UK Hoops beats Duke 72-65 in front of record crowd



A’dia Mathies’ typical All-SEC play was practically overshadowed by two freshman breakout performances in No. 10 UK Hoops’ 72-65 win over No. 5/6 Duke.

The win came in front of a program attendance record of 14,508 fans in Rupp Arena, and it’s the first back-to-back wins over top-10 teams in program history.

Mathies led the Cats with 23 points, hitting 4-for-5 from 3-point range.

“They say this is a shooters gym,” Mathies said. “The shots were falling and I was glad they did.”

Freshman guard Bria Goss tossed in a career-high 19 points for the Cats, hitting 7-for-10 from the foul line.

The surprise performance, however, came from fellow freshman Azia Bishop, who came off the bench to secure her first career double-double.

“I think Bishop is the player of the game,” Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “A player comes off bench for a double-double in a physical game like this, I would call her the player of the game.”

Said Mathies, “We wouldn’t have won the game without their performance tonight.”

Bishop scored 12 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and had four blocked shots in 19 minutes of action.

“She (Bishop) was really able to rise to the occasion tonight,” UK head coach Matthew Mitchell said.

“This is exactly how Coach Mitchell wants her to play,” said freshman guard Bria Goss, Bishop’s roommate.

Duke’s size was a big difference in the first half of play. Duke saw over the press and utilized straight-line drives to the basket to shoot 57 percent from the field and score 20 points in the paint. Duke led the Cats 34-31 at the half.

“We were not defending dribble-penetration and we were helping too early,” said Mitchell about his team’s defense in the first half. “I told them the key to the game was to keep the ball in front of you so you didn’t have to rotate to help.”

The Cats forced 15 Duke turnovers, but turned it over 12 times themselves in the first half.

“Don’t throw it to them, was the message at halftime,” said Mitchell.  “Only four turnovers (for UK) in the second half – that’s the story of the game right there.”

There were five lead changes and six ties  over the first ten minutes of play in the second half, leaving the score tied at 50-50.

A put-back basket by Bishop and a pair of threes by Goss and Mathies spurred the Cats on a 12-2 run to give them a 62-50 advantage.

The Cats held Duke to 40 percent shooting in the second half and forced 24 turnovers for the game. The out-sized Cats were even with Duke in rebounds at 33, and outscored them in second chance points 21-12.

“I thought we defended the ball much better in the second half,” said Mitchell. “To come out tied in boards with that kind of size disadvantage is a real testament to our kids’ toughness.”

The team fed off the fans’ energy.

“Kentucky has the best fans for men’s and women’s basketball,” said Goss. “We set the tone tonight.”

“If we could find a way to win, you capitalize on a moment like this and you just try to continue to build and create energy,” said Mitchell. “We just need to keep at it. I think people appreciate how hard the players play.”