LEXINGTON, Ky. – A'dia Mathies scored 23 points, freshman Bria Goss added 18 and No. 10 Kentucky beat No. 6 Duke 72-65 on Thursday night in front of the largest home crowd for a women's game in Wildcats history.
Freshman Azia Bishop added 12 points as Kentucky (9-0) shook off a slow start with a second-half rally in front of 14,508 fans at Rupp Arena for its 29th straight nonconference home win. The Wildcats used their pressure defense to force the Blue Devils into a season-high 24 turnovers and made several clutch shots during an 8-0 run that sealed the victory.
Elizabeth Williams scored 17 for Duke (6-2), but the Blue Devils couldn't counter Kentucky after falling behind by 10 with just under 5 minutes to play.
Duke's only previous loss was by two points to Notre Dame.
Kentucky has feasted on lesser opponents, using its pressure to force an average of 34.5 turnovers per game. This game featured two top 10 opponents in Lexington for the first time since 1983, when No. 6 Tennessee beat No. 4 Kentucky.
The game was moved to Rupp Arena instead of cozy, 8,000-seat Memorial Coliseum, and tickets went on sale for a $1. The move paid off with a raucous atmosphere in the 35-year-old facility.
With the Wildcats clinging to a two-point lead, Kastine Evans broke a double team in the corner with a pass underneath to Mathies for a layup. Goss followed with a 3-pointer from the left wing and Mathies added another 3 with time running short on the shot clock to give Kentucky a 62-52 lead with 4:54 left.
That was all the Wildcats needed against the two-time reigning ACC champions, who cut it to 64-58 with 1:59 left on two free throws by Chelsea Gray. They couldn't get any closer until Chloe Wells' layup with 14.5 seconds left made it 70-65.
Haley Peters scored 13 points and Tricia Liston added 11 for Duke.
This was a signature win for coach Matthew Mitchell following a 20-point beating of in-state rival and then-No. 10 Louisville on Sunday. The Wildcats have an even stiffer test ahead. They play Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Sunday before facing No. 3 Notre Dame on the road Dec. 18.
Kentucky turned up the tempo midway through the second half when Bishop grabbed two offensive rebounds and converted the putbacks before adding a layup to give Kentucky a 50-46 lead.
Duke matched its season high with its 20th turnover with just more than 12 minutes to play and never led again as the Wildcats kept up the pressure. The nation's leading team in turnover margin, Kentucky has forced 15 more than it has allowed.
Duke controlled most of the first half and took a 26-18 lead with just under 6 minutes left, but Goss gave Kentucky its first lead in more than 16 minutes with a pair of free throws with 57 seconds to go in the half. The Blue Devils scored the final four points to make it 34-31 at the break.
It was the biggest halftime deficit for the Wildcats this season. It also was one that didn't last in Kentucky's first victory in four tries against Duke.