No. 17 Kentucky’s pressure defense paid off as the Wildcats scored 21 points off of 18 second-half turnovers en route to a 74-68 come-from-behind victory at Ole Miss on Thursday night.“It was the best of times in the second half and the worst of times in the first half,” said Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell after his team rallied from an eight-point deficit. “That was a crazy, crazy game for the Wildcats.”
The difference in the game was Kentucky’s implementation of a full-court press and double-teaming Ole Miss’ in-bounds pass the final 16 minutes of the game.
“It really changed the game and turned the game around for us,” Mitchell said.
Ole Miss finished the game with 23 turnovers.
“We went nuts,” Ole Miss coach Renee Ladner said. “We allowed their pressure to make us throw the ball away and they scored off the press. It’s pretty simple.
“We shot the ball well when we got on our end of the floor and took what I thought were good shots and we had second chance shots and went to the free-throw line, but you can’t become rattled against a team like that.”
Victoria Dunlap led Kentucky (16-4 overall, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) in scoring with 18 points, 16 of which came in the second half.
“We were finally able to get Victoria to settle down and slow down a little bit and get out of some of those double teams,” Mitchell said. “In the first half (Ole Miss gave) a lot of attention on Victoria Dunlap and she struggled with that.”
Jennifer O’Neill was second on Kentucky with 10 points.
The Wildcats took its first lead of the second half with 6:45 remaining courtesy a 3-point field goal by O’Neill and never relinquished the advantage.
Ole Miss (9-10, 2-5) possessed a 36-28 lead at the half thanks in large part to 17 points from freshman Shae Nelson.
Nelson finished the game with a career-high 22 points, surpassing her previous best of 21.
“Shae is a shooter and when she’s feeling it and she feels confident she knocks down big shots,” Ladner said. “I’m extremely proud of her; that’s extremely hard for anybody to do, much less a freshman.”
Valencia McFarland was second on Ole Miss with 21 points, while Kayla Melson contributed 17. (January 27, 2011)