Defense Stifles Auburn as Hoops Rolls 66-48
Jan. 26, 2012
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) - A'dia Mathies didn't let a few errant shots deter her, even coming off her worst game of the season.
Mathies scored 20 points, 18 more than her last game against Florida, and No. 6 Kentucky forced 30 turnovers in a 66-48 victory over Auburn on Thursday night.
"A'dia knew we weren't happy with her on Sunday, with her lack of aggressiveness," Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said. "She's an intelligent woman, and she understood what she needed to do. She had a fantastic game. If she will just be aggressive, it opens things up for the rest of our team. She had a good night."
The Wildcats (19-2, 8-0 Southeastern Conference) took control with a 33-10 run that carried over into the second half. Kentucky moved within two wins of matching its best-ever start, 21-2 in the 1982-83 season.
Mathies helped ensure the Tigers (10-11, 2-6) didn't really challenge in the second half. When Auburn scored the first four points to pull within seven, Mathies answered with a jump shot and a 3-pointer.
When Auburn whittled six points off an 18-point deficit, she scored on a 3 and a drive.
Maegan Conwright shot 5 for 6 and had 10 points - six more than her season average - for the Wildcats.
"Tonight was clearly her best game of the year," Mitchell said.
Samarie Walker had only six points on 1-of-11 shooting for Kentucky, but grabbed 15 rebounds.
Blanche Alverson led Auburn with 15 points while Morgan Jennings had 10 on 5-of-6 shooting. The Tigers have lost five of six.
"We couldn't score. Their pressure is intense," Auburn coach Nell Fortner said. "They make it very hard for you to score. I thought we missed some opportunities as far as seeing some openings, but that is some intense pressure, and it's difficult for us."
Mathies shot 2 for 8 in the first half but kept firing way and hit three 3-pointers. She was coming off a 1-for-7, 2-point performance against Florida.
The Wildcats, who lead the nation in turnover margin, committed only 13.
They shot 36 percent (23 of 64) but made up for it by grabbing 21 offensive rebounds, including eight by Walker.
Kentucky kept pulling away with big spurts. The Wildcats scored 18 straight points to take a 29-16 lead late in the first half after falling behind by five.
"We started getting aggressive in our halfcourt defense," Mitchell said. "We substituted Maegan Conwright in the game, and she made a huge difference in our defensive energy. It was significant. It energized our entire team. We played some tough defense."
Said Conwright, "I know my role, and that's to play defense."
The Wildcats held Auburn scoreless for 8 1/2 minutes and started the run by forcing turnovers on five consecutive possessions.
The Tigers had only two field goals over the final 10 minutes of the half to fall behind 31-20, committing nine turnovers during that stretch.
"We were just turning the ball over," Alverson said. "We weren't taking care of it, we didn't have enough poise on the offensive end. That really hurt us in the first half. We could have taken that momentum and gone with that, but we had too many turnovers and they were getting offensive rebounds. I think that all had to do with that."