LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Georgia Southern knew what it was getting into against No. 7 Kentucky. The hard part for the Eagles was getting out of the Wildcats' defensive stranglehold.
Escaping just wasn't possible against the Wildcats' pressure, which forced 35 turnovers overall and held the Eagles without an assist in the first half. Add in Kentucky's 49-35 rebounding edge and good shooting, and the result was a 103-38 rout in a matinee on Wednesday.
"We respect them so much and the things that we had talked about doing, they did not allow us to do," Eagles coach Chris Vozab said. "They completely sped us up, that's what they do and they did a great job at it."
Playing their first ranked opponent since losing to Georgia nearly two years ago, the Eagles (0-2) were trying to get their first win against a Top-25 foe in 14 attempts since the 2000-01 season.
That was asking a lot in their first meeting with the Wildcats, who were coming off a 39-point win on Sunday against Wagner and eager to please more than 2,000 enthusiastic sixth-graders attending the home opener.
Guard Angel McGowan shook off a second-half ankle injury to score 10 points for Georgia Southern, which shot just 13 of 50 from the field (26 percent).
Briana Jones added seven points and eight rebounds for Georgia Southern, which fell behind 10-0 and trailed 49-13 at the break. Kentucky's lead reached 67 in the final minute.
Besides losing the game, Georgia Southern lost guard Alexis Sams to a right knee injury late in the first half. The sophomore screamed as she lay on the floor holding her knee, but was able to walk off without crutches; she had her leg bandaged and did not return.
Vozab said Sams would be evaluated when the team returns home.
McGowan, a freshman who plays with a left knee brace, left briefly in the second half after injuring her right ankle. She ended up making 4 of 7 attempts from the field, including 2 of 3 from beyond the arc.
With the game out of hand from the start, Vozab tried to keep her team focused on what it could learn from the loss against a Top-10 team rather than the margin of defeat.
"Everything we talk about wanting to be as a program, I think we saw today why Kentucky is at the place that it's at," she said. "I told our kids, we've got to learn from this, take these lessons and make ourselves better from it going forward."
Wildcats reserve Bernisha Pinkett led the way for Kentucky (3-0) with 19 points, along with five other players in double figures.
Starting guard Kastine Evans added 15 points, DeNesha Stallworth and Linnae Harper each had 13, Samarie Walker added 12 and Azia Bishop had 10 with a team-high 12 rebounds.
Kentucky dominated every category including points in the paint (54-18), on the fast break (22-4) and by the bench (58-22). The Wildcats also dominated the Eagles in assists, 26-5; Evans and freshman Makayla Epps each had six.
Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell praised his team for doing what was expected after starting slow in its two previous wins at Marist and Wagner.
"As a coach, what you would like to see your team do is really come out and hustle, give maximum effort and hold them to a high standard, and I thought our team did that today," he said. "I am very, very grateful to our players for working so hard and giving such a great effort."