Vic Schaefer probably is wishing he'd sent Matthew Mitchell's calls to voicemail a few years ago.
That's when the Kentucky coach called the then-Texas A&M defensive guru to pick his brain about implementing the Aggies' aggressive, pressure-packed defense at UK.
Last night Mitchell's fifth-ranked Kentucky team used that same defense to pick apart Mississippi State 100-47 for the Cats' biggest Southeastern Conference victory in history.
"That's a great basketball team," said Schaefer, now the first-year coach for the Bulldogs. "There are very few great teams ... Coach Mitchell's got that here at Kentucky. It's not what they do, but how they do it that separates them."
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
DeNesha Stallworth and A'dia Mathies aided in that separation.
Stallworth scored 18 of her UK career-high 25 points in the first half and added six rebounds and four assists. She had a little extra motivation with her dad, Chris Stallworth, in town from California.
The junior transfer missed her first three shots, but not many more as she paced UK early, scoring 18 points in 16 minutes. "My dad is here and I'm a daddy's girl, so he's here, and he's also staying for the Auburn game, so I was very excited for him to be here," she said. "For me to do good means a lot."
Stallworth, who had 30 points in a game as a freshman at Cal, wasn't alone in her 20-plus point performance for the Cats (17-1, 5-0 SEC). She was joined by Mathies, who added 21 points and six rebounds in 24 minutes.
Both of them sat much of the second half after the Cats used a monster 27-2 run between the two halves to dominate the Bulldogs, who lost to UK by a combined 84 points last season.
Schaefer, no doubt, regretted giving Mitchell the defensive tutorial as the Cats took MSU to school, forcing them into a season-high tying 35 turnovers.
That stat leaped off the page for Mitchell, whose team won its 16th straight game and its 32nd in a row at home.
"Even if you have an advantage in talent in the game, you've still got to really hustle to do that," said Mitchell, whose team turned those into 42 points. "That's the thing that's impressed me most about this team lately is they're really hustling."
That same hustle carried over to rebounding, where Kentucky had a decisive 46-20 advantage. The Cats had more offensive rebounds (26) than the Bulldogs had boards. In fact, UK's starters had more rebounds (24) than MSU.
Senior reserve Brittany Henderson led Kentucky on the boards with eight. Kentucky, which won its sixth straight over State, got 35 second-chance points to six for the Bulldogs, who fell to 8-10 and 0-5 in the league.
"Coach always tells us the champions of the SEC are great offensive rebounding teams," Mathies said. "We just wanted to crash the boards on both sides."
When asked about having more offensive rebounds than MSU had rebounds, Mathies shrugged. "We just jumped pretty high today, just got it done," he said. "We attacked the boards religiously."
The Cats, who matched a season-high for points with 100, shot 50 percent from the field and 41.2 percent from three-point range.
"Not a lot to complain about on offense," Mitchell said simply of his team, which had 11 of its 12 players score. Bria Goss added 13 points and five rebounds.
Samarie Walker added nine points and six rebounds and point guard Jennifer O'Neill added six points, seven assists and four steals in the rout. Kendra Grant paced the Bulldogs with 11 points and Carnecia Williams added 10 points.
Bishop back early
Before Thursday's game, Mitchell told the media not to expect sophomore forward Azia Bishop to return any time soon as she recovers from a small fracture in her left wrist.
But she surprised him with a good practice on Wednesday and she played nine minutes Thursday night, scoring two points and grabbing four rebounds.
Auburn at Kentucky
When: Sunday, 2 p.m.