Mathies' 27 Leads UK Hoops Past Arkansas
Feb. 7, 2010
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — So much for pre-season polls.
Picked to finish 11th by the Southeastern Conference media, Kentucky is making a serious push for an SEC title.
Freshman A'dia Mathies scored a career-high 27 points and No. 20 Kentucky used a late push to rally past Arkansas 71-57 on Sunday for its school-record seventh straight conference win.
With the victory, the Wildcats moved within one half game of idle Tennessee in the overall Southeastern Conference standings.
"They're a very good team," Arkansas Coach Tom Collen said. "They're a team that could very well win the Southeastern Conference."
Kentucky (20-3, 8-2) battled back and forth with the Razorbacks for most of the first half. After building an early 8-0 lead, the Wildcats settled for a 33-all tie at intermission as Arkansas got four first-half three-pointers from sophomore Lyndsay Harris to stay close.
"Arkansas really made us fight hard to win and took us out of a lot of things we wanted to do," UK Coach Matthew Mitchell said. "I was proud of our team that we were able to assert ourselves in the second half and do some things we wanted to do and come away with the win."
In the second half, Kentucky trailed 42-40 with 14:02 left to play before a 13-1 run helped put the Razorbacks away. The Wildcats got 20 points from reigning SEC Player of the Week Victoria Dunlap in the second half alone, while converting 15 of 17 free throws as a team to help seal the win.
"Victoria has shown a real ability to hang in there," Mitchell said. "She has had some games where she hasn't come out and played well in the first half, but when she got going in the second half it was big for us."
Dunlap finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
The Cats secured the 10th 20-win season in program history. It marks the first 20-win season for UK since Mitchell took over as coach in 2007.
UK improved to 13-1 when scoring 70 or more points this season. The Wildcats also moved to 15-1 and 5-0 in the SEC when limiting their opponent to fewer than 70 points.
Harris scored 18 points to lead Arkansas and Charity Ford added 10.
"I really think the difference was fatigue," Harris said. "It was hard with some of our players playing as many minutes as we do. Playing a team like Kentucky, it's now or never, and it's just hard when you're fatigued."