The Lady Bulldogs were attempting a third straight win over a ranked opponent. However, MSU struggled from the field and failed to convert some late chances to steal the victory. It also turned out to be a missed opportunity for advancement in the league standings as Florida won at Ole Miss.
M-State fell to 14-8 overall and 5-4 in league play, unable to extend a modest two-game win streak after wins over No. 21 Vanderbilt and No. 9 Georgia. Meanwhile, Kentucky moved into sole possession of second place in the league standings at 18-3 overall and 6-2 in conference play.
MSU managed an amazing 17 more shots from the field, only to make three more field goals than the guests. The Lady Bulldogs held their own against a taller UK squad on the boards. However, the misses proved large and were abundant, including six straight missed free throws during one stretch of play. Foul difficulty also plagued the hosts.
The teams were nip-and-tuck through the first half. The score was tied six times and the lead changed hands four times in the opening half. Both teams enjoyed no bigger than a four-point lead in the opening half. The Lady Bulldogs were 1-of-8 from 3-point range, missed all four free throws but still led 27-26 at the intermission.
In the second half, UK scored the first seven points to take a 33-27 advantage, thanks to a 3-point basket from Carly Morrow. MSU responded with a 12-5 run, capped by a putback from Chanel Mokango and a 3-point basket from Mary Kathryn Govero. That trey gave the Lady Bulldogs their last lead, at 39-38 with 14:05 remaining.
From there, Kentucky scored the game's next six points and did not trail again. Despite its offensive struggles, MSU did hang tight. The Lady Bulldogs closed within 50-49 and 52-51 but could not get over the hump. After a layup by Mokango, closed the deficit to 56-53 with 3:53 remaining, UK put the game on ice with a 3-point basket from A'dia Mathies on the other end as the shot clock expired.
For the contest, the Lady Bulldogs hit 24 of 72 shots from the field (33.3 percent), 6 of 22 shots from 3-point range (27.3 percent) and 5 of 11 shots from the foul line (45.5 percent). The Wildcats hit 21 of 55 shots from the field (38.2 percent), 5 of 14 shots from 3-point range (35.7 percent) and 22 of 28 shots from the foul line (78.6 percent).
UK held a 47-39 rebounding advantage. MSU had 14 assists and 13 turnovers, while UK had 12 assists and 18 turnovers.
Victoria Dunlap recorded a double-double for Kentucky, scoring 19 points and pulling down 12 rebounds. Also in double figures were Mathies with 13 points and Morrow with 11 points.
Mokango paced the Lady Bulldogs with 17 points and three blocked shots, despite playing a large portion of the final half with four fouls. Govero scored 14 points, including three 3-point baskets. Rack and Armelie Lumanu each added 11 points. Rack, the squad's leading scorer, completed a 4-of-24 night from the field and only made 2-of-10 attempts from 3-point range.
The Lady Bulldogs close their three-game homestand with an 8 p.m. start Thursday against Alabama. That contest will be televised nationally by ESPNU. MSU then returns to the road with stops at Florida and South Carolina.