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November 23, 2012

UK Hoops beats Morehead 73-37 behind 63 rebounds

Kentucky's trademark full-court pressure is usually what cracks its opponents. On Friday, it was the Wildcats' length that blocked out Morehead State.

The No. 9 UK women (3-1) cruised to a 73-37 win, forcing 24 turnovers while outrebounding the Eagles (1-4) 63-21. Morehead started just one player taller than 5-foot-10, while UK wore down their frontline while rotating DeNesha Stallworth, Samarie Walker, Brittany Henderson and Azia Bishop.

"I wish we could go to a Black Friday sale and buy a few more inches," Morehead coach Tom Hodges said. "There's no alleviating that kind of physicality."

It wasn't a spotless performance for the Wildcats. UK shot just 34 percent in the first half, but their offensive rebounding kept them in the game. When Kentucky missed shots, they'd gather the ball and try again. UK had a whopping 34 offensive rebounds on the day, including 19 in the first half to buoy the offense when shots didn't fall.

They had no such trouble in the second half. Morehead collapsed as the UK offense warmed up. Kentucky led by 42 at one point, playing several starters deep into the second half.

"We thought we should have a huge advantage on the boards," Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said. "We were bigger and stronger and more athletic, but you still have to go in and get them."

Kentucky's 63 rebounds were just shy of the school record of 66. Three Cats finished with double-digit rebounds as junior forward Samarie Walker led the way with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Junior center DeNesha Stallworth had 10 points and 10 rebounds, while sophomore forward Azia Bishop had nine points and 10 rebounds. UK also had 10 blocks on the day to Morehead's one.

Walker thought she could have had an even bigger night if she'd been able to knock down open shots. She shot 5-11 from the field.

"It's hard for me not to get frustrated when I miss such easy shots, but I just have to keep continuing to get better with my attitude and working on my frustration," she said.

Even when the Wildcats were struggling, the Eagles couldn't threaten. UK stretched its lead to 10 points midway through the first half, and pushed to that to 20 before halftime. Kentucky made a 12-0 run early in the second half to go up 48-15 before finally slowing down with the game well in hand.

"I really challenged our post players," Mitchell said. "They've been given some gifts. We have some athletic, tall, long post players. I just didn't feel like we had been as active as we needed to be, and I thought we were more active today."

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