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Coach Mitchell has a personal respect for the profession, which is why he is serving as the spokesperson for the program again in 2013.
"Teaching is my job, teaching is my passion. And it is something that I love and hope to do the rest of my life," he said. "It is a tremendous thing to be a teacher."
Now in its 15th year, the Teachers Who Made a Difference program gives individuals an opportunity to thank the teachers, principals, college professors or other educators who have inspired and motivated them to succeed.
The program does not select winners from a pool of nominees. Rather, the College of Education created the program to provide individuals a means to express thanks to educators who have impacted their lives. Honorees can be from anywhere and do not have to be affiliated with UK; however, the number of honorees to be recognized is limited. Organizers ask that each nominator limit recognitions to one educator per year.
Submissions are being accepted until March 8. To honor an educator, head to this link on the College of Education's website.
Every Tuesday, UK Athletics recognizes outstanding performances for our student-athletes. These are the honorees for the week ending Sunday, Feb. 24:
Men's basketball: Willie Cauley-Stein
Freshman Willie Cauley-Stein had a breakout week in helping lead UK to a pair of crucial victories this week. Cauley-Stein averaged 13.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. His 19 rebounds for the week, .647 field goal percentage, blocks and steals were all team highs. Cauley-Stein began the week by pouring in a career-high 20 points to couple with a team-high seven rebounds and three blocks. He made 8-of-10 field goals in the win over Vanderbilt. In an overtime thriller of a victory over Missouri, Cauley-Stein played in a career-high 35 minutes. The first-year player altered the game defensively with a career-high seven blocked shots. His 12 rebounds was a career-high tying, and it marked only the third game in his career with double-figure rebounding. He added seven points to the winning cause in addition to another steal.
Baseball: Jerad Grundy
Senior southpaw Jerad Grundy continued his dominating start to 2013 with a win over Elon in a pitching duel with 2012 Cape Cod League All-Star Dylan Clark ... Grundy worked seven innings in the win, allowing only three hits and one run, walking two and striking out three ... Elon hit .136 against the Johnsburg, Ill., native with Grundy only facing three hitters over the minimum ... Grundy opened the first 12.1 innings of the year without allowing an earned run, before the Phoenix got a solo homer in the seventh inning ... On the year, Grundy has a 2-0 mark and a 0.69 ERA, tossing 13 innings, allowing seven hits and three walks, striking out 12, with foes hitting .152.
Softball: Griffin Joiner
Griffin Joiner continued her hot bat, earning a hit in every game to move her season-long hitting streak to five games - just one off her career best. Joiner hit .583 (7-for-12) for the weekend, while slugging at a 1.250 clip, and posting two or more RBI in every game. Her three hits against Howard tied a career high, while her three RBI against Howard and USC Upstate also tied a career high. The native of Hopkinsville, Ky., blasted two homers on the weekend, including a go-ahead bomb in UK's thrilling 11-inning win against USC Upstate. Joiner leads the team with three roundtrippers, while sitting tied for first with four doubles and second on the team with 12 RBI.
Baseball: Max Kuhn
Sophomore infielder Max Kuhn continued his blistering pace to open the 2013 season, leading UK in hitting during a challenging three games at the Caravelle Resort Invitational ... Kuhn hit .385 (5-for-13) with a double and two RBI during the week, including a career-best three-hit game vs. Kansas State on Thursday ... On the year, Kuhn is hitting .320 (8-for-25) with two doubles and a triple, adding seven RBI and a 5-3 walk-strikeout ratio.
Women's basketball: A'dia Mathies
- Senior guard A'dia Mathies led UK in scoring on the week, averaging 16.5 points per contest, along with 4.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.0 steals.
- Despite playing just five minutes in the first half due to two early fouls, Mathies scored a team-high 13 points in the second half to help lead the Wildcats over No. 10/13 Texas A&M 70-66.
- The win snapped A&M's 12-game home winning streak and gave UK its fourth win over a ranked opponent this season, including second win over a top-10 team on the road.
- Scored 17 of 20 points in the second half at LSU, marking her sixth 20-plus point outing and moving her to No. 2 on UK's all-time scoring list.
- Also grabbed six rebounds and equaled a team-high with three assists.
- Has reached double figures in 25-of-27 games this season, including 18 in a row.
- With four 3-pointers on the week, is tied for ninth on UK's single season 3-pointers made list with 55.
- Ranks in the top 10 on 13 UK career lists, including No. 2 in scoring (1,863), No. 3 in steals (297) and No. 5 in field goals made (656) and 3-pointers made (159).
- Only player in UK history to accumulate over 1,800 points, 500 rebounds, 300 assists and 250 steals in her career.
- Overall, leads the team in scoring (15.9 ppg), 3-pointers made (55) and is second in assists per game (2.4) this season.
- Averaging a team-high 18.2 points per game in SEC play and is tied for the team-high with 1.6 steals per contest.
Men's basketball: Julius Mays
Senior Julius Mays was sensational in helping lead UK to a pair of critical victories this week. The senior logged 16.5 points for the week to go along with 6.0 rebounds and 3.1 assists. In the opener for the week, Mays logged nine points and a team-high six assists. He added six rebounds and a steal. He was magnificent in the win over Missouri playing in a career-high 44 minutes. He logged a season-high 24 points while going .500 from the field including 4-of-8 from behind the arc. He added six more rebounds and dished out three assists. Furthermore, he was 8-of-9 from the free throw line including a perfect 6-fo-6 in overtime. Mays has connected on a least one 3-pointer in 16-straight games and has made multiple 3s in seven-straight. UK is 5-0 when he pulls down six or more rebounds, which he achieved in both outings this week.
Softball: Maisie Steed
Produced for Kentucky in limited action, hitting .600 (3-for-5) for the weekend with three RBI, including a double, homer and stolen base. Steed's homer was the second of the season, ranking her tied for second on the team. The freshman walked three times against USC Upstate, coming home to score once. Steed played solid defense all weekend, not committing an error even though she played third base, first base and both corner outfield positions.
- Kentucky captured a pair of critical home victories this week including an overtime thriller against Missouri.
- Senior Julius Mays poured in a team-high 24 points in the win over Missouri on Saturday. He launched four 3-pointers and has now connected on at least one shot from long range in 16 straight games.
- Freshman Willie Cauley-Stein notched a career-high 20 points to push UK past Vanderbilt earlier in the week. He followed that performance with
a career-high tying 12 rebounds against Missouri to go along with a career-best seven blocked shots.
- Alex Poythress scored 21 points, while Archie Goodwin notched 18 - all coming after the half in the win over Missouri.
- Kentucky split road games last week, defeating No. 10/13 Texas A&M 70-66 in College Station on ESPN2's Big Monday before falling at LSU on Sunday in Baton Rouge 77-72.
- Against the Aggies, junior center DeNesha Stallworth flirted with a triple-double as she charted 12 points, 12 rebounds and a school-record seven blocks. .
- Mathies netted a team-high 20 points at LSU, passing former Wildcat great Victoria Dunlap as UK's No. 2 all-time leading scorer with 1,863 career points.
- Kentucky recorded its best score of the year at Florida on Friday. The Wildcats finished with a total score of 196.075, dropping the meet to the Gators' score of 196.975.
- UK's score was good for the sixth best in program history.
- The Wildcats used season-high event scores on vault and beam to reach 196 for the first time this season.
- Audrey Harrison also notched her sixth all-around title of the season and fourth in a row, scoring a 39.225.
- The Kentucky rifle team finished second at the Great America Rifle Conference over the weekend, shooting a 4690 over the course of the weekend.
- Freshman Connor Davis won the GARC individual air rifle title, shooting a 596 before winning with a 105 in the Final.
- Senior Henri Junghanel placed second overall individually with an aggregate score of 1179.
- The UK softball team continued its winning ways over the weekend with a 3-0 record, taking down Georgetown, Howard and USC Upstate.
- Sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner led the Wildcats offensively with a .583 (7-for-12) average with two doubles, two homers, eight RBI and four runs scored.
- Pitchers Ellen Weaver, Katie Henderson and Kelsey Nunley all recorded wins, while Weaver going five strong innings, allowing only one hit and no runs against Georgetown and Henderson allowing only one hit over five innings against Howard. Nunley threw the final nine innings against Upstate to get the win.
- No. 8 Kentucky continued its season-opening six-game road trip with the Caravelle Resort Invitational, hosted by Coastal Carolina in Myrtle Beach. S.C., picking up wins over CCU and Elon and suffering its first loss of the year to Kansas State in the opener on Thursday.
- UK finished the weekend with a ninth-inning win at Coastal Carolina, 2-2.
- UK has hit .314 as a team through six games, slugging .435 and reaching base at a .311 clip. UK has stolen 12 bases and on the mound, owns a 3.57 ERA, with 16 walks and 42 strikeouts in 53 innings.
Track and field
- The women's track and field team finished seventh in the SEC Indoor Championship team standings with 34 points, and the men finished 10th with 30.
- Cally Macumber led all Wildcats with 15 points earned throughout the meet. Matt Hillenbrand led the men with 11.25. Macumber won the women's 3,000 meters SEC championship.
- Hillenbrand won the SEC mile championship with a time of 4:01.55. Hillenbrand's time was a new personal best, and the seventh-fastest in school history. The junior became the first Kentucky athlete to win the SEC men's mile since David Freeman took home the title in 2004.
- The No. 6 men's tennis team traveled to Birmingham, Ala., this weekend and collected two wins in a doubleheader with Samford University and Jacksonville State, both by a score of 5-1, to move to 12-2 on the season.
- No. 90 Anthony Rossi picked up his 93rd and 94th career wins in a UK uniform on Sunday with wins in both matches for the Wildcats.
- Also picking up wins in both ends of the doubleheader for the Wildcats were Beck Pennington, Kevin Lai and Juan Pablo Murra.
- The Kentucky women's tennis team defeated the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks 5-2.
- Freshman Nadia Ravita improved to 7-1 in the No. 1 singles slot after defeating Christiana Raymond 6-1, 6-2.
- Senior Jessica Stiles and sophomore Stephanie Fox won their singles matches in straight sets, with Stiles winning 6-4, 6-3 and Fox taking the No. 6 singles point 6-3, 6-1.
- The Wildcats moved into the rankings for the first time this season, landing in the No. 63 spot.
- The Kentucky men's golf team opened up its 2013 spring season, placing 10th out of 16 teams in the Mobile Bay Intercollegiate. UK finished 37-over-par with a final score of 901.
- Senior Chase Parker was the low golfer of the week for the Wildcats, finishing tied for 16th overall at 4-over-par.
- Junior transfer Ben Stow made his Kentucky debut, placing tied for 27th at 6-over-par.
Swimming and diving
- The UK men's and women's swimming and diving teams competed in the 2013 Southeastern Conference Swimming and Diving Championships last week with both the men (368.5) and the women (452.5) finishing in ninth place.
- Junior diver Greg Ferrucci earned two second place finishes on the 1-meter and 3-meter springboard events and earned an eighth place on the platform. He broke the program record on the platform in the preliminaries with a 435.5.
- Junior swimmer Lucas Gerotto broke multiple program records at the Championships including the 200-IM (1:47.20) and the 100-backstroke (47.29).
Tuesday, Feb. 26
Women's tennis hosts Eastern Kentucky - 10:00 a.m.
Women's tennis hosts Northern Kentucky - 1:00 p.m.
Baseball hosts Murray State - 4:00 p.m.
Women's tennis hosts Abilene Christian - 6:00 p.m.
Wednesday Feb. 27
Baseball hosts Eastern Kentucky - 4:00 p.m.
Men's basketball hosts Mississippi State - 8:00 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 28
Women's basketball at Ole Miss - 8:00 p.m.
Friday, March 1
Softball vs. Illinois - 11:30 a.m. (Tampa, Fla.)
Women's tennis at Arkansas - 1:00 p.m.
Men's tennis hosts Arkansas - 1:00 p.m.
Softball vs. USF - 2:00 p.m. (Tampa, Fla.)
Baseball hosts Akron - 4:00 p.m.
Track and field at NCAA Qualifying (South Bend, Ind./Fayetteville, Ark.)
Saturday, March 2
Baseball hosts Akron - Noon
Softball vs. Loyola Marymount - 12:15 p.m. (Tampa, Fla.)
Softball vs. Central Michigan - 2:45 p.m. (Tampa, Fla.)
Baseball hosts Akron - 3:00 p.m.
Men's basketball at Arkansas - 4:00 p.m.
Swimming and diving at Last Chance Meet (Knoxville, Tenn./Athens, Ga.)
Track and field at Last Chance Qualifier (Fayetteville, Ark.)
Sunday, March 3
Softball vs. Western Michigan - 9:00 a.m. (Tampa, Fla.)
Men's tennis hosts LSU - 1:00 p.m.
Women's tennis at LSU - 1:00 p.m.
Gymnastics at Ball State - 1:00 p.m.
Baseball hosts Akron - 1:00 p.m.
Women's basketball hosts Tennessee - 3:30 p.m.
Men's golf at USF Invitational (Tampa, Fla.)
Swimming and diving at Last Chance Meet (Knoxville, Tenn./ Athens, Ga.)
But over their last two games, the Cats have experienced life without Mathies and Stallworth, at least in spurts anyway.
In the second half against South Carolina, Mitchell elected to sit Stallworth for all but one minute as she worked through a mini-slump. In the first half at Texas A&M, Mathies played just five minutes due to foul trouble and was held scoreless.
Based on how well Mathies and Stallworth have played much of the season, that sounds like a recipe for a pair of losses against two ranked opponents. Instead, the Cats completed a 16-point second-half comeback against South Carolina with minimal contributions from Stallworth and built a halftime lead minus Mathies en route to a win over the Aggies.
"It's really amazing," Mitchell said. "In DeNesha and A'dia, you are talking about two of the most talented players and most physically gifted players in the league and you win two games against two of the best teams in the league without really a normal contribution from your two most talented players and it's really remarkable."
It didn't happen by accident either. Mathies and Stallworth are surrounded by more talent than has ever filled a UK Hoops roster. There's no doubt the Cats are better when the inside-outside duo is functioning well, but it's a boost to know they can win without prime performances from Mathies and Stallworth heading into a road rematch with LSU (15-10, 6-6 Southeastern Conference) at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday.
"You just have to believe that it gives us confidence," Mitchell said. "It certainly does from a coaching perspective."
It also serves another purpose. Having seen just how capable their teammates are, a measure of pressure to perform is lifted off of Mathies and Stallworth. That likely doesn't mean a great deal to Mathies - the defending SEC Player of the Year - because she has gotten the job done throughout her career whether opponents leave her wide open or send triple teams her way.
But for Stallworth, it could make a major difference. At times, the Cal transfer has been dominant. Others - like a recent two-game stretch against South Carolina and Vanderbilt - she has had little go right.
"I think what DeNesha struggles with is just confidence in herself," Mitchell said. "All of us that can watch her think that's silly because she is so dynamic and so talented."
Without the weight of the world on her shoulders, her talent might just shine through more often.
It certainly did at Texas A&M. With 12 points and 12 rebounds, she had her first double-double in nearly a month. On defense, she registered a school-record seven blocks while going head-to-head with Kelsey Bone, the SEC's leading scorer and rebounder.
"She responded at the right time, we certainly needed that kind of performance Monday night," Mitchell said. "I would think DeNesha and all of our team, you should leave that game understanding what you accomplished and how well you played and I would think that would give you a lot of confidence."
UK may have won last week without Stallworth playing her best, but Mitchell would still rather avoid that situation going forward. The Cats have just three regular-season games left and trail Tennessee by a game in the SEC race with a matchup with the Lady Volunteers set for next weekend. First, however, UK must tame the Tigers for a second time.
On Jan. 27, the Cats defeated LSU 73-60 in a game Mitchell remembers as closer than the score might suggest. He's right, because UK led by four points with 1:57 left before closing on a 9-0 run.
"They are very, very talented and they have some explosive scorers at really three positions with Theresa Plaisance and two of their guards, (Adrienne Webb) and (Danielle Ballard), are really just difficult players to deal with," Mitchell said.
Not only are the Tigers talented, but they are playing for their tournament lives. LSU has won three straight starting with an upset of then-No. 9/10 Georgia and the Tigers last lost in a 64-62 heartbreaker to Tennessee.
"I just think it's going to be a real motivated group and a very talented group so it will be a tough game for us," Mitchell said.
Every Tuesday, UK Athletics recognizes outstanding performances for our student-athletes. These are the honorees for the week ending Sunday, Feb. 17:
Baseball: Jerad Grundy
Senior southpaw Jerad Grundy had a great season debut, pitching UK to a win over Niagara on Sunday ... Grundy worked six innings without allowing an earned run, walking one and tying his career high with nine strikeouts ... Grundy allowed only four hits and held NU to a .167 batting average ... In the middle innings, Grundy struck out five consecutive hitters, not allowing a hit the second time through the order ... Grundy retired In his two-year UK career, Grundy has started 17 games with a 7-3 record and a 3.53 ERA.
Softball: Lauren Cumbess
- Led the team in hitting against some of the best teams in the nation, helping the Wildcats defeat No. 16 Washington and San Diego State, who was receiving votes in one poll. Cumbess hit .500 over the weekend, going 8-for-16 with two homers, one double and five RBI.
- Cumbess leads the team overall in batting average (.429), hits (15), homers (two), RBI (10) and slugging percentage (.657). She had a hit in every game throughout the tournament, including two against Keilani Ricketts, who pitched two no-hitters the opening weekend of the season to earn National Player of the Week honors. She is currently on a five-game hitting streak, the longest of the season by any Wildcat
- The native of Normal, Ill., also pitched well over the weekend, going 1-0 with a 1.40 ERA. She threw a complete game shutout against Cal Poly, going seven innings, allowing only four hits while striking out seven. Cumbess paces the team in ERA with a 2.04 mark and is second in strikeouts with 22.
Softball: Kelsey Nunley
- Pitched beautifully for the Wildcats in the second tournament of the season, posting a 2.21 ERA with wins against San Diego State, who was receiving votes in one major poll, No. 16 Washington and UC Riverside. She threw a complete game shutout against San Diego State, allowing only three hits while striking out seven and only walking two. Also went six innings the next day against highly ranked Washington, allowing six hits and one run - none earned - striking out three with no walks.
- Nunley came on in relief against UC Riverside after UK just captured a 4-3 lead and shut the door, allowing the highlanders only one hit over her three innings in the circle while striking out two batters.
- In her two starts over the weekend, Nunley went 13 innings, allowing nine hits and no earned runs with 10 strikeouts. In her four starts this season, Nunley is 4-0 and 6-0 overall. In those four starts Nunley has thrown 25 innings, allowing only three runs - two earned - while striking out 27 and walking seven.
Women's basketball: Jennifer O'Neill
- Redshirt sophomore point guard Jennifer O'Neill led Kentucky to a 78-74 come-from-behind victory over No. 16/14 South Carolina.
- Scored 19 points, including 10 in the decisive second half as Kentucky came back from a 16-point deficit to record its largest comeback in the Matthew Mitchell era and tie the fourth-largest comeback in school history.
- Pulled down a season-high six rebounds and hit 6-of-7 from the charity stripe in a season-high 36 minutes.
- With the game knotted at 72 with 25 seconds remaining, O'Neill found open teammate Kastine Evans under the basket for a layup to give UK a two-point lead. She later iced the game by sinking two free throws with 16 seconds to go, giving the Wildcats a four-point advantage.
- Ranks third on the team in scoring at 10.2 points per contest, including 12.5 points in league play.
- Has reached double figures in 12 games this season, including nine of 12 SEC contests.
- Ranks tied for second on the team in 3-point field goals made (43) and 3-point percentage (.387). Her 3-point percentage also ties for fourth on UK's single season list.
Baseball: J.T. Riddle
Junior J.T. Riddle had one of the most prolific weekends in Kentucky baseball history, batting .786 (11-for-14) to open the year, with three doubles, one triple, one homer and six RBI ... Riddle collected 19 total bases, charted a 1.357 slugging and a .824 on-base percentage ... In a win on Sunday, Riddle set a new program record with a 6-for-6, three runs, three RBI game at the plate, including ripping a triple off the centerfield fence, finishing a homer shy of hitting for the cycle ... In the season opener, he pelted doubles off the left and rightfield walls in a 3-for-5 game ... In the finale of the weekend, Riddle went 2-for-3 with two RBI and two runs ... He had a walk and two hit by pitches, belting his first homer of the year as a no-doubt blast to spark a dramatic UK comeback win on Monday at USC Upstate.
- The Kentucky men's basketball team dropped an 88-58 loss to Tennessee on Saturday. Sophomore Kyle Wiltjer led the Cats with 18 points and six rebounds.
- Senior Julius Mays scored 12 points and has logged 10 or more points in five straight games.
- Junior Jarrod Polson contributed a career-high 11 points.
- Kentucky has won its last three games and looks to keep its winning streak alive when it faces No. 11/13 Texas A&M on ESPN2's Big Monday in the second meeting of the season between the teams.
- The Wildcats charted their 10th SEC win last week with an impressive come-from-behind victory over No. 16/14 South Carolina. Trailing by 16 points early in the second half, the Wildcats used a four-guard set to chip away at the Gamecocks' lead and win 78-74 - the largest comeback in the Matthew Mitchell era.
- Four players scored in double digits led by redshirt sophomore point guard Jennifer O'Neill with 19.
- Then-No. 17 Kentucky defeated Missouri 194.250-194.125 on Friday night in Memorial Coliseum.
- Audrey Harrison was the lone all-around competitor posting a 39.3, which tied her career-high set last week.
- The junior also won balance beam, and shared the honors on uneven bars and floor exercise.
- The Knoxville, Tenn., native now has 12 individual event honors this season and 19 in her career.
- Her five all-around wins in 2013 have all come against Southeastern Conference competition.
- Shannon Mitchell tied Harrison for the floor title, her second of the season and the third of her career.
- The Kentucky rifle team shot a 4697 on Saturday at the NCAA Qualifiers.
- Sophomore Elijah Ellis and senior Stacy Wheatley delivered personal bests in smallbore, with Ellis posting a 583 and Wheatley shooting a 586.
- Senior Henri Junghänel led the team in smallbore and air rifle, shooting a 588 in smallbore and a 594 in air rifle.
- The No. 22/24 UK softball team continued where it left off last weekend by defeating another ranked team en route to a 4-1 record in the 23rd Campbell/Cartier Classic in San Diego. The Wildcats posted wins over No. 16 Washington, San Diego State - who is receiving votes in one poll - Cal Poly and UC Riverside.
- Junior pitcher/infielder Lauren Cumbess paced the Wildcats throughout the weekend at the plate, blasting two homers for a .500 average (8-for-16) at the event with five RBI. Cumbess also went 1-0 in the circle, while freshman hurler Kelsey Nunley went 3-0 with a 2.21 ERA over the weekend. Nunley defeated San Diego State and Washington, throwing a complete game shutout against the Aztecs allowing only three hits.
- UK has now defeated three ranked teams this season in then-No. 3 Cal, No. 16 Washington and No. 20 Stanford. Coach Rachel Lawson and Co. have also taken down Oregon State and SDSU, who both were receiving votes when UK posted wins against them. After two weekends of play, UK is 8-3 with its only losses coming to No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 3 Arizona State and unranked Portland State.
- Kentucky began the season 2-0 with wins over UNC Asheville and Niagara in Spartanburg, S.C. UK wraps up play at Wofford on Monday against USC Upstate.
- Junior second baseman J.T. Riddle set a new program record with a 6-for-6 game at the plate and starter Jerad Grundy tied a career-best with nine strikeouts in six innings in the win over Niagara.
- Sophomore All-America southpaw A.J. Reed worked five innings on the mound and went a career-best 4-for-5 at the plate with three RBI, leading No. 8 Kentucky to a 9-2 season-opening win over UNC Asheville.
- Kentucky advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2013 ITA National Team Indoor Championships this weekend in Seattle, recording wins over No. 10 Mississippi State (4-0), and No. 6 Georgia (4-2).
- UK's No. 90 Anthony Rossi went 2-0 in singles action, defeating No. 12 Raymond Sarmiento of Southern Cal and knocking off No. 21 Nathan Pasha of Georgia 6-4, 7-6 (7) on Sunday.
- With the wins this weekend, UK recorded their seventh win of the season over teams in the top 25 of the ITA rankings, as the Wildcats are now 3-1 versus teams in the top 10.
- Tom Jomby also went 2-0 in singles play this weekend, collecting two straight-set wins. On Friday, Jomby ran past No. 43 Malte Stroppe of Mississippi State 6-2, 6-0 before giving UK a crucial point in its match with UGA, collecting a 6-
4, 6-4 win over No. 92 over No. 92 Ben Wagland at the two slot.
- The Kentucky women's tennis team knocked off No. 55 Ohio State and No. 54 Indiana throughout the course of the week, taking both matches 4-3.
- Freshman Nadia Ravita recorded two singles win in the No. 1 slot to go along with two doubles wins in the No. 1 slot, paired with junior Caitlin McGraw.
- Senior Jessica Stiles went 2-0 on the week in the No. 2 singles spot, taking both matches in straight sets.
- The UK women's golf team began their 2013 spring season with an eighth place finish in the 15-team field at the Lady Puerto Rico Classic Feb. 10-12.
- Senior Ashleigh Albrecht was the low finisher for the Wildcats, tying for 14th at 7-over-par.
- Junior Liz Breed and freshman Sarah Harris were tied for 28th at 12-over, while freshman Cylia Damerau placed tied for 34th at 13-over.
Tuesday, Feb. 19
Women's tennis hosts Miami (OH) - 4:00 p.m.
Swimming and diving at SEC Championships (College, Station, Texas)
Men's golf at Mobile Bay Intercollegiate (Mobile, Ala.)
Wednesday, Feb. 20
Men's basketball hosts Vanderbilt - 8:00 p.m.
Swimming and diving at SEC Championships (College, Station, Texas)
Thursday, Feb. 21
Swimming and diving at SEC Championships (College, Station, Texas)
Friday, Feb. 22
Baseball vs. Elon - Noon (Myrtle Beach, S.C.)
Softball vs. Presbyterian - 2:00 p.m. (Spartanburg, S.C.)
Gymnastics at Florida - 7:00 p.m.
Swimming and diving at SEC Championships (College, Station, Texas)
Track and field at SEC Championships (Fayetteville, Ark.)
Saturday, Feb. 23
Softball vs. Georgetown - Noon (Spartanburg, S.C.)
Women's tennis at Kansas - 1:00 p.m.
Softball vs. USC Upstate - 2:00 p.m. (Spartanburg, S.C.)
Baseball vs. Coastal Carolina - 3:00 p.m. (Myrtle Beach, S.C.)
Men's basketball hosts Missouri - 9:00 p.m.
Swimming and diving at SEC Championships (College Station, Texas)
Track and field at SEC Championships (Fayetteville, Ark.)
Rifle at GARC Championships (Oxford, Miss.)
Sunday, Feb. 24
Softball vs. Howard - 10:00 a.m. (Spartanburg, S.C.)
Men's tennis at Samford - 10:00 a.m.
Baseball vs. Kansas State - 11:00 a.m. (Myrtle Beach, S.C.)
Men's tennis vs. Jacksonville State - 2:00 p.m. (Birmingham, Ala.)
Women's basketball at LSU - 3:00 p.m.
Track and field at SEC Championships (Fayetteville, Ark.)
Rifle at GARC Championships (Oxford, Miss.)
The skinny: For most of the season, Matthew Mitchell's Kentucky Wildcats have been the ones making the comebacks. Four times this season, the Cats have rallied from second-half deficits of seven points or more and won.
On Monday night, No. 10 Texas A&M tried to flip the script. Trailing 60-46 after A'dia Mathies hit a jumper with 8:31 left, the home-standing Aggies mounted a furious rally looking to avenge a January loss in which the Cats came back from seven points down in the second half to win. They mounted a 10-0 run and closed to within 68-66 when Courtney Walker (20 points) scored inside while being fouled with less than five seconds left.
After an A&M timeout, Walker missed the ensuing free throw intentionally, but Bria Goss grabbed the loose ball and calmly drained a pair of free throws to ice a 70-66 victory and allow the eighth-ranked Cats to move to 23-3, 11-2 in Southeastern Conference play.
The difference: Taking care of the basketball. For the second time in as many games against Texas A&M, UK was outrebounded. In spite of the best efforts of DeNesha Stallworth and Samarie Walker - who combined for 23 rebounds - the Aggies held a 41-38 advantage on the glass. Additionally, Texas A&M outshot UK from the field - 47.4 percent to 40.6 percent.
The reason the Cats were able to survive all that was the way they took care of the ball. A&M committed just 18 turnovers - nearly seven fewer than the average for a UK opponent coming into Monday - but the Cats picked up an extra eight possessions by committing just 10 turnovers all night. For just the second time in conference play, UK had more assists (14) than turnovers.
Player of the game: Stallworth. Days ago, the California transfer had her worst game as a Wildcat. After a lackluster first half against South Carolina, Mitchell opted to play the talented junior just one minute in the second half of the comeback win. Her coach said afterward he wasn't trying to send a message and was just trying to win a basketball game, but Stallworth still responded in a big way.
She was one of three players to score in double figures for UK with 12 points, but that's not what made her performance so special. She had 12 rebounds, including six on the offensive end, and set a school record with seven blocks. Her defense was a big reason why Kelsey Bone - the SEC's leading scorer - managed just nine points on eight shots while committing seven turnovers.
Turning point: With the clock ticking under six minutes and the Aggie crowd very much into it, Texas A&M had the ball down just 60-56. With her team's confidence being put to the test, Mathies (13 points) came away with a steal and raced to the other end of the floor for a fast-break layup. Texas A&M wouldn't quit from there, but the play steadied UK's ship enough to propel the Cats to victory.
Key stat: Points off turnovers. The Cats may not have forced as many turnovers as they are used to, but they made the most of the ones they did. UK scored 29 points off 18 Aggie miscues for an average of 1.61 points per possession.
Unsung hero: Kastine Evans. The all-around performance by Stallworth and Mathies' late-game heroics will grab headlines, but Evans played a huge role in the Cats building a big lead, especially with Mathies limited to five first-half minutes by two early fouls. The junior guard played a team-high 35 minutes and scored 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting.
Since moving to the starting lineup at Arkansas, the always-steady Evans has taken her game to another level. Over her four games as starter, she's averaging 8.5 points on 56.5-percent shooting. Before then, she was averaging 3.7 points on 31.2-percent shooting.
They said what? "I thought that was a great basketball game. Two really good teams going at it, played well tonight. We were fortunate to win. We have a lot of respect for Texas A&M and their program. They are a very talented team."- Mitchell
"When you lose your best player and your senior leader, you're certainly concerned, but we had a lot of confidence in our team. And I think that goes to show you that we aren't really a one-player team. We have some really tough-minded players, and I just thought it was a beautiful first half of basketball by our team." - Mitchell on losing Mathies to first-half foul trouble
"Players have to make plays in this kind of game. This kind of game to me is more about players than it is about any coaching you can do. I'm just really impressed with our players tonight." - Mitchell
"We just tried to swarm her and tried to get as many defenders. She's big, and she had a good day against us in Lexington, so we wanted to push off the block as much as we can and tried to get some little guards for when she dribbled to try to swipe the ball out of her hands." - Mathies on UK's approach to guarding Bone
"I thought it was really important for me to step up, and I thought I did a good job. Without my teammates, I wouldn't have been able to do it because they never gave up and always believed in me." - Stallworth
What this one means: In short, a lot. Coming into Monday, UK trailed A&M by a half-game for second place in the SEC. The victory not only vaults the Cats into sole possession of second place behind Tennessee, but it also gives them a season sweep of the Aggies and therefore the tiebreaker for SEC Tournament seeding.
With just three games left in the season, UK needs only win its next two to set up a showdown with Tennessee on Senior Day to clinch a share of the SEC regular-season title, at minimum. Oh yeah, the victory is also UK's second over a top-10 team on the road, an achievement the Selection Committee surely won't overlook when seeding the NCAA Tournament.
With the rematch set for Monday, the Aggies still figure to have a little retribution on their mind. But neither team will be too focused on the past and that previous matchup. There's just too much to play for in the present.
"It's a big game," UK head coach Matthew Mitchell said succinctly.
For the Cats, their defense of their first Southeastern Conference title in three decades is still completely in their hands. For it to remain that way, the game with No. 10 Texas A&M (20-5, 10-1 SEC) on Monday (7 p.m. ET on ESPN2) is a must-win.
No. 8 UK (22-3, 10-2 SEC) currently sits in third place in the league standings, just a half-game behind A&M and a full game behind first-place Tennessee. A win on Big Monday in front of a national television audience would give UK sole possession of second place as well as another impossible-to-ignore resume-building win.
"It's two of the best teams in the country, two of the best teams certainly in our league and it'll be a tremendous matchup," Mitchell said.
The first time around, it was a struggle for the Cats on defense in the first half. The Aggies shot 58.6 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes before UK buckled down and held A&M to just 25 points on 32.3-percent shooting in the second half. Mitchell was happy with his team's effort throughout, but will be looking to channel it more effectively this time around, particularly against a frontcourt combination of Kelsey Bone and Kristi Bellock that combined for 43 points and 25 rebounds against the Cats in Memorial Coliseum.
"We'll have to learn from that game," Mitchell said. "I think it's probably important for us to figure out a little bit better way to defend them. They got a lot of easy buckets in that game although we won, and they didn't score a ton. I think we need to make them work harder to score."
Even after UK settled in on defense and got its transition game going to build a second-half lead, the Aggies - playing their first season as members of the SEC - hung around and actually had a chance to tie the game with a last-second 3-pointer that missed.
"I thought it was a very even game," Mitchell said. I don't think we're going to go in there and just smash them. I don't think it's that kind of game. We'll have to be prepared to play 40 minutes and you can't let them run off and hide from you."
Teams have tried all season to run off and hide from the Cats, but it's been no guarantee of victory. Four times this season, UK has faced second-half deficits or seven points or more and come back to win - including that first A&M game. The Cats have even done it twice on the road - at Louisville and at Arkansas - but they'd surely rather to get it done a little more traditionally on Monday.
"We will certainly go down there with the intention of winning and we'll prepare to win," Mitchell said. "I think this team will have a strong desire to win so it'll be a terrific game. They're a terrific team, well coached, and it should be a real test for us."