By Stephen Hawkins
The Associated Press
WACO, Texas — Brittney Griner scored 27 points with eight rebounds and No. 1 Baylor easily passed what was expected to be its first real challenge, overwhelming sixth-ranked Kentucky 85-51 Tuesday night.
Odyssey Sims added 18 points with six assists and four steals. Destiny Williams had 14 points and 12 rebounds for the defending national champion Lady Bears, who have won 42 games in a row.
After unfurling their 2012 national championship banner high from the rafters at the Ferrell Center before the game, the Lady Bears (2-0) went on to build a 46-19 halftime lead against the defending SEC champions who returned four starters and are favored to win that league again.
A’dia Mathies, the reigning SEC player of the year, had 12 points on 3-of-18 shooting for Kentucky (1-1). Bria Goss had 11 points.
Griner missed her first two shots, and put Baylor up 13-8 when she finally scored on a layup 6 1/2 minutes into the game. That started a 2-minute span when the 6-foot-8 All-American scored 10 points, extended the lead to 23-13.
She then made 11 consecutive field goals before missing a short hook shot with just under 10 minutes left in the game. By that time Baylor led 69-33, and Griner was out of the game for good on the next timeout.
The Lady Bears head to Hawaii next, where they play fourth-ranked Stanford on Friday in the opener of the Rainbow Wahine Classic. That is a rematch of last season’s national semifinal game Baylor won 59-47 in Denver.
The only other time Baylor played back-to-back top-10 opponents during the regular season was 2004, when they did it twice against Texas and Texas Tech.
Goss made a layup for Kentucky with 7:52 left, it was 25-15. The Wildcats then went more than 5 minutes without scoring until Goss made a 3-pointer.
In the meantime, Baylor scored 17 points in a row. Sims had 10 of those points, including a pair of three-point plays, the later with 3:04 left that stretched the lead to 42-15.
Kentucky’s tenacious defense — a pressure, trapping, and often in-your-face attack — forced 22 turnovers. But the Wildcats managed only 12 points off those miscues.
That wasn’t nearly enough to beat the Lady Bears, who have also won 42 games in a row at home. That is tied with Miami (Fla.), for the second longest active home winning streak behind Stanford’s 80 in a row.
Sims, Griner and Williams were already in double-figure scoring by halftime. Brooklyn Pope finished with 10 points.
Griner had her 82nd consecutive double-figure scoring game while playing 29 minutes, when she also had five blocked shots and three steals. Her Big 12-record 606 career blocked shots are 57 behind the NCAA mark.
Kentucky plays its next four games at home before its Dec. 2 instate showdown at eighth-ranked Louisville.
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