No. 7 Kentucky 66, UC Santa Barbara 38
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP)
Kentucky made the most of its first trip to the West Coast in three years.
A'dia Mathies scored 19 points and the seventh-ranked Wildcats extended their winning streak to nine games Friday with a 66-38 victory over UC Santa Barbara.
Kentucky (10-1) went 2-0 on its Pacific Coast road trip that began with an 80-62 win over Pepperdine in Malibu on Tuesday.
''This was a really good trip,'' coach Matthew Mitchell said. ''We were great at the defensive end today.''
DeNesha Stallworth and Samarie Walker each scored 12 for the Wildcats. Stallworth, a 6-foot-3 junior from Richmond, Calif., stood tall in her home state. She had 17 points against Pepperdine.
Mathies, a senior guard from Louisville and the reigning Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, hit four 3-pointers, three of them in the second half, as Kentucky broke the game open after leading 28-20 at halftime.
''She's a very versatile player,'' Mitchell said.
Walker also grabbed 10 rebounds for her third double-double of the season. The junior forward made five of seven shots in the second half.
''We had a difficult time making shots in the first half,'' Mitchell said. ''Samarie did a nice job taking it to the hoop.''
It was 30-23 early in the second half when Walker triggered a 10-0 run for Kentucky that opened a double-digit lead for good. Another 10-point spurt, featuring a pair of 3s by Mathies, pushed the cushion to 53-27.
The Wildcats improved on their average scoring margin of 25.4 points, which ranks seventh in the nation.
''We played a great team tonight,'' UCSB coach Carlene Mitchell said. ''They're going to beat a lot of people by 25, 30 points, even when they get into the SEC.''
This time it was Kentucky's defense that created the gap. The Gauchos (4-7) were limited to 35 percent shooting (14 for 40) and turned the ball over 28 times. The Wildcats shot 45 percent (27 for 60).
''That's the identity of their team - pressure defense,'' UCSB's Mitchell said. ''It's hard to prepare for that kind of pressure. They pressured us into 20 of the turnovers, and eight were on our part.''
Both teams started slowly. Kentucky had a 4-0 lead after 5 minutes when Kirsten Tilleman made UCSB's first basket on a putback.
Kentucky took its biggest lead in the first half at 17-6 when Stallworth hit a baby hook in the lane.
Melissa Zornig made a 3-pointer to spark a 10-2 run that pulled the Gauchos to 19-16. Mathies scored the next five points as the Wildcats opened their eight-point halftime lead. Stallworth had 10 points in the first half.
Sweets Underwood and Zornig were UCSB's leading scorers with nine points each.
The Gauchos committed 17 turnovers in the first half.
Despite having no player taller than 6-1, UCSB outrebounded the Wildcats by a 31-30 margin. Underwood, a 6-foot senior, had a game-high 12 rebounds for the Gauchos, and Tilleman grabbed 10.
Still, Matthew Mitchell was not concerned.
''The turnovers are as good as rebounds,'' the Kentucky coach said.
The Wildcats were plus-17 in giveaways, losing only 11 turnovers themselves.