No. 11 Kentucky Ready for Noon Tip vs. Eastern Michigan

LEXINGTON, Ky. – In the middle of a four-game home stretch, the No. 11/12 University of Kentucky women’s basketball team looks to continue its strong start to the season when it plays host to the Eastern Michigan Eagles on Wednesday at Noon ET inside Memorial Coliseum. 

“Well we have a real challenge tomorrow. We will have to switch gears defensively from our game on Sunday,” UK head coach Matthew Mitchell said. “Colorado ran the triangle offense and you could identify where they wanted to enter the ball and we were able to take them out of some of their actions by disrupting their entries and Eastern Michigan is a very different team than that. They are mainly a transition offense team with dribble-drive attack. They will play four guards, one post and it will be a very, very different challenge for us. With only a couple of days to get ready for them, it has been a challenge. So we will have to get really locked in and committed and playing together and communicate at a higher level than we did on Sunday, particular in the second half. I thought in the second half on Sunday we really took our foot off the gas defensively after watching it. We will try to fight for some defensive improvement today in practice and try to prepare well for what is a very tough challenge tomorrow with a good Eastern Michigan team.” 

Gameday Central
Eastern Michigan at Kentucky
Wednesday, Nov. 25 - Noon ET
Lexington, Ky. - Memorial Coliseum
Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader | Eastern Michigan Get Acrobat Reader
Coverage

TV: SEC Network+
Radio: UK Sports Radio Network (630AM WLAP in Lexington)
Game Center (free audio, live stats)
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UK Athletics will be running a special $1 Day at Memorial Coliseum on Wednesday as fans can receive $1 general admission tickets to the game while select concession items will be priced at $1 as well. The promotion is part of a doubleheader Wednesday at Memorial as the UK volleyball team faces Georgia at 7 p.m. ET following the women’s basketball game. 

Single-game reserved tickets are $9 for all ages.  Children age five-and-under are admitted free in the general admission seating area, and UK students, faculty and staff are admitted free with valid identification.

The game will be live streamed on the SEC Network+ with Jeff Piecoro and Christi Thomas calling the action. SEC Network+ is available through WatchESPN. The game can also be heard live on the UK Sports Radio Network with Neil Price calling the action for the 11th consecutive season. Fans in Lexington can hear Price’s call on 630AM WLAP. 

Due to the early game time and regular University functions, all surrounding parking lots will not be available for non UK permit holders. Fans are encouraged to arrive early and park at the Transit Center, Parking Structure #5 (also known as the South Limestone Garage) or the UK Soccer/Softball Complex. Free shuttles will run from each location and more detailed information is available online at www.ukathleticsgameday.com/hoops along with answers to many other game-day questions for fans. 

Kentucky (4-0) enters the game ranked No. 11 in the latest USA Today/Coaches Top 25 and No. 12 in the Associated Press Top 15. The Wildcats have now been ranked for 117 consecutive weeks, marking the longest ranking stretch in program history. 

UK won both of its games last week, taking down in-state foe Morehead State and Colorado. The Wildcats performed well on both sides of the floor, scoring 112 points against the Eagles and 86 against the Buffaloes. Against Colorado, UK had five players score in double figures, including senior guard Janee Thompson, who paced UK with 17 points and seven assists. 

Defensively, Kentucky has been strong this season, limiting opponents to 32.8% from the field and 27.9% from 3-point land. UK is forcing 22.5 turnovers a game and is outrebounding opponents by eight rebounds per game.  

Junior guard Makayla Epps leads the team in scoring averaging 16 points per game, while sophomore post player Alexis Jennings is averaging 14 and Thompson is averaging 13.3. Junior college transfer Evelyn Akhator and freshman guard Taylor Murray are also averaging double figure scoring this season. Akhator leads UK with 13.0 rebounds per game. 

Eastern Michigan enters the contest with an undefeated record at 2-0, posting a 94-77 win over Hillsdale College and a 78-56 victory against Texas Rio Grande Valley. The Eagles are coming off one of the most successful seasons in school history with a 24-13 overall mark, tying the EMU wins record and appearing in the Sweet 16 of the WNIT.  EMU earned a bid to the WNIT with a MAC Championship appearance, becoming the first sixth seed to advance to the title game.  
EMU returns five starters from a season ago, and they are just one of 25 programs to boast a full returning lineup.  

Junior Cha Sweeney leads the team with 21.5 points per game, connecting on 35.7% of her 3-point attempts.  Janay Morton has posted 17.5 ppg and five steals per game, while Phillis Webb has 12.0 ppg.  Eastern is shooting .439 from behind the arc, led by Sera Ozelci’s six triples at a .545 clip. In their last outing, the Eagles forced UTRGV into 17 turnovers while holding the Vaqueros to no field goals for over 14 minutes in the second half.  Overall, UTRGV shot just 28.6% from the floor.

Wednesday marks the second-ever meeting between Kentucky and Eastern Michigan. Matthew Mitchell has faced Eastern Michigan once in his career, falling to the Eagles while coaching at Morehead State. The lone meeting between UK and EMU occurred on March 18, 2005 when Kentucky took down the Eagles 79-68 in Memorial Coliseum.

For more information on the Kentucky women’s basketball team, follow @UKHoopCats on Twitter and Instagram, or like Kentucky Women’s Basketball on Facebook. 

Due to the early game time and regular University functions, all surrounding parking lots will NOT be available unless you have a valid UK Parking pass. 

Special Parking Information for Wednesday, Nov. 25
  • All fans and media without a valid UK parking pass are encouraged to park at the UK Soccer & Softball Complex, the Transit Center, or Parking Structure 5 (also known as the South Limestone Garage) which will have very limited space available.  A free shuttle service will be available from the UK Soccer & Softball Complex, the Transit Center and Parking Structure 5 beginning at 10 a.m. ET and running until 30 minutes into the game. The shuttles will resume after halftime and will run until one hour postgame. 
  • Guests who park in Parking Structure 5 are asked to bring their white parking voucher pulled from the dispenser upon entry, and exchange it for a pink voucher at any entrance to Memorial Coliseum. The pink voucher will allow you to exit free of charge.  Vouchers will be available at all Memorial Coliseum entrances. The Parking Structure 5 shuttle (blue route) picks up/drops off on Administration Drive, at the end of the pedestrian sky bridge accessed from the third floor of the parking garage.  The pickup/drop off point near Memorial Coliseum is at the Euclid entrance.  
  • Guests who park in the Transit Center Garage will receive a token upon entry.  After parking, spectators must see the UK Athletics Event Staff member at the entrance of the garage near Lexington Avenue and High Street to obtain a parking voucher to exit the structure free of charge. Transit Center Parking Garage (green route) picks up/drops off near the corner of High Street and Martin Luther King.  The pickup/drop off point near Memorial Coliseum is near the Ticket Office at the Lexington Avenue entrance. 
  • Guests who park at the Soccer/Softball complex will not need a permit or pass for entry.  The free shuttle will pickup in the upper paved lot at the complex; the pickup/drop off point near Memorial Coliseum is at the Euclid entrance.  


Game day Information

  • Doors to Memorial Coliseum will open one hour prior to tipoff.
  • UK Athletics encourages women's basketball fans to arrive early to ease traffic and parking congestion around the Coliseum.
For more information on parking around Memorial Coliseum and other game-day questions visit ukathleticsgameday.com/hoops

Head Coach Matthew Mitchell Pre-Eastern Michigan News Conference


Opening statement …
“Well we have a real challenge tomorrow. We will have to switch gears defensively from our game on Sunday. Colorado ran the triangle offense and you could identify where they wanted to enter the ball and we were able to take them out of some of their actions by disrupting their entries and Eastern Michigan is a very different team than that. They are mainly a transition offense team with dribble-drive attack. They will play four guards, one post and it will be a very, very different challenge for us. With only a couple of days to get ready for them, it has been a challenge. So we will have to get really locked in and committed and playing together and communicate at a higher level than we did on Sunday, particular in the second half. I thought in the second half on Sunday we really took our foot off the gas defensively after watching it. We will try to fight for some defensive improvement today in practice and try to prepare well for what is a very tough challenge tomorrow with a good Eastern Michigan team.” 

On practicing more on defense than offense this week …
“Well, we tried to mix it yesterday, we played Sunday, so our first practice was yesterday and we tried to go half and half yesterday. I thought our defensive intensity waned and wasn’t as good as the efficiency was on offense. I thought we really let up defensively when the margin swelled there in the second half. We will never be the team that we want to be if we let up defensively. So we tried to work on just some fundamental defensive principles yesterday. We are not guarding the ball that great, we are getting beat on dribble penetration. We worked hard on that yesterday and just our overall intensity level. I think we are still just a work in progress. We have to fight for improvement every single day and so far they have done that well. I think just trying to keep it well balanced and making sure we pay enough attention to defense and offense will be a key for us. We are trying to balance those practices out as much as possible.” 

On Batouly Camara and Alexis Jennings getting in foul trouble and how to combat that … 
“They are both products of they don’t move their feet enough on defense. Alexis really has been slow reacting on defense and rebounding and she and I have talked about that. As gifted as she is offensively, she just moves and is much more decisive on the offensive end than she is the defensive end. She is not moving her feet and gets caught flat footed and Batouly does too. Batouly made some really good progress last week and she is getting better. Her and Alexis are both aware that it is moving their feet earlier and both of them are deep thinkers and process a lot instead of quick reaction. Sometimes the ball will be somewhere and instead of moving on the pass they wait until the pass is completed. Well, the offense has already sealed you or ducked in. When the ball is in the air between the passer and the receiver that is your time to move your feet and get in a position to guard the next action. They are just not doing that at a high enough level. Both of them move really well and are showing all of us some good footwork on offense and being decisive and quick with their feet and they will do the same on defense. It just has to be a priority and I think we will see improvement if we can get that done.” 

On wanting to see fire in player’s feet on defense …
“Yeah, energy in your feet and making sure you are ready to pressure the ball. You can’t get flat footed and do a good job on defense at Kentucky. We need to be really active with our feet – fire in our feet, energy in our feet – all those action words that we use to get them going. Then you have a little spring in your step and you are moving and not going from a flat footed static position, you are always in a state of motion where you can make the move to the next action. Active feet is very important for all of our defenders.” 

On having a four-game non-conference home stand and how much do you focus in on just getting better at what you need to get better at …
“Well, you are trying to win now but also trying to build. There is a tension there. Listen, Eastern Michigan is picked second in the MAC. That is a quality, quality league. They are a tough team and their point guard is lightening quick. We certainly knew that Colorado could challenge us and we certainly know that Eastern Michigan can challenge us. We are just not that team that we have been in the past where we could just come at you with waves of people and it just didn’t matter if we got in foul trouble, we would just keep coming at you and keep coming at you. I told this team yesterday, we have to do it right all the time to be the team we want to be, alright? From that standpoint, it is all about us. We need to worry about where we need to be, what we need to be doing and how we take the opponent out of their game. But you have to respond to the different challenges and that is what makes a great non-conference schedule is if you can get some of these different styles of play. This is a great physical challenge because they are quick and athletic and going to play four guards, which is unusual for this particular team because they haven’t seen that. So it is a great physical challenge and mental challenge to switch gears because the defensive gameplan really took Colorado out of their game early and we got a sizeable lead and they just couldn’t dig out of that hole before they could adjust to it. This game could be different because they are not setting really anything up. It is four people out and the five really kind of steps out and roams the baseline. It is all about communication. We will have a post player guarding some guard-like person. So it is a really big challenge to turn around and go complete different style on Sunday to a different style really early on a Wednesday with a noon tip. So we just don’t have a lot of preparation time so you have to respect your opponent at this time of the year and also try to build for the conference season. You are kind of as a coach juggling those things simultaneously.”