By: Tyrus York – The #18 UK Hoops team entered Thursday night’s matchup at home against Ole Miss with their backs slightly up against the wall. After losing to Florida in Gainesville on Sunday to drop to .500 in SEC play, the Wildcats knew they had to take advantage of the struggling Rebels.
Take advantage they did as the Wildcats (18-6, 6-5) exploded offensively to smash Ole Miss (10-16, 1-11) by a convincing margin of 108-78.
The game welcomed back longtime Matthew Mitchell assistant and now head coach of the Rebels Matt Insell. Coach Insell’s first year has been tough especially in SEC play, but looking at their schedule and results they have been competitive all season long.
For about half of the game, the Rebels were competitive, keeping the margin around 10 points for much of the first half and beginning of the second half. But then the Wildcats exploded.
Led by a super performance from Jenn O’Neill who poured in 27 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists, there was little the Rebels could do to slow down the McDonalds All-American.
DeNesha Stallworth continues to get back to pre-injury form and may have turned in her best performance in 2014 going for 19 points and 11 rebounds to claim her second straight double-double.
It’s been rough for the Wildcats as they’ve struggled to find their identity while having arguably their best player (Stallworth) struggle to get back to form.
As both coaches pointed out after the game, when O’Neill and Stallworth are clicking, UK Hoops begin to look like the Final Four team we all thought they could be.
The Cats were better than the Rebels in nearly every statistical category (losing the free throw line battle 72.2% to 68.4%) and clearly frustrating the Rebels in the process.
Kentucky will need to build on that momentum over the next few days as they prepare to go to Knoxville to visit the Lady Vols in a building that hasn’t produced very many wins for this program.
That game will be nationally televised on ESPN at 1 pm on Sunday.