Lady Bulldogs Lose To No. 11 Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Ky. – A pair of early 9-0 runs placed Mississippi State in an early hole Sunday afternoon. The Lady Bulldogs were unable to recover, dropping an 88-40 decision to No. 11 Kentucky at Memorial Coliseum.

Kentucky improved to 14-2 overall and 3-0 in league play. For the Lady Wildcats, it is their best start in league play since 1993. UK coach Matthew Mitchell, a Mississippi State alumnus, also became the third UK women's coach to post 100 career victories with Sunday's win.

MSU dropped to 10-5 overall and 0-2 in league play. The Lady Bulldogs suffered a season-high 29 turnovers, while allowing UK to hit a school-record 14 3-point shots. MSU's cause was also greatly affected by the absence of senior guard Porsha Porter, who missed the contest due to illness.

"Porsha Porter is leading us in scoring and rebounding over the last five games," MSU head coach Sharon Fanning-Otis said. "She leads us from a defensive standpoint, too. She spearheads what we try to do on the defensive end of the floor.

"She is also great at taking the ball to the rim. Her absence made it hard for us to break other people down."

Kentucky forced five turnovers over the first three minutes as the hosts quickly sprinted to a 9-0 advantage. After jumpers by Shamia Robinson and Jerica James brought the Lady Bulldogs within 11-4, UK quickly answered with another 9-0 run.

The Lady Wildcats then needed less than two minutes to piece together a 10-0 run. A pair of free throws by UK's Keyla Snowden ran the lead to 30-5 with 9:10 left before halftime.

UK hit 14-of-34 first-half shots, including 8-of-16 shots from 3-point range. The Lady Wildcats worked 12 players into the ballgame in the opening half and led 50-21 at the intermission.

"Kentucky is ranked team for a reason," Fanning-Otis said. "They are a tough team and they play you hard baseline to baseline. They have a lot of people who can score. If you rest for one or two seconds, they create something easy.

"Obviously, we didn't play well. But it is a lot of read and react. We have to be quicker to the ball. We have to be quicker in what we want to do. You have to attack the paint. You have to read and react. We weren't able to do that today."

Kentucky opened the second half with an 11-5 run to open a 61-26 advantage. A 9-0 run followed, pushing the lead past 40 for the first time in the contest. The Lady Wildcats led by 48 on two different occasions, including the final margin.

For the contest, the Lady Bulldogs hit 13 of 47 shots from the field (27.7 percent), 1 of 4 shots from 3-point range (25.0 percent) and 13 of 21 shots from the foul line (61.9 percent). The Lady Wildcats hit 29 of 74 shots from the field (39.2 percent), 14 of 30 shots from 3-point range (46.7 percent) and 16 of 27 shots from the foul line (59.3 percent).

UK held a 51-34 rebounding advantage. The Lady Bulldogs had two assists and 29 turnovers, while the Lady Wildcats had 18 assists and 12 turnovers.

"It's a tough pill to swallow but you have to move on," Fanning-Otis said. "We have 14 more chances to regroup. You have to take the lessons learned today and make that turn into a win somewhere down the road. You have to take these frustrations and learn from them."

Diamber Johnson paced the Lady Bulldogs with 16 points. Robinson had a team-high six rebounds.

Kentucky received 22 points from Snowden, 20 points from A'dia Mathies, 13 points from Bria Goss and 10 points from Bernisha Pinkett.

The Lady Bulldogs face Alabama (10-7, 0-3) at 8 p.m. Thursday at Foster Auditorium in Tuscaloosa, Ala. That contest will be televised regionally by Fox Sports Net South. The MSU women are back home for Georgia (13-3, 2-1) on Jan. 15 (2 p.m., no live TV).

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