Kentucky Faces No. 24 Oklahoma in Second Round Monday in Memorial


LEXINGTON, Ky. – After one of the best defensive performances in a NCAA Tournament game in program history, the No. 12 University of Kentucky women’s basketball team looks for more of the same when it faces sixth-seeded and No. 24 Oklahoma in a second-round matchup on Monday at 6:30 p.m. ET inside Memorial Coliseum. 

Tickets are available online at ukhoopstix.com or by calling the UK Ticket Office (open Monday at 9 a.m. ET) at 800-928-2287. Tickets are $22 for adults, $15 for youths (ages 0-18) and seniors (65+). Every person, regardless of age, must have a ticket to enter the facility. All seating at Memorial Coliseum is reserved. Chairback seats are located on the west side (Sections A-J and AA-JJ). Bleacher seats are located on the east side (Sections R-Z and RR-ZZ). All seats in sections C-G rows 3-6 are chairbacks.

Individuals requiring special access (e.g., individuals who are disabled and/or need special seating) should contact the UK Ticket Office during regular business hours, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. ET on Monday. Tickets will be administered in accordance with ADA guidelines, based on availability. Tickets will not be refunded, exchanged or returned. 

Gameday Central

NCAA Tournament Second Round
#3 Kentucky vs. #6 Oklahoma
Monday, March 21 - 6:30 p.m. ET
Lexington, Ky. - Memorial Coliseum
Game Notes: UK | OU

Coverage

ESPN2
Radio: UK Sports Radio Network (630AM in Lexington)
Game Center (free audio, live stats)
Tournament Central
Twitter
Text Updates

The UK Ticket Office and general public will call will open at 4:30 p.m. ET on Monday and is located at the Euclid Avenue entrance of Memorial Coliseum. Player guest entrance will open at 5:30 p.m. ET on Monday and is located at the Rose Street entrance of Memorial Coliseum. 

The game will be televised regionally on ESPN2 with Cara Capuano and Carol Ross on the call. With several other NCAA Tournament second round games on at the same time, Kentucky will be a regional telecast available inside the states of Kentucky and Oklahoma and available on a whip around basis nationally. 

Complete information on Monday’s game, including tickets, parking, Memorial Coliseum FAQs and more, visit the tournament central site at www.ukathletics.com/page/w-basketball-ncaa-tournament

Kentucky is coming off an impressive performance against UNC Asheville on Saturday in the first round, taking down the Bulldogs 85-31. The performance was one of the best defensive performances for Kentucky in an NCAA Tournament game in program history, limiting UNCA to just 20.6% from the field and 12.0% from 3. Offensively, Kentucky shot 50% from the field and 50% from 3, marking the seventh time this season UK has hit 50% or more from the field. It is the first time in the Matthew Mitchell era that UK has hit 50% or more from the field seven times in the same season.

Junior guard Makayla Epps paced Kentucky in the game with a game-high 24 points, adding five assists, three rebounds and two steals. In four postseason games this season, Epps is averaging 19.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.3 steals. On the season, Epps is leading Kentucky with 16.8 points per game, adding 4.7 rebounds and sitting second on the team with 135 assists. 

Senior guard Janee Thompson had 13 points against UNCA and is averaging 12.6 points and had a team-best 148 assists this season. Junior forward Evelyn Akhator is averaging 11.6 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, while sophomore post Alexis Jennings is averaging 9.9 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. 

This is Kentucky’s seventh straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament with the Wildcats holding a 18-12 overall record in the event, including a 14-6 mark under Mitchell. Kentucky has hosted the first and second rounds of the event each of the last three seasons, holding a 5-2 record overall in NCAA Tournament games played in Lexington. 

Oklahoma enters Monday’s game with a 22-10 record, including an 11-3 mark at home, 7-5 mark in true road games and 4-2 record in neutral-site games. The Sooners are currently ranked in the top 25 of both the Associated Press and USA Today/Coaches Top 25. OU went 11-7 in Big 12 action this season. 

Oklahoma is led by senior forward Kaylon Williams, who is averaging 12.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game, hitting 53.9% from the field. Junior guard Peyton Little is averaging 10.9 points with 2.9 rebounds per game, while sophomore center Vionise Pierre-Louis has played in 32 games with zero starts but is averaging 9.4 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. 

As a team, the Sooners are scoring 70 points per game, allowing opponents to score 61.4 points per game. OU is hitting 41.8% from the field this season, including 31.6% from 3, while outrebounding opponents by 3.1 rebounds per game. OU put together an impressive performance against Purdue in the first round on Saturday, taking down the Boilermakers, 61-45.

Monday’s game marks the third all-time meeting between Kentucky and Oklahoma with the series tied 1-1. The Wildcats last faced the Sooners on Nov. 28, 2014 when they claimed a 92-88 overtime win over OU in the Virgin Islands. The first-ever meeting was on March 30, 2010 when the Sooners earned an 88-68 win over Kentucky to advance to the 2010 Final Four.

For more information on the Kentucky women’s basketball team, visit UKathletics.com or follow @UKHoopCats on Twitter and Instagram. 

Tickets may be purchased:
  • By calling the UK Athletics ticket office at 800-928-2287 or 859-257-1818
  • In-person at the Joe Craft Center Ticket Office, which opens Monday at 9 a.m. ET
  • Online at www.ukhoopstix.com.  
  • UK students may show their Wildcard Student ID at the Joe Craft Center ticket windows on Monday, March 21, beginning at 4:30 p.m. to receive a complimentary second round ticket paid for by UK Athletics. There will be a limited number of tickets and each student is permitted to pick up only one per round. 
2016 Lexington First and Second Round Schedule
Memorial Coliseum – Lexington, Ky.
First Round – March 19
(6) Oklahoma def. (11) Purdue 61-45
(3) Kentucky def. (14) UNC Asheville 85-31

Second Round – March 21
(6) Oklahoma vs. (3) Kentucky – 6:30 p.m. ET – ESPN2 (Winner to Lexington Regional semifinal)

Parking
  • Spectator parking is located in all of the E-lots surrounding Memorial Coliseum are off control 3 hours prior to tip. Additionally, the South Limestone Garage (PS#5) and the Rose Street Garage (PS#2) are available 2 hours prior to tip.  Please see the General Parking Map at ukathletics.com.
NCAA Parking
  • The Lexington Parking Authority Transit Center Parking Garage, located between High Street and Vine Street is available for parking 2 hours prior to tipoff through 3 hours after tipoff on Monday. Additionally, a free shuttle service will pick up in the LR Cooke Lot near the corner of High Street and Martin Luther King beginning 2 hours prior to tip.
  • Parking is prohibited in any R (Residential) lots.  Vehicles parking in Residential lots without a proper permit, along yellow curbs, grass spaces, or other non-specified and unapproved areas may be subject to ticket and/or tow.
  • Disabled spectator parking is available with a valid, state issues disabled hangtag in the E-Lot (Employee Lot) North of the Craft Center.  These spaces are available on a first-come, first-served basis until full.
Shuttle Information
  • Shuttles are available beginning 2 hours prior to tip off and pick up and drop off near the South Limestone Garage (Parking Structure # 5) (blue route) and near the Transit Center Parking Garage (green route).
  • Shuttles will start back up after halftime to return guests to their parking areas, the shuttle will discontinue service 1-hour post-game.
  • See the shuttle map and route information diagram at above link for pick up and drop off points.
Transit Garage Parking Instructions (Accessible from Vine Street or High Street)
NCAA Women’s Basketball Fans – avoid traffic and congestion around Memorial Coliseum and park for FREE at the Transit Center Garage!

How do I enter the garage?
  • Push green flashing button
  • Take yellow token, do not lose this token.
  • Enter garage
  • See the Event Staff Member at the entrance of the garage near Lexington Avenue and High Street for a free parking voucher to use to exit the structure. Staff will remain on site until 20 minutes after tip-off
Please do not lose your token! If you lose your token, you will be charged an $8 lost token fee. If you lose your token, visit the Pay on Foot station located in the 7th floor elevator lobby of the garage and choose “lost token.” You will be charged $8.00 and given a new token that can be used to exit the garage.

How do I exit the garage?
  • Take your yellow token to any exit gate and put it into the flashing slot.
  • Scan your free parking coupon on the bar code reader.
  • You are free to exit!
For more information on the Kentucky women’s basketball team, visit UKathletics.com or follow @UKHoopCats on Twitter and Instagram, or Kentucky Women’s Basketball on Facebook.

NEWS CONFERENCE QUOTES – Kentucky

Matthew Mitchell, Kentucky Head Coach:

On the challenges presented by Oklahoma’s interior defense …
“Well the two kids, 42 (Kaylon Williams) and 0 (Vionise Pierre-Louis), have great size and great length and they’re very top-level players. They will create a real challenge. What you have to do when you’re going against players of that caliber is you have to rely on your strengths. And we have some depth at the post position and they have all worked very hard on their skillset on offense and so you just can never get face to face or chest to chest with shot blockers. You have to concentrate and use angles and use your fundamentals and be really sharp. You have to be really sharp against shot blockers and smart. Our post players have developed so well this season and have made such great progress and this will be another fantastic opportunity for them to measure themselves and see how much progress they truly have made, because those kids are very good players.”

On whether they can grow from last year’s second-round loss …
“You know, we have had really difficult second-round games over the last six tournaments. Really the only one that hasn’t been was our very first one that went to in 2010. We had a really close 4-13 matchup with Liberty that we almost lost and then we really had a big margin of victory over Michigan State two days later. But then since then second round has been really difficult games. Got beat by—we were a 4 and North Carolina was a 5. I think we won by one in a 2-7 versus Green Bay out in Ames. The margin of victory was double digits against Dayton the next year, but it was a real, real tough game. And Syracuse was a tough 3-6 here at home three years ago. And then Dayton, 2-7 last year and it was a really tough game. So we’ve never breezed through to the Sweet 16. It’s always been a battle and so in mind I’ve been a part of all those so I understand how good Oklahoma is and so this is not going to be some shock if Oklahoma wins the game. It’s not going to be some huge upset. It’s going to be a really, really tough game and difficult game so I’m not preparing them for a letdown. We’re preparing for an absolute battle and fight to the finish in order to earn your way into the Sweet 16. So it’s not trouble here trying to guard against a letdown because Oklahoma is a top-level, top-25 perennial tournament team that has great history and their coach is absolutely one of the best in the country. So I’m not really worried about guarding against a letdown right now. I’m trying to get them ready to beat a very good team.”

On areas for improvement …
“I think for us it’s all about our defense. I think when we went back and looked at the game yesterday, we had so many physical advantages over Asheville where we did not pay for some of our mistakes that we will pay for tomorrow if we make the same mistakes. So it’s all about trying to sharpen our defense. I’m sure the Oklahoma coach has watched the game and I’m sure they’re thinking the same thing, is where they can attack us. And it’s really about our positioning. We still, as an inexperienced team, don’t always understand what position we should be in and we have to play defense as a team. And so today’s practice will be what every practice has been about, is trying to find some improvement and that’ll be sharpening our defensive positioning the best that we can because Oklahoma does an outstanding job of spacing the floor to create matchup problems and to really allow their two outstanding post players to make plays in the lane. They do a great job of spacing, cutting, moving and so it will be a tall task for us and so our job today is just exactly what the players just told you: We have to do what Kentucky does well and we have to focus on our strengths and then we have to try to sharpen—to answer your question I’d like to try to sharpen our defensive positioning so we can play as tough of team defense as we can play tomorrow.”

On his message to younger players …
“Well we said before the tournament started, everybody has dreams and aspirations and that’s a good thing. Everybody wants to get to the Final Four, everybody in the tournament. And there’s a few of us in the tournament that believe we can win the tournament and win the national championship. And so those thoughts are in everyone’s head and those dreams are in everyone’s head and that’s a good thing, but just as all of us want to be successful in life and accomplish great things you can’t get focused on the end. You have to go about your daily routine of doing the tough, little detailed things and taking no shortcuts. We just tried to get that out there, that we all understand what we’re trying to do here and what we want to do. And there’s so much talk about us playing in Rupp Arena next weekend. That’s just there. In today’s day and age, you can’t run from that. It’s just there. It’s on their phone all the time. It’s in front of them all the time, so it’s not something that you can ignore and act like you can shield them from it. But what we’ve just tried to do is turn it into a life lesson. For you to be successful and for us to reach our dreams and goals and accomplish what we want to accomplish, we have to stay firmly planted in the present and do what we can control, work on that. So that’s today’s practice. I’m not talking to the younger players about the enormity of the moment or how big this win would be. We’re just going to go in there and really try to get better on defense today and I thought our young players had some really great moments yesterday and I’m sure they had some nerves that they dealt with and they had some difficulties yesterday. So we’re still just trying to coach and we’re trying to get ready for another really important game. We’ve had a bunch of those this year and so that’s how we’re trying to approach it, is that none of the big things that we want to happen will happen unless we take of what’s right in front of us. And that’s today’s practice, is all we’re really focused on right now.”

On Coach Coale saying her team didn’t match up at any position with Kentucky...
“They have a huge advantage in coaching; let me say that first of all. Coach Coale is absolutely one of the best and as you saw her wear Kentucky blue yesterday she is a very smart coach and so they have a big advantage when it comes to coaching. I will not agree with her that they don’t have any advantages in this game. They are an outstanding team and really all jokes aside, when we played them in 2010, she made an adjustment in that game that I didn’t figure out until about a month later that’s how good she was and is. She is such a great coach. We have tried to emulate the way they present Oklahoma basketball. It’s something I have tremendous respect for and that we have tried to emulate. Their players play so hard, they sprint on and off the court, the bench goes out to meet them, things that we try to do and that all goes back from me observing Oklahoma. I’m sure she’s planning for victory tomorrow and we are going to work really hard to make sure we win but I will disagree with her that she doesn’t have any good matchups in this game.”

On how much pace will play at part in tomorrow’s game...
“That’s how we designed the team. We try to be different than a lot of teams where we have some depth and we do try to push the pace. The pace we want, we tried to demonstrate yesterday and we tried to run the floor. That’s one of our strengths. That’s one of the things that we talk about. We have to hone in on that and try to get that done tomorrow so we need it to be a good day for us running the floor. Even if we don’t execute, just trying to put pressure on Oklahoma as they’ll try to put pressure on us in certain ways. I think for us, if we played a half-court game with them, a half-court game of make-it-take-it and you get it at the top and check it up every time, that would be to their advantage. I think they are great half-court team and they are so well-coached and they make great decisions. What we have to try to do is we have to make it a full-court game where maybe we can use some of our advantages in the game and earn a victory. We would like an up-tempo game.”

On his team’s physical strength and conditioning...
“We created this program, one out of desperation because we didn’t have a lot of momentum going and we had to create that momentum. It was with fast and athletic players. We tried to tap into what we had potential to develop. Then, once we saw we were going to be successful, we said there are certain things we are going to have to do. That became fun to try and see how far we could push ourselves and then I thought it became something that could help the players after they leave. That discipline of trying to be in the absolute tip-top fitness, preparation and something you really have to go out and earn. Our players get up at 5:30 a.m. four days a week in the summer. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday our players are up at 5:30 in the morning for a 6 a.m. workout. It is taxing and it is tough and we hope that it instills toughness in our team. John Spurlock and Stephanie Tracey-Simmons, who was our strength coach that started this here, both of those people have been tremendously integral in our success and they invested a lot of themselves in the program and our players benefit from it. It’s something that we emphasize and something that we work on, not something I just push off to the side and say ‘this is something we have to do.’ They are a part of our staff and we have discussions, a plan and a way we go about it. I’m proud of how hard our players have worked over the last nine years. It’s been tough on them but we’ve gotten good results from it.”

On the challenge of coaching against Sherri Coale...
“It’s a great challenge and I think this is a good time to mention our coaching staff. Our three coaches have done an incredible job this year. They’ve worked so hard individually with their position groups and with their players, with the team in preparation, in scouting and recruiting. They deserve a tremendous amount of credit to our success up to this point this year. I’m really appreciative of our coaching staff and how hard they’ve worked. So, we are back there talking about a couple of things and I made a point to them. I said ‘Sherrie Coale makes as good of in-game adjustments of anybody I’ve ever competed against.’ I’ve had the misfortune of playing against her twice now and I’m glad it’s only twice. I hope I don’t have to play against her again for a long time. But she knows how to make adjustments in the game so the challenge is great just trying to match wits with her. It will really stretch us as coaches and it’s a great challenge. It will definitely make you prepare, work hard and try to consider everything. Having said that, what I told our coaches is we have to stay focused on Kentucky, we have to stay focused on what we do well. We cannot try to do too much between today and tomorrow. We’ve got to see if we can give our players information that can help them but we can’t bog them down with a big game plan and change a whole bunch right now.”

Janee Thompson, Kentucky Point Guard:

On learning from last year’s loss in the second round…
“In a way we can. Our position coach (Camryn Whitaker) was on that team (Dayton) last year that beat us. She basically explained to us a few times that she doesn’t want to see that happen. So, in a way we can use that, but at the same time, we’re a completely different team and that was an entire different year. So we’ve just got to focus on the things that got us here and get ready to prepare for a good Oklahoma team.”

On what the team did after last night’s win…
“We were happy about the win, but we’re extremely focused and locked in on Oklahoma at this point.”

On their impression of Oklahoma and what they saw on Saturday…
“I didn’t watch any of their game yesterday. I was pretty much just trying to get focused on UNC Asheville and make sure my mind was set on that because we had a game to win before we could move on.”

Makayla Epps, Kentucky Guard:

On what the team did after last night’s win…
“Last night, we went and got ice cream. But it’s still all business. You’ve just got to cover your sweet tooth up a little bit.”

On their impression of Oklahoma and what they saw on Saturday…
“I actually watched basically the whole game. I was out there when the game tipped off. The thing about me and Janee, we actually got a shot at Oklahoma last year, so we know some of their players and what they’re about. They are a really good team, you’ve got to give them credit, and we’ve got a lot of respect for them.”

On the challenges that Oklahoma presents…
“We’ve just got to focus on Kentucky. We’ve got to keep doing what Kentucky does best. Pushing the pace, personalizing communication on defense, just everything we work on every day in practice. We’ve got to transfer that to the court. When that happens for us, we’re a really good ball club and we’ve done some really good things.”