Hoops frontcourt routs Mississippi State, 100-47



By Boyd Hayes | @KernelHayes

[email protected]

When UK head coach Matthew Mitchell said the biggest difference between this season’s team and last season’s was his traditionally big post players, he may have been on to something.

Junior forwards Samarie Walker and DeNesha Stallworth have been a statistically prolific frontcourt duo for No. 5 UK Hoops this season and have allowed the rest of the offense to blossom.

The same was true Thursday when UK (17-1, 5-0 SEC) reached the 100-point mark for the second time this season in a 100-47 victory over Mississippi State (8-10, 0-5 SEC) at Memorial Coliseum.

“Not a lot to complain about on offense,” Mitchell said. “(We were) really good at the 3-point line tonight, really good at the free-throw line tonight, pretty good making layups and trying to get in there and draw some contact and get some shots in the paint.”

Stallworth scored a season-high 25 points against the Bulldogs, shooting 9-of-15 from the field and a perfect 7-of-7 from the free-throw line.

Walker (nine points, six boards) and Stallworth were able to get the better of a Mississippi State team that led the SEC in blocks with 5.4 per game heading into Thursday’s contest.

Sophomore center Martha Alwal, who before her team’s loss was averaging 12.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game, was held scoreless and blockless against the Cats, while the Bulldogs amassed only one block all night.

UK won the battle of the boards, 46-20, helped by senior forward Brittany Henderson grabbing a team-high eight rebounds.

One of the Cats benefiting from Stallworth’s and Walker’s performances was redshirt sophomore point guard Jennifer O’Neill, who dished the ball for seven assists as well as scoring six points in 29 minutes on the court.

“Another spectacular night for Jennifer O’Neill,” said Mitchell. “Just another spectacular night of basketball for her.

There is nobody that I have seen — and I haven’t seen everybody — but there’s nobody I’ve seen that’s pushing the basketball up the court like Jennifer O’Neill and she is a weapon right now.”

Notable also were senior guard A’dia Mathies and sophomore guard Bria Goss, who scored 21 and 13 points, respectively. Mathies also added six rebounds while Goss pulled down five.

After keeping the game close in the first 10 minutes, the Bulldogs stopped producing and the Cats pulled away, never trailing. The 53-point buffer is the Cats’ largest margin of victory over an SEC opponent in program history.

Undefeated in the SEC and in the past 16 games total, the Cats will continue the SEC portion of the schedule as they take on Auburn in Memorial Coliseum at 2 p.m. Sunday. The game will be televised live on the SEC Network.