A'dia Mathies, Kentucky top Vanderbilt, 76-65

DULUTH, Ga. (AP) -- A'dia Mathies had 16 points and five steals and No. 7 Kentucky kept its lead in double figures the last 25 minutes of its 76-65 win over Vanderbilt in the SEC tournament on Friday night.

The last point Vanderbilt trailed by single digits was at 26-17. Kentucky's big lead was 22 points at 52-30 early in the second half.

Kentucky (26-4) had an impressive start to its postseason after setting a school record with 13 SEC regular-season wins. The Wildcats closed the regular season with a home win over Tennessee to clinch the No. 2 seed in the tournament.

Kentucky advanced to its fifth semifinal in the last eight years. Its only tournament championship came in 1982.

DeNesh Stallworth had 14 points in only 21 minutes for Kentucky.

Tiffany Clarke, playing in her hometown, had 24 points and 12 rebounds for Vanderbilt (20-11). Jasmine Lister had 17 points.

Vanderbilt made only 9 of 19 free throws.

Vanderbilt's only lead came on the first basket of the game. An inside basket by Stallworth started a 9-0 Kentucky run that also a fast-break layup by Mathies, followed by a Mathies steal and basket.

The opening run set the pace for Kentucky and its self-proclaimed "40 minutes of dread" defense.

The Wildcats lead the nation with their plus-8.9 turnover margin while leading the SEC with their averages of 12 steals and 5 blocked shots per game.

Kentucky's steals totals rose quickly as the defense, led by Mathies, was sometimes overwhelming. Mathies had five of the Wildcats' 10 first-half steals, leading to 15 turnovers for the Commodores in the first 20 minutes.

The Wildcats finished with 14 steals and eight blocks, including three by Samarie Walker.

The Wildcats led 38-23 at halftime and stretched the lead to 22 points at 52-30 with an 11-0 run early in the second half.

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