LEXINGTON, Ky. – Freshman Bria Goss scored 19 points and No. 6 Kentucky matched its best start ever with an 82-41 victory over Mississippi on Thursday night.
The Wildcats (21-2, 10-0 Southeastern Conference) equaled the 1982-83 team and are looking to do something that team couldn't — win an SEC championship to join the school's only other title team from the 1981-82 season.
Kentucky forced Mississippi (12-11, 2-8) into 36 turnovers, the most in a conference game this season, and didn't skip a beat even though leading scorer A'dia Mathies had an off night. Mathies, averaging 15.4 points, went 2 of 14 from the field and finished with 11 points.
Courtney Marbra scored seven points to lead Mississippi.
Kastine Evans scored 12 points and had a career-high seven steals, while Samarie Walker added 11 points as Kentucky won for the 18th straight time at home.
Whether Kentucky captures its second conference title in school history will likely be determined over the next three games. Kentucky heads on the road for games at LSU on Sunday, at No. 8 Tennessee on Feb. 13 and at Alabama on Feb. 16. The Wildcats already have a win over the Volunteers, who are two games back in the loss column after falling to South Carolina 64-60 on Thursday night.
Mississippi never got within single digits in the second half. Up 40-29, the Wildcats used a 15-3 run to put the game out of the reach that included five different scorers.
Crystal Riley hit a 3-pointer in the right corner, Walker cleaned up a miss from Mathies, Evans hit a jumper and after Bernisha Pinkett's strip and missed layup, the Wildcats grabbed three offensive rebounds before Walker finally scored to give Kentucky a 55-32 lead with 13:53 left.
Kentucky would make it 30 with just over 8 minutes left and take its first 40-point lead in the final 1:27 as Mississippi shot 27.3 percent in the second half.
The Rebels were without inside presence Nikki Byrd, who was averaging 13.1 points and 9.5 rebounds but was hurt late in the Rebels' loss on Sunday to Auburn. Leading scorer Valencia McFarland was held to six points, well-short of her average of 13.6 per game.
Kentucky freshman Azia Bishop didn't dress because of an unspecified violation of team rules.
No matter, the Wildcats kept on rolling after an early hiccup.
Kentucky jumped out to a 7-2 lead, but after Mathies' layup the Wildcats went more than 6½ minutes without a field goal before Brittany Henderson's putback of a Mathies' miss gave Kentucky an 18-16 lead.
Mississippi, which is beginning a stretch of five of its final seven regular-season games on the road, took its only lead, 14-12, after consecutive baskets by McFarland, but couldn't extend it because the Rebels kept sending Kentucky to the foul line early.
Kentucky finally got going and Keyla Snowden hit a 3-pointer from the right corner that gave Kentucky its first double-digit lead, 29-18, with 6:05 left. Mississippi, which came in averaging 17.5 turnovers per game, committed three in the final minute to finish the half with 20 and trailed 37-23 at the break.