No. 2 Duke beats No. 5 Kentucky, 69-61

Kentucky is undefeated no more.

The fifth-ranked Wildcats had tied a record with 11 straight

victories to open the season, but their streak ended with a 69-61

loss to No. 2 Duke on Sunday.

Kentucky made history and broke a school attendance record with

23,706 in its lone game of the season at Rupp Arena. But its

nonconference winning streak was halted at 44 games.

Wildcats coach Matthew Mitchell was pleased with the crowd, but

obviously disappointed with the outcome.

”It was remarkable,” he said about the crowd that got loud as

the Wildcats mounted a second-half rally that got them to 59-55

with 6:07 remaining and 67-61 with 54 seconds left.

”If you’ve been around here as long as I have and been in the

league as long as I have, you’ve got some good perspective on what

today meant. I don’t want to beat ourselves up too much, because we

lost to a good team. They’re an excellent basketball team, but

gosh, I sure wanted to reward that great crowd with a

victory.”

Tricia Liston scored a season-high 28 points for the Blue Devils

(12-1), who frequently flexed their size advantage against the

Wildcats. The 6-foot-1 Liston thrived on mismatches to shoot 10 of

19 from the field, including two 3-pointers, falling a point short

of her career best.

Duke’s 6-3 center, Elizabeth Williams, was 6 of 10 to chip in 17

points and had eight rebounds.

The Blue Devils stifled Kentucky around the basket, limiting the

Wildcats to 25-of-75 shooting (33 percent) and 3 of 15 from long

range. Poor free throw shooting also doomed Kentucky, which made

just 8 of 19 from the line.

”They outworked us today and I think that’s what happens in

games with two really good teams going at it,” Mitchell said.

”They were just a team that worked harder. Not that our team

didn’t work hard, I just think Duke worked harder. You give them

credit. They did a nice job.”

Janee Thompson’s 12 points led Kentucky, which played its third

game without injured 6-3 forward DeNesha Stallworth, out three to

four weeks after having knee surgery.

The Wildcats started 0 for 5 from the field and fell behind 7-1

in the first 3 minutes before a 12-2 run turned it into a 13-9 lead

with 12 minutes remaining in the first half. Duke answered with a

20-6 run to regain the lead at 29-19 with 4 minutes left in the

first half as the Wildcats went more than 4 minutes without a field

goal.

Kentucky’s 10-of-35 shooting in the first half set the tone for

a frustrating offensive day – not that getting beat to the basket

on the other end was any better.

Samarie Walker said Kentucky’s slow start was the difference in

the outcome.

”We definitely need to come out with more energy from the start

and just let it fuel us throughout the game,” she said. ”I think

we started to wear down after we got down (early). We didn’t get

back up (on defense) and nobody was there to pick us up. One person

was trying and everybody else was in a lull.”

The Wildcats used four overtimes to defeat No. 9 Baylor 133-130

on Dec. 6 at Cowboys Stadium and had defeated its first two ranked

opponents. Kentucky trailed 36-27 at halftime against No. 7

Louisville on Dec. 1, but rallied for a 69-64 win.