hot pink Nikes and said:
"There's no place like home. There's no place like home. There's no place like home."
After losing three straight games on the road, No 13 Kentucky found its comfort zone in Memorial Coliseum and topped Vanderbilt 70-61 on Monday night.
The players, donning their pink uniforms and shooting shirts for the annual "Play for Kay" game, seemed to exhale as they got in front of the microphones after the game.
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"We needed this pretty badly," said senior Keyla Snowden, who had 14 points. "It just feels good to get the win and we're going to move forward from here."
It was the Cats' 19th straight win at home, tying the third-longest winning streak in school history and their ninth straight victory over a Southeastern Conference opponent at home.
After a miserable road stretch that included a loss to Alabama, which sits at the bottom of the conference standings, UK (22-5, 11-3 SEC) was able to right itself after dropping from its No. 7 ranking.
"Hopefully this is going to give us a big boost." Kentucky Coach Matthew Mitchell said. "However we could get it, we needed to get it. If it was one point, fine. I'm just really, really proud of our team."
Samarie Walker was a big part of it. The Connecticut transfer had her first career double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds — eight on the offensive end — as UK outrebounded the Commodores 40-29.
"Big night for her," Mitchell said of Walker, who had 13 points and eight boards at the break. "Unbelievable effort for her, especially in the first half."
He was especially impressed with her work on the offensive boards. Her eight on that end were more than Vandy had as a team on its end.
"Samarie was a monster on those," Mitchell said.
Walker was one of three UK players in double figures. Bria Goss added 12 points, including a crucial basket to end an eight-minute field-goal drought near the end of the game.
A'dia Mathies added nine points and seven rebounds.
Kentucky scored 11 consecutive points early in the game and held Vandy (20-7, 8-6) without a point for more than five minutes to grab a 14-4 lead.
A 7-0 run going into the break gave UK a 39-23 halftime lead, its largest advantage to that point.
The Kentucky lead ballooned to as much as 20 points five minutes into the second half before Vanderbilt clawed its way back to get within six points late.
The Commodores' pressure held UK without a basket for eight minutes, but hustle plays allowed Kentucky to prevail despite its offensive woes.
"We ran out of time," Vanderbilt Coach Melanie Balcomb said. "When we had an opportunity to get (the score) tighter, we turned it over. It's what we did the whole game."
The Commodores, who came in averaging 17 miscues a game, turned it over 24 times, which UK turned into 24 points.
Vanderbilt was led by Tiffany Clarke's 19 points and eight rebounds. Christina Foggie added 16 points.
The win tied a Kentucky season record for SEC wins with 11, and it gave the program its 650th victory.
"It's great," Mathies said of ending the three-game skid. "We had a few bad losses. Just to get back on the right track is great. Now we're going to keep the momentum going."
UK's Smith sits
Senior point guard Amber Smith didn't play Monday night. Mitchell said she's not 100 percent right now. She has been battling nagging foot and wrist injuries. The coach said she's lacking some explosiveness, and he's trying to get her some needed rest.