No. 5 Kentucky 100, Mississippi St. 47

DeNesha Stallworth’s night started with the Kentucky forward

receiving a specially-marked game ball recognizing her recently

surpassing 1,000 career points.

Stallworth ended it with her Wildcats career high, scoring 25

points to help No. 5 Kentucky move to 17-1 for the best start in

school history with a 100-47 rout of Mississippi State on

Thursday.

After missing her first three shots, Stallworth made 9 of her

final 12 for her best game with Kentucky. She fell five points

short of her career high achieved against USC as a California

freshman in January 2010. She’s in her first season with the

Wildcats after sitting out last season following her transfer.

”I rushed a couple of shots,” said Stallworth, who also had

six rebounds and four assists. ”I have to continue to play tough

and play through contact, so that’s something I have to work

on.”

Stallworth’s performance keyed a night of milestones for the

Wildcats, who moved past the 1982-83 team which opened 16-1.

Kentucky’s 53-point victory margin was its largest over an SEC

opponent in school history, while its 35 turnovers and 17 steals

were also SEC highs. The Wildcats scored 42 points off

turnovers.

A’dia Mathies added 21 points and Bria Goss had 13 as Kentucky

(17-1, 5-0 Southeastern Conference) also extended its school-record

winning streak to 16 games and its record home streak to 32.

Kendra Grant had 11 points and Carnecia Williams 10 for

Mississippi State (8-10, 0-5), which lost its fifth straight

overall and sixth in a row to Kentucky. It was also the Bulldogs’

second consecutive lopsided loss on the Wildcats’ home floor,

following a 48-point defeat last January.

”That’s a great basketball team out there,” first-year

Bulldogs coach Vic Schaefer said of Kentucky. ”We lost to a great

team and we were pretty outmanned.”

While the domination was nothing new for a Kentucky squad that

has defended its floor well for nearly two years, the Wildcats had

to fight to win their previous two home games against Florida and

Texas A&M.

Kentucky, which plays four of its next five games at home, shot

50 percent (37 of 74) from the field and outrebounded the Bulldogs

46-20. The Wildcats’ 26 offensive rebounds alone were more than

Mississippi State.

”Coach always tells us that great offensive rebounding teams

win the SEC,” said Mathies, who had six rebounds along with

Samarie Walker and Stallworth. ”We want to be a good rebounding

team in general, so we went out and crashed the boards on both

sides and blocked out so they won’t get the rebounds. It worked

pretty well tonight.”

Kentucky had just one shot blocked by a Mississippi State squad

that came in averaging an SEC-best 5.4 per game. Bulldogs center

Martha Alwal (2.4) entered the game with eight double-doubles this

season, just one behind league leader Kelsey Bone of Texas

A&M.

While that appeared to present a problem for Walker and

Stallworth, both players asserted themselves from the opening tip

and didn’t let up. Alwal didn’t score and had just four

rebounds.

The Wildcats already had three offensive rebounds only 37

seconds in, and Walker and Stallworth combined for their first

eight points. Goss followed with a three-point play for an 11-2

lead.

But the first half clearly belonged to Stallworth, who scored 18

points on 7-of-11 shooting and grabbed three rebounds. Walker had

six points in the half and finished with nine after combining for

five points in the past two games. She also had six rebounds.

Kentucky’s defense harassed Mississippi State into 17 first-half

turnovers, leading to 18 points. The Wildcats’ pressure also forced

two shot clock violations, culminating in a 46-24 halftime

lead.

Mathies opened the second half with consecutive 3-pointers for

Kentucky, which mounted a 27-2 run for a 67-26 lead.

All but one player scored for Kentucky, which also got 21 points

from its reserves. Kastine Evans added 12 points for Kentucky and

Brittany Henderson had eight rebounds.

Wildcats forward Azia Bishop also made a sooner-than-expected

return from a left wrist injury sustained three games ago against

Alabama. Expected to miss four contests, she checked in just before

halftime and had four rebounds and two points in nine minutes.

After shooting just 40 percent in their four previous SEC games,

Wildcats coach Matthew Mitchell was happy with his team’s best game

from the field and second 100-point effort this season.

”(We were) really good at the 3-point line tonight and really

good at that free-throw line tonight,” said Mitchell, adding that

his team was ”pretty good making layups and trying to get in there

and drawing some contact and making some shots in the paint.

”Just not a lot to complain about on offense.”