LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Auburn coach Terri Williams-Flournoy knew her team would be overmatched against a hard pressing team like Kentucky.
She wasn't pleased with how the fifth-ranked Wildcats claimed their 97-53 win on Sunday.
With her team trailing by 40, Williams-Flournoy was unhappy that Mitchell kept his press on until the final buzzer, even coming up with a turnover in the game's final five seconds on a lazy Auburn pass out of a defensive rebound.
"I thought it was pretty un-classy to continue to press when you're up by 46 points," Williams-Flournoy said. "We're a pressing team also, and at some point, we do take the press off because that becomes not respectful of the other team."
Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell defended his coaching decision saying his team plays all 40 minutes. The phrase "40 Minutes" is printed on the team's media guide cover and is easy to spot on advertising around Memorial Coliseum and on the team's website— and to follow the scouting report until the game goes final.
In Sunday's case, the scouting report on Auburn was to disturb Auburn point guard Najat Ouardad, who both Mitchell and Williams-Flournoy said was Auburn's only prominent ball-handler, and make someone else handle the ball. Ouardad finished with eight turnovers and one assist in 24 minutes.
The Tigers had no way to stop A'Dia Mathies. The senior guard made eight of her nine shots and had a season high 24 points for Kentucky.
She was in a groove offensively.
"No, I really didn't feel it," Mathies said. "I didn't know I missed one shot. I was just out there playing. Luckily the shots went in, and my teammates did a great job of setting me up."
Mathies was perfect from the field at halftime, hitting all five of her shots — including three 3-pointers. She had 16 of her 24 points before the break. Her only miss of the day was a 3-pointer off the back rim with 15:48 to play in the game. At that point the Wildcats (18-1, 6-0) were up 64-27.
Mathies' five made 3-pointers tied a career high.
"I think she's just playing with tremendous control right now and confidence," Mitchell said. "If you leave her open right now at the 3-point stripe, you are paying dearly because she's shooting the ball so well."
The Wildcats, who have now won 17 games in a row and are tied with No. 4 Duke for the longest win streak in the country, put the game away in the first half, running out to an 11-point early. Auburn (13-6, 2-4) closed the lead to eight points with 11:04 until halftime.
But over the next 7 1/2 minutes, Kentucky went on a 24-2 run, during which six different Wildcats scored.
Kentucky led 51-21 at halftime. The Tigers scored consecutive field goals only once in the first half. It was those two field goals that snapped the Wildcats' 24-2 stretch that put them on top 46-15.