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Goodin-Rogers heats up as UK returns home

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Kyvin Goodin-Rogers had a quiet trip to the beach last week, at least offensively.

Managing just nine points on UK's three-game voyage to the Virgin Islands, including just one in her final two games combined, Goodin-Rogers had gone cold after a strong start to her college career.

She had to come home to chilly Kentucky to heat back up.

Goodin-Rogers poured in a game-high 19 points, including 16 in the first half of an 82-64 Kentucky win over Northern Kentucky. In fact, she exceeded her previous career high less than eight minutes in.

"She was aggressive to start offensively and when she gets in a rhythm and can make some 3s for us and get to the basket and play with some energy offensively in transition, she can help us out," Matthew Mitchell said.

Goodin-Rogers was the star in an otherwise sluggish start for the Wildcats, who moved to 7-1 on Wednesday ahead of a Sunday trip to archrival Louisville. She scored 13 of UK's first 19 points to help build an early nine-point lead, capped by the first of her two 3-pointers.

She didn't waste any time surpassing her point total from the Virgin Islands games, but she also wasn't overly concerned about her offense from last week. Facing powerful front lines against the likes of Illinois and Oklahoma, she knew her role on UK's Thanksgiving trip.

"In the Virgin Islands I was more focused on defense than I was on offense because I needed to rebound more because the girls were so big," Goodin-Rogers said. "And tonight I was able to just play instead of focusing on one little thing."

Goodin-Rogers certainly played in her return to Memorial Coliseum, but she and her fellow post players still have room for growth.

Among UK's regular interior rotation, only Azia Bishop had played a college game entering this season. As a result, Goodin-Rogers, Alyssa Rice and Alexis Jennings have suffered more than anyone from the game slippage that comes from so little early-season practice time with a packed schedule.

"We've just got to take advantage of some practice time and get better in the half-court," Mitchell said. "Our post players are seeing a lot of packed lanes and we're not reading those situations real well in the half-court."

That places an added importance on the three days of practice UK will have leading up to a matchup with No. 7 Louisville.

"I thought tonight we were a bit unfocused and we can't play our best when we play that way," Mitchell said. "We played well enough to win tonight and you can't take that victory away from us, but clearly we have to play much sharper. I think their confidence level can increase between now and then with some good practice."

The Kentucky volleyball had to wait until late in Sunday night's Selection Show to find out, but the Wildcats earned the No. 13 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. Here's their reaction.


UK will host Oakland in the first round at 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday with a potential second-round matchup with Lipscomb or Ohio State on Saturday at 7 p.m. All-session tickets for the weekend are on sale now and can be purchased in the following ways:

  • By calling the UK Ticket Office at (800) 928-2287 or (859) 257-1818, Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
  • By visiting the UK Ticket Office in the Joe Craft Center
  • By ordering online

Video: Highlights from UK's win over Providence

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Video: Johnson, Ulis on UK's matchup with Providence

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Video: Coach Cal previews matchup with Providence

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Mark Stoops hoped a bye week would reenergize his team, leading to a strong week of preparation and good performance in its season finale.

So far, he's getting exactly what he wanted.

"It's been a good week of practice so far," Stoops said. "The guys are very energetic, worked hard, enthusiastic. So it's been good. Excited about the opportunity here this week."

The opportunity for Kentucky is two-fold.

To begin with, the Wildcats get to face rival Louisville at noon ET on Saturday in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. To that end, UK continued its educational series on the rivalry by watching a handful of clips from Governor's Cup games past.

Other coaches might downplay the importance of the matchup, but not Stoops. He sees UK-UL as an important part of what it means to be at Kentucky.

"It's a rivalry," Stoops said. "We want to embrace that rivalry. We want kids to be a part of that and know when they come play at Kentucky that Louisville's a big game for us."

Stoops and his staff have needed some educating too, since most have still only been in Lexington for less than two years. Included in that group is defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot, who has quickly learned about the intensity of the rivalry.

"Well, one thing that I've learned is this is as big a rivalry as anywhere I've been," Eliot said. "The players want to win. The fans want to win. It's something that is special and it's something you look forward to."

At the same time, the Cats are looking forward to their last chance to secure their sixth win and clinch bowl eligibility. Stoops, just as he hasn't hidden from the magnitude of UK-UL, has acknowledged the importance of reaching that plateau for his program.

Even so, that's not the message he's delivering to his team. He simply sees a group that deserves to keep playing football.

"I haven't said anything about a playoff, but I've said it's pretty self-explanatory," Stoops said. "If we win, then we're going to play another game and, I've told them, they deserve it. They've worked hard, they've done a lot of good things and worked hard for a solid year leading up into this season and did some good things. So I'd like the opportunity for them."

Before that opportunity, the Cats will tweak their game-day schedule slightly for Thanksgiving. They will practice earlier than normal on Thursday before eating a meal together. After that, Stoops has given them the night off, with an option to stop by his house in the evening.

Stoops and his wife Chantel are prepared for a crowd.

"We're going to have a dinner right afterwards for the whole group and then I told them my house was open," Stoops said. "So I may get anywhere from two to a hundred."


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