Posted: Dec 28, 2012 11:36 PM
(AP) - Kentucky women's coach Matthew Mitchell has spent all season telling his team to play all 40 minutes of each game.
The seventh-ranked Wildcats did that on Friday night, setting an impressive school record in the process.
Samarie Walker had a career-best 21 points and added 14 rebounds, and Kentucky allowed its fewest points in school history with a 90-23 win over Alcorn State.
"You just have to keep hustling and trying really hard," Mitchell said. "We made some improvements in the second half. We shot the ball better in the second half. We took care of the ball better in the second half. That's not a sign of it being easy. That's a sign of the players buckling down and doing a good job. I'm happy with the win."
The Braves (0-9) briefly kept the game close in the early going, trailing 8-5 about five minutes in. But Alcorn State didn't hit a field goal for the next 19 minutes and 26 seconds - its next basket didn't come until 3:32 into the second half - and Kentucky scored 17 straight points to blow the game open.
The Wildcats (11-1) led 44-11 at halftime and did not let up once they earned their large lead. They kept their full-court pressure defense on for the entire game, even if it wasn't Mitchell's starting five running it. Kentucky forced the Braves into 36 turnovers.
The previous school record for points allowed in a game was 25, accomplished on Nov. 15, 2011, against Jacksonville State.
"I think when we play a game like this, we get to focus on the little things more," guard A'dia Mathies said. "We feel like if we're better than them man for man, then we focus on not letting them play to their strengths, which is getting to the basket since they're so small. Just doing little things like that and focusing on rebounding, little things like that, will carry us farther along."
Mathies scored 14 points and moved into a tie for fifth place on the Wildcats' career scoring list. Her 1,598 career points rank second in school history among guards.
It was the fifth time this season Kentucky, which came in ranked third in the country in turnover margin, forced an opponent into at least 30 turnovers.
Walker earned her fourth double-double of the season and second straight. She also had five steals and three blocks.
After the game, Mitchell announced point guard Maegan Conwright will miss the rest of the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee. Mitchell did not disclose when Conwright suffered the injury. Conwright, a junior, started four games this season and averaged 2.4 points.
In Conwright's absence, point guard Jennifer O'Neill scored 13 points.
Alcorn State coach Tonya Edwards said Kentucky's demeanor was what set it apart more so than its talent and size.
"When they're up, they put a foot in your throat," Edwards said. "That's what you have to do."
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