The Missouri women's basketball team jumped out to an early lead on the road in Lexington, Ky., but the Southeastern conference's highest scoring offense proved to be too much for the Tigers. The No. 9 Kentucky Wildcats stormed back late in the first half and topped the Tigers 80-69.
Missouri led for the majority of the first half thanks to the efforts of senior forward Bri Kulas. The Wildcats had no answer for Kulas during the first period. Kulas, who leads the team with 18.2 points per game, showcased her ability to shot from the outside and create on her own while scoring 20 points and grabbing nine rebounds throughout the first20 minutes.
"That's what you expect your seniors to step up and do," Missouri coach Robin Pingeton said in a post-game radio interview on KTGR/100.5 FM.
Kulas' production slowed in the second half, but she tied career-highs in points (27) and rebounds (14).
The Tigers led by as many as eight points, before Kentucky began cutting into the lead with nine minutes to play in the first half. The Wildcats went on a 19-4 run that spanned more than five minutes and help them grab a lead that they would not relinquish throughout the remainder of the game.
All five Kentucky starters reached double-digit points. The Wildcats' balanced offensive attack was highlighted by junior guard Bria Goss, who scored a team-high 20 points while shooting a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line.
The Wildcats' win snaps a two-game skid in which Kentucky dropped conference games against Florida and South Carolina.
Although the loss drops the Tigers to 13-4 on the season and 2-2 in the conference, Pingeton was pleased with her team's performance on the road against a ranked opponent in a tough environment.
"After a big win win like Georgia, you don't want to get too high," Pingeton said . "After a tough loss against Kentucky, the No. 9 team in the country, with the history and tradition that they have, the environment they have, we're not going to get too down."
This loss on the road marks a significant improvement from the 26-point thrashing the Wildcats gave Missouri in Columbia last January.
"Did we play every possession perfectly? Absolutely not," Pingeton said. "But, we're a heck of a lot further ahead then we were a year ago at this time."
Missouri will face its third straight ranked opponent on Thursday when the Tigers host No. 12 LSU at Mizzou Arena. LSU is 13-3 on the season and has won three of its first four conference games, including a win over No. 5 Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn.