LEXINGTON (AP) — DeNesha Stallworth scored 25 points and No. 5 Kentucky moved to 17-1 for the best start in school history with a 100-47 rout of Mississippi State on Thursday night.
Stallworth was 9 of 15 from the field for the Wildcats, who moved past the 1982-83 team which opened 16-1.
A’dia Mathies added 21 points and Bria Goss had 13 as Kentucky (17-1, 5-0 Southeastern Conference) also extended its school-record winning streak to 16 games and its record home win streak to 32.
“The thing I love about this game more than anything was how they prepared. We were 4-0 coming in and Mississippi State was 0-4 and I didn’t detect that was really a factor in their preparation,” said UK coach Matthew Mitchell. “I think that will be a key in whatever success we have is are they committed to really trying to be the best they can and are they committed to holding themselves of a high standard.”
Kendra Grant had 11 points and Carnecia Williams 10 for Mississippi State (8-10, 0-5), which lost its fifth straight overall and sixth in a row to Kentucky. It was also the Bulldogs’ second consecutive lopsided loss on the Wildcats’ home floor, following a 48-point defeat last January.
While the domination was nothing new for a Kentucky squad that has defended its floor well for nearly two years, the Wildcats had to fight to win their previous two home games against Florida and Texas A&M.
Kentucky, which plays four of its next five games at home, shot 50 percent (37 of 74) from the field and outrebounded the Bulldogs 46-20. The Wildcats also forced Mississippi State into 35 turnovers.
“That is a lot of turnovers and you just have to hustle to do that. That is the thing that has impressed me the most about this team lately is they are just hustling,” Mitchell said. “It sounds very simple, and it is simple, but it is not easy to do. We have a bunch of players on this team that are really getting after it and hustling and scraping after lose basketballs and trying to make plays.”
The Bulldogs came in averaging an SEC-best 5.4 blocks, led by Martha Alwal (2.4), whose eight double-doubles this season are just one behind league leader Kelsey Bone of Texas A&M. While that presented a problem for Samarie Walker and Stallworth, both players asserted themselves from the opening tip.
The Wildcats already had three offensive rebounds only 37 seconds in, and Walker and Stallworth combined for their first eight points. Goss followed with a three-point play for an 11-2 lead.
The first half belonged to Stallworth, who scored 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting and grabbed three rebounds. Walker had six points in the half and finished with nine after combining for five points in the past two games. She also had six rebounds.
Kentucky’s defense harassed Mississippi State into 17 first-half turnovers, leading to 18 points. The Wildcats’ pressure also forced two shot clock violations, culminating in a 46-24 halftime lead.
Mathies opened the second half with consecutive 3-pointers for Kentucky, which mounted a 27-2 spanning halftime for a 67-26 lead.
“(We were) really good at the 3-point line tonight and really good at that free-throw line. Pretty good making layups and trying to get in there and drawing some contact and making some shots in the paint,” Mitchell added. “I thought we were really good at points in the paint tonight. Just not a lot to complain about on offense.”
Kastine Evans added 12 points for Kentucky and Brittany Henderson had eight rebounds.
The 100 points scored tied UK’s season high, they also scored 100 against USC Upstate on Nov. 25. It was the first time Kentucky has scored 100 or more points vs. a SEC opponent since defeating Vanderbilt 106-85 on Jan. 23, 1983.
The 53-point margin of victory is the largest against an SEC opponent in school history.