Kentucky's LaTonya McDole saw an opportunity and took it. It meant the Wildcats' biggest victory in 15 years.
McDole's running one-hander from the middle of the lane with four seconds remaining gave host Kentucky a 71-69 upset of No. 5 Auburn last night in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.
After the Wildcats (9-4) inbounding the ball with 11 seconds remaining, their set play broke down. McDole found herself with the ball and guarded by freshman LeCoe Willingham. So she drove the lane.
"I've told players any time there's a mismatch, you've got to take them one on one," Kentucky Coach Bernadette Mattox said. "That's a big-time play."
Even as point guard Erica Jackson called for the ball, McDole stayed focused. "I penetrated and I heard 'E' calling my name, but I saw I had a mismatch so I shot it," she said. The off-balance shot found the basket.
Tiffany Krantz rushed the ball upcourt with a chance to give Auburn (11-2) the tie or win, but her desperation shot from 16 feet was off the mark.
Auburn is the highest-ranked team Kentucky has beaten since 1985, when it upset fifth-ranked Georgia, 61-57, at home.
* FLORIDA 85, MISSISSIPPI ST. 72: Naomi Mobley tied her career high with 21 points and added 14 rebounds to lead the host Gators over the No. 18 Bulldogs (11-1) in the SEC opener for both schools.
Mobley scored 17 points in the second half, including Florida's first 10 after the break, as the Gators (10-2) ended the Bulldogs' 11-game winning streak. Florida's 19-6 run midway through the second half put the game out of reach.
* PENN ST. 55, PURDUE 50: The No. 6 Lady Lions had more turnovers (25) than baskets (21), yet still were good enough to beat the No. 12 Boilermakers.
Andrea Garner scored 14 points as Penn State held off a second-half comeback and snapped the defending NCAA champions' streaks of 25 consecutive victories against Big Ten opponents and 21 straight at home overall.
Penn State (11-2, 3-0) built a 17-point lead early in the second half, thanks to Purdue's miserable shooting and repeated turnovers. But the Lady Lions' errors began catching up with them and a 13-point run by Purdue (9-3, 1-1) turned a seeming rout into a close game over the final 12 minutes.
* TENNESSEE 86, LSU 50: Michelle Snow scored 22 points and Tamika Catchings had 10 points and 11 rebounds as the No. 2 Lady Vols (11-1, 1-0 SEC) beat the No. 16 Tigers (10-3, 1-1) for their first victory in Baton Rouge, La., since 1995. Tennessee hosts No. 1 Connecticut Saturday.
* N.C. STATE 62, FLORIDA STATE 58: The third-ranked Wolfpack continued its best start in school history as Tynesha Lewis and Kaayla Chones scored 17 points apiece in Tallahassee. Terah Lewis added 10 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists for the Wolfpack (13-0, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference).
* ARIZONA 71, CALIFORNIA 58: Tatum Brown scored 15 points and the No. 18 Wildcats (12-1) won their Pac-10 opener at home.
* ARKANSAS STATE 67, W. KENTUCKY 62: Julie Hagood's three-pointer and three free throws late in the game boosted the No. 25 Indians (10-1, 1-0 Sun Belt) in Jonesboro, Ark.