WACO, Texas — With the size and skill No. 9 Baylor has in the post, anything it gets from the outside is a bonus.
When its guards are making nearly everything they put up from the outside, there isn’t much opponents can do.
Kristy Wallace scored 15 of her 20 points in the first half and the Lady Bears held No. 20 Kentucky without a field goal in the third quarter on way to a 90-63 victory Thursday night in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
The Lady Bears outscored the Wildcats 23-6 in that decisive quarter, with Kentucky (6-1) missing all 13 of its shots from the floor while losing for the first time.
“We haven’t played quarters for but a few years, but that’s pretty impressive to defend a whole quarter and hold them to zero field goals,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “That’s impressive. We’ll watch film, and those kids that were on the floor and contributed to that will be acknowledged.”
Wallace led six players in double figures for Lady Bears (6-1), who shot 54 percent (35 for 65) from the floor and 53 percent (9 for 17) on 3-pointers. The senior guard had plenty of help in the backcourt, with Alexis Morris scoring 15 points and Juicy Landrum 14. Landrum made all four of her 3-point tries.
Maci Morris had a game-high 22 points for Kentucky, which had four players in double figures and made 11 of 19 3-pointers (58 percent). But the Wildcats shot only 32 percent overall after making only 8 for 40 inside the arc.
“The snowball just got too big rolling down the hill. We couldn’t stop it,” Kentucky coach Matt Mitchell said. “We’re going to have a very good team. We weren’t ready to beat Baylor tonight. But my spirits are buoyed because of the way the players show up every day and work and what they’re capable of doing.”
Baylor was up only 25-21 in the second quarter when Maci Morris was called for a flagrant foul on Wallace’s drive to the basket. Wallace made the two free throws, Alexis Morris added a layup to make it a four-point trip and start a 12-2 run.
“I thought when the girl went to swat (Wallace’s shot), she gave one of those windmill swats and hit Kristy in the head,” Mulkey said. “I don’t think she intentionally meant to do that, but when you have the intention or not, if you come across the head that hard, it can be upgraded. He did go, I’ll give him credit for that.”
Kentucky was back within seven before Landrum made two 3s and Wallace added one from long range in a 67-second span just before halftime for a 50-34 lead.
Jaida Roper added 12 points for Kentucky, while Taylor Murray and Makenzie Cann had 10 each.
“I think as the score started to separate, we – like a lot of teams do – panicked trying to get it all back quickly,” Mitchell said. “But, that’s all the things you learn from that. We just defensively aren’t sophisticated enough to try to take something away.”
Kentucky: This was the Wildcats’ first Top 25 test of the season, and they showed how far they have to go. The lane was closed off nearly the entire night by Baylor’s height inside, so the offense all but dried up at times when they were missing shots and unable to get to the foul line.
Baylor: With the way the Lady Bears shot from the outside, that meant Kentucky couldn’t gang up on them inside. Baylor took advantage with a 46-12 advantage in the paint, with Kalani Brown, Lauren Cox and Dekeiya Cohen all scoring in double figures. Brown and Cox both had 13 points, while Cohen had 10 points with nine rebounds.
Kentucky: Usually losing on the road against a top-10 team doesn’t cause much of a fall, but the margin of the defeat is glaring. The Wildcats have plenty of meat on the nonconferce schedule, including home games against No. 4 Louisville, No. 24 California and No. 12 Tennessee.
Baylor: A win Sunday against No. 16 Stanford would all but guarantee a move up, especially after No. 8 Ohio State’s loss to No. 14 Duke on Thursday night.
Kentucky will return home for a two-game stretch, beginning with Tennessee Tech on Sunday.
Baylor will play its second straight ranked opponent Sunday when it hosts No. 16 Stanford.