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January 17, 2013
UK Hoops steamrolls Mississippi State 100-47
Mississippi State head coach Vic Schaefer had to use a timeout less than a minute into the game. He ditched his blazer less than two minutes in. Three minutes in, and his team was down 11-2.
No. 5 Kentucky (17-1, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) built a 22-point lead by halftime, steamrolling the Bulldogs (8-10, 0-5 SEC) in a 100-47 win. UK ran away from Mississippi State with a 19-2 run to open the second half.
The Bulldogs wilted, as the Wildcats rolled to their largest margin of victory in an SEC game in school history.
It was the kind of performance Mitchell thought his team was capable of when he said before the season it had the potential to make a run at the Final Four.
"I don't know where we'll end up," Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said. "But if this team will hold themselves to a high standard, they'll have a chance to do some good things."
Schaefer saw it all coming. Earlier in his career, Mitchell spoke to Schaefer for hours on the phone about how to install the Wildcats' high-powered pressure defense. Schaefer, then the coach at Texas A&M, walked him through it over the course of several days.
"We talked about it, but you have to give that guy credit," Schaefer said. "He's got them playing hard for him."
Despite shooting 46.2 percent from the field, Mississippi State never found a comfort zone.
The Bulldogs' trouble with Kentucky's pressure lasted far beyond the opening minutes. They finished with 35 turnovers compared to 39 field goal attempts.
Kentucky turned those miscues into 42 points as the Wildcats scored 100 points for the second time this season. The Wildcats also outrebounded Mississippi State 46-20. UK finished with more offensive rebounds (26) than the Bulldogs had total rebounds.
"The thing that leaps off the page is the 35 turnovers because even if you have an advantage in talent in a game, you still have to really hustle to do that," Mitchell said. "That's a lot of turnovers and you have to hustle and that's the thing that's impressed me most about this team lately."
Junior center DeNesha Stallworth led Kentucky with a career-high 25 points on 9-15 shooting, also adding six rebounds and four assists. Her father traveled to Lexington for the first time to watch her play.
Senior guard A'dia Mathies finished with 21 points on 7-16 shooting and also had six rebounds.
UK extended its school-record winning streak to 16 games. UK has also won a school-record 32 consecutive games at home.
They're still a long way from the Final Four, but Mitchell found a lot to like on Thursday.
"We have some talent and they're hustling right now," Mitchell said. "They were really sharp preparing for this game. We were 4-0 coming in and Mississippi State was 0-4 and I didn't detect that was a factor in their preparation. I think that will be the key to whatever success we have."