No. 8 Kentucky 70, No. 10 Texas A&M 66
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP)
Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell has been imploring DeNesha Stallworth to do more for the eighth-ranked Wildcats.
It appears he finally got through to his center.
Stallworth had 12 points, 12 rebounds and a school-record seven blocks as Kentucky held off No. 10 Texas A&M 70-66 on Monday night.
Mitchell said Stallworth had a different look in her eyes before the game, and he had a feeling she'd have a big night.
''Her toughness,'' Mitchell replied when asked what he liked about her performance. ''She just came out real aggressive. ... That's what we need to be the kind of team we can be.''
Texas A&M coach Gary Blair raved about Stallworth's play.
''Stallworth hurt us the whole night,'' Blair said. ''She's quick on her feet. We couldn't control her.''
Stallworth's previous high in blocks was four. She said her attitude was the key to her big night.
''Just being confident and believing in myself,'' she said. ''I thought it was really important for me to step up. I felt confident. I was just hoping I did good.''
Courtney Walker scored four quick points, the last two when she drove hard to the basket for a layup, to trim Texas A&M's deficit to 66-64 with about a minute remaining.
Kentucky (23-3, 11-2 SEC) missed a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired, but it bounced off the rim and Stallworth batted the rebound to Bria Goss for an easy layup that made it 68-64.
Mitchell was relieved to get a little cushion with that play.
''I didn't know if we could stop Courtney Walker again,'' he said. ''It was a really impressive stretch she had there.''
Walker was fouled on a made jump shot with 4 seconds left and purposely missed the ensuing free throw. But Goss grabbed the rebound and hit two free throws to seal it.
Walker's 20 points led Texas A&M (20-6, 10-2), which lost for the first time since a 65-62 defeat Jan. 10 at Kentucky in the first-ever meeting between the schools.
The Aggies reeled off eight straight wins after that, before Kentucky extended its winning streak to four games with Monday's victory.
Kentucky had just finished a big run when the Aggies went on one of their own, using a 16-6 spurt to cut the lead to 64-60 with about 4 1/2 minutes remaining. Kentucky's offense went cold during that stretch and the Wildcats didn't score for 3 minutes.
Walker had six points to power the run for the Aggies.
Texas A&M got within two early in the second half before Kentucky went on a 16-4 run to push the lead to 58-44 midway through the period. The Aggies went without scoring for more than 5 minutes and had four turnovers to help the Wildcats build the lead.
Texas A&M's Kelsey Bone, who won Southeastern Conference player of the week honors after scoring 31 points in the Aggies' last game, was held to nine points with 10 rebounds on Monday.
''We just tried to swarm her and get as many help defenders as we could,'' Kentucky's A'dia Mathies said.
Mathies added 13 points, all in the second half, for the Wildcats. Kastine Evans scored 12 and Samarie Walker had nine points and 11 rebounds.
The Aggies committed 18 turnovers that led to 29 points for Kentucky.
Kristi Bellock had 12 points and 15 rebounds for A&M, and Adrienne Pratcher scored 12.
Texas A&M jumped out to a 9-2 lead and was up by six points with about 14 minutes left in the first half. The Wildcats used a 19-6 run to overcome the deficit and take a 28-21 advantage with 6 minutes left before halftime. Walker and Janee Thompson scored six points apiece during that span, and the Aggies had three turnovers.
Kentucky led 40-34 at halftime.