No. 9 Kentucky blows out USC Upstate 100-34
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP)—Kentucky’s players found satisfaction not only from another lopsided victory.
The No. 9 Wildcats were pleased with how thoroughly they dispatched USC Upstate 100-34 on Sunday.
Senior guard A’dia Mathies led the way with 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Junior forward Samarie Walker added 13 points and had four steals.
Most importantly, Kentucky forced 38 turnovers, leading to 52 points, and kept up the pressure from beginning to end.
“What gets us going is our defense,” sophomore guard Bria Goss said, “and if we’re out here hustling and forcing turnovers, then that’s always a plus. We’ve just got to keep attacking, and our offense will come.”
Kentucky’s offense certainly came together against USC Upstate, from all over the bench. Every player scored for the Wildcats, who shot 50 percent from the field and 12 of 30 from 3-point range in breaking 100 points for the first time this season.
DeNesha Stallworth added 11 points and freshman Janee Thompson had 10 for the Wildcats (4-1), who won their 24th consecutive home game.
Walker had three blocks.
Valese McAllister scored nine points to lead USC Upstate (2-5), which was close in the opening minutes before being overwhelmed by Kentucky’s defense. The Spartans shot just 26 percent and were outrebounded 42-33.
Kentucky was coming off a 73-37 victory over Morehead State on Friday, but Wildcats coach Matt Mitchell wasn’t happy with how his team reacted. They shot just 38 percent and committed 18 turnovers against the Eagles.
He had no complaints after a game in which his players were active on both ends for all 40 minutes.
“I just felt like we gave a more energetic performance,” Mitchell said. “It was a lot closer to where we were trying to get. I’m happy for the players. They worked hard to earn this victory today.”
Mistakes have been a huge problem for the Spartans, who began the day averaging 27 turnovers and committed 33 in their previous game against George Washington, a 48-37 loss.
“That’s been our Achilles’ heel, especially against a very, very good team like Kentucky,” coach Tammy George said. “We just struggled, obviously, with 38 turnovers. (Kentucky) played very hard and with lots of pressure. Kentucky’s just solid all the way around.”
Good perimeter shooting got the Wildcats started on the other end as Goss hit back-to-back 3-pointers to counter the Spartans’ zone. Mathies added a couple as well, setting the stage for a 7-of-16 half from beyond the arc.
“I thought it was the most consistent energy we’ve had,” Mitchell said. “I was really happy that we could shoot 50 percent today. I want to try and see if we can keep doing that and staying around that number is going to be important for this team’s development.”