Kentucky looked all sorts of out of sorts.
Against a Belmont team that had been drubbed by 60 points at Louisville a month ago, the No. 8 Cats had no rhythm, no timing, no flow.
But they still had enough oomph to pull out the 71-55 victory in Memorial Coliseum on Sunday night.
It was a win, but it was a frustrating one for Coach Matthew Mitchell, who is still waiting for his team to put together a complete game with a strong effort from whistle to horn.
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"We just don't seem to really try to play our best," the UK coach said. "It just seems like we kind of play for whatever the situation's asking. I don't like that. I don't think that's a great policy in life."
He was so confounded with the Cats' starting five that he subbed in five off the bench two minutes into the game.
"That was not my plan to start the game," he said. "I was very disappointed with how our first unit came out and played.
"For us, it's sort of all or nothing, feast or famine."
The Kentucky bench helped bail out the Cats (10-1) by scoring 44 of their 71 points in the win, their sixth in a row.
Reserve Azia Bishop set the tone and a new season high with her 15 points and 12 rebounds. The senior forward had started most of the season, but has come off the Cats bench the past two games and played well.
"I loved her fight today," Mitchell said of Bishop, who had four blocks and three steals as well. "I thought she had some really great moments of fight and really there for the first portion of the game, at times, she was the only one. So it's good for her."
Bishop, who said she doesn't mind coming off the bench because she can see the pace of the game early, has been extra motivated the past couple of games.
"That's given me the extra push, the extra oomph to come in and play hard," Bishop said.
Fellow reserve Linnae Harper added 12 points and seven rebounds. Alexis Jennings pitched in 10 points and five boards in 14 minutes.
The only UK starter to finish in double figures was Janee Thompson, who scored 10 of her 12 points in the second half.
"We got off to a slow start, but we've done that before," Bishop said. "We did a great job of turning it around in the second half. We just need to get past that little slow start thing."
Eventually, Belmont (2-7) wore down under the waves of players and the tempo of the game.
"Those are superb athletes we just played," Coach Cameron Newbauer said. "We played our hearts out for 40 minutes, but (our players) did get a little gassed at the end."
A former assistant at Georgia and Louisville, Newbauer knew the type of pressure UK can put on a team.
"It works," he said. "It wears you down mentally, physically, and they're great at it. They are."
But he was happy with how well his team handled it for a large portion of the game, getting 13 points from Taylor Mills and 10 points apiece from Sierra Jones and Jordyn Luffman-Hartsfield.
Kentucky has a week to regroup before facing No. 13 Duke in Cameron Indoor Arena on Dec. 21.
Senior Bria Goss played only three minutes in the win and had an ice bag on her left (non shooting) hand. The guard injured her thumb in shoot around that morning, but Mitchell wasn't sure about the severity of the injury. Doctors will X-ray the hand on Monday, he said.
■ Jelleah Sidney missed her seventh straight game while battling tendinitis in her knee. Mitchell said the tentative plan is to rest the knee through the holiday break and try to bring the senior forward back slowly.
"She is working and trying to get some cardio, get in some shape," he said. "There's just some finite number of plays left in that knee. She has some very painful tendinitis, so we're trying to work that out and treat that now and then just see where she is."