No. 16 Kentucky Starts Homestand Against Arkansas Sunday

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Looking to continue its winning ways currently riding a three-game winning streak, including an impressive 83-60 victory at highly ranked Mississippi State on Thursday, the No. 16 University of Kentucky women’s basketball team starts a two-game homestand on Sunday against Arkansas at 3 p.m. ET inside Memorial Coliseum.  

The game will be televised nationally on SEC Network with Courtney Lyle and former Georgia coach Andy Landers calling the action. The game can also be seen through WatchESPN on computers, smartphones or tablets. Now in his 11th season, Neil Price will have the call on the UK Sports Network. Fans in Lexington can hear Price’s call on 630AM. Live stats and free audio will be available online at ukathletics.com. 

Gameday Central

#16 Kentucky vs. Arkansas
Sunday, Feb. 21 - 3 p.m. ET
Lexington, Ky. - Memorial Coliseum
Game Notes: UK | ARK

Coverage

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

UK alumnae and the first female commissioner of the Kentucky High School Athletics Association, Brigid DeVries will be honored with the 2016 Sue Feamster Trailblazer Award during the game. The award, given to those who have provided exceptional leadership and paved the way for others to succeed, will be presented by former UK coach Sue Feamster, who received the inaugural award in 2008.

Sunday’s game vs. Arkansas is also UK’s annual Play 4 Kay Pink Game. The Kay Yow Cancer Fund is committed to being a part of finding an answer in the fight against women’s cancers through raising money for scientific research and related projects, assisting the undeserved and unifying people for a common cure.

A limited number of reserved tickets remain for $9 for all ages, while general admission single-game tickets are sold out for Sunday’s game. UK students, faculty and staff are admitted free with valid identification. Tickets are available online at ukhoopstix.com, while parking and other information is available at ukathleticsgameday.com/hoops. 

Kentucky is coming off a dominating victory over Mississippi State on Thursday, earning its third straight double-digit victory in league play. The Wildcats secured an 83-60 win over the Bulldogs behind outrebounding MSU, 49-34, and committing single-digit turnovers for the first time this season. UK shot 44.8% from the field in the game, limiting MSU to just 35.4%, including 29.4% from 3. Freshman guard Maci Morris led Kentucky with a career-high tying 17 points, while junior guard Makayla Epps had 16 points, eight rebounds and five assist. 

During Kentucky’s recent three-game winning streak, the Wildcats are shooting 47.8% from the floor, including 40% from 3, scoring 74.7 points per game. In the three games, Kentucky is averaging 15.3 assists per game, only turning the ball over 11.3 times per game and forcing opponents into 16.3 miscues per game. 

The win over Mississippi State was Kentucky’s fourth win over a ranked foe this season and seventh win over a team either ranked or receiving votes in the national rankings at the time UK played them. The Wildcats will conclude regular-season play against tough competition, facing an Arkansas team Sunday with three wins over ranked foes, before Missouri, who is receiving votes in both rankings, next Thursday. The regular season finale will be at No. 12/12 Texas A&M. 

Arkansas enters the week with an 11-15 record, including a 6-7 mark in league play. The Razorbacks are 1-8 on the road this season, including a 1-5 mark away from home in SEC play. Arkansas has played a difficult conference schedule with seven games against ranked foes. The Razorbacks have won three of those games with victories over then-No. 13/10 Texas A&M, then-No. 13/15 Tennessee and then-No. 24 Missouri.

Arkansas is coming off a home win over Alabama on Thursday, taking down the Crimson Tide, 69-67. Jessica Jackson led Arkansas with 20 points, adding eight rebounds, while Jordan Danberry hit the game-winning shot and had 12 points with 10 assists. The Razorbacks had 19 turnovers, but forced Alabama into 22 miscues.

Jackson leads the way for Arkansas with 16.6 points per game, including 6.6 rebounds per game and a team-high 29 blocks. Devin Cosper is averaging 8.5 points per game with 40 assists, while Danberry leads the team with 61 assists averaging 6.8 points per game. 

Sunday’s meeting between Kentucky and Arkansas is the 32nd all-time between the two schools in women’s basketball. Kentucky leads the all-time series, 19-13, including a 12-3 mark in games played in Lexington, Kentucky. 

Kentucky has won five straight meetings between the two teams, including the lone meeting last year in Fayetteville, when UK claimed a 56-51 victory. The Wildcats have won seven straight home games against the Razorbacks dating back to the 2005 season, including four of those seven games by double-digits. Matthew Mitchell is 9-1 in his tenure at Kentucky against Arkansas.

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.

Spectator parking is located in the following areas:
  • All E-lots surrounding Memorial Coliseum are off control beginning 3 hours prior to tip.  This includes the College of Education E-lots, located off Scott Street.
  • The South Limestone Garage (PS#5, adjacent to Kennedy's Bookstore) and the Rose Street Garage (PS#2) are available 2 hours prior to tip-off. 
  • Lexington Authority Transit Center Parking Garage is available after 5 p.m. ET on weekdays and all day on weekends.
  • When parking in the Transit Center, pull a yellow token from the dispenser and keep in your vehicle.  See the event staff attendant at the entrance near Lexington Avenue/High Street to receive a free parking voucher before the game.  When exiting the garage after the game, place your yellow token in the machine, then scan the barcode on your free parking voucher to exit.
  • Disabled parking is available in the E-Lot (Employee Lot) north of the Joe Craft Center, adjacent to the metered spaces running along the front of the Craft Center with a valid, state issued disabled hang tag.  These spaces are limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis until full.
Please note: parking is prohibited in any R-lots (Residential). Vehicles parked 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.

Shuttle Information:
  • Free shuttle services are available beginning 2 hours prior to tip off from the South Limestone Garage located off Limestone and Upper Street and the Transit Center Parking Garage located off High Street and Vine Street.
  • 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 3rd floor of the parking garage.  The pickup/drop off point near Memorial Coliseum is at the Euclid entrance.  
  • 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. 
  • Shuttles will start back up at halftime and continue until 1 hour post-game to return guests to their parking areas.
Game day Information:
  • Doors to Memorial Coliseum will open one (1) hour prior to tip-off.
  • UK Athletics encourages women's basketball fans to arrive early to ease traffic and parking congestion around the Coliseum.
  • Surface lots (i.e. Joe Craft Center North, Rose Street lot and the Alumni Center lot) reach capacity approximately 1.5 hours prior to tip-off, at which point vehicles should proceed directly to the South Limestone Garage (PS#5), Rose Street Garage (PS#2), the E-lots near the College of Education or the Lexington Authority Transit Center Parking Garage near High Street and Lexington Avenue.
For more information on parking around Memorial Coliseum and other game-day questions visit ukathleticsgameday.com/hoops.

Head Coach Matthew Mitchell Pre-Arkansas News Conference 


Opening statement…
“First of all, Sunday is a special day. Coach Kay Yow did so much for women’s basketball and did so much for breast cancer awareness and the Kay Yow Fund is raising millions of dollars to fight breast cancer and to make us all aware of that. I knew Coach Yow and she had a profound impact on my career and my life, as she has so many people. We would love for people to come out Sunday. We already have a huge crowd with a lot of tickets sold. There are a few left and we would love to have a sell out and if you would feel moved to donate to the Kay Yow Fund, I would be extremely grateful and appreciative to that. 

Also, we are going to be giving out the Sue Feamster Trailblazer Award. Coach Feamster was our first coach here at UK and paved the way for all of us who followed her and got this program off the ground. We give an award every year for someone who has helped advance women in athletics and this year the very first female commissioner of the KHSAA, Brigid DeVries, will be honored and we are very happy about that. Brigid has meant so much to so many people here in the Commonwealth. So we are excited to celebrate those two things on Sunday and wanted to mention that before we shift our focus to Arkansas.

Arkansas is a very tough team and has had some great victories in the conference this year. They are tough defensively and cause a lot of problems with how hard they play and they have one of the best players in the league. So it will be a real challenge for us. We will go back to work today and see if we can continue our improvement on the defensive end and see if we can stay in a posture of hustle. That is really what this team needs to be all about on the offensive and defensive end, is to really outhustle their opponent every chance we get. So tall task for us on Sunday, but we are excited to start our preparations for Arkansas.”

On how he makes sure the team doesn’t have a letdown performance Sunday …
“Well, I think some of those experiences have gotten through to the team. We have had some real disappointments in the conference and I think that all of those – I really believe – that they have sharpened us and shaped us and developed us. I choose to really trust these players right now and that they understand what our formula is now. It really is a great thing to see because we got to a certain point in this program playing with a lot of heart and a lot of determination and a lot of grit. I just felt like over time sometimes people walk into that situation and they don’t have to earn that, that that is just the way it is. I feel like this team, were we have been humbled it has been good to us, because now they understand that we are not just showing up because you are at Kentucky and winning. This particular team has to do it for themselves and go out and earn it. It has been hard. I don’t know that anybody was feeling really good about where we were at 4-6, but to their credit they just kept working and have been working. They are hard workers and we are not perfect, but they are a really good group of young women and have demonstrated some high character. I can’t tell you what is going to happen on Sunday, but we are going to try like heck to make them understand why we have been successful and what we are going to need to do on Sunday. It is not a real different set of circumstances than Thursday night. It is a different opponent, but very similar. They are tough and will drive you and have a dynamic playmaker. We just need to stick with our formula of being really tough.”

On the performance of the freshmen last night …
“It was a lot of fun to watch them and there was a reason why they were making plays. They were reading the situations and following the preparation that they put in and that was fun to watch. They all had success and it was not an accident. They really worked hard. All three of them stay on the floor every day. I am looking out there now and they are out there now before practice, and nobody is telling them to do that. They are three hardworking players that have all had some difficulties to work through and they still have a lot of room to grow and they will. It was fun to watch them last night, they really did a good job.”

On Maci Morris being more than just a shooter …
“No, I saw her as being a complete basketball player. She was a lot of fun to watch and I knew we were getting much more than a shooter. Sometimes when you just drive by a situation and get a glimpse of it, you seem to take a snapshot of something and make that the full picture and that is really not what you saw if you watched Maci over and over. And we had the benefit of time watching her in a lot of different situations. She is a heck of a basketball player that is only going to get better because her mind is strong and her work ethic is strong and she is going to get more explosive and faster and stronger. That is just what we have had success developing players. But we wanted her to drive the ball last night and we wanted six or more paint points for her last night in trying to get her mindset on trying to get into the paint because we thought she could drive those players at Mississippi State and she did a fantastic job of that.”

On if he had any concerns on if she would be able to get through a long season …
“Well, we were thinking all of those freshmen were going to have veterans in front of them and we were going to be able to bring them along and they weren’t going to have to play the volume of minutes, but it’s been a blessing for them because they have got great experience. I think they have learned a lot through the struggle of the season and last night it looked like maybe them coming out on the other side of the storm because they really played some good ball last night, all three of them. But you always have concerns about freshmen and the length they can play. A lot of kids are in the state tournament right now and it’s over. And we have hopefully another month of playing. So you do concern yourself on trying to prepare for that and encourage them and keep their spirits high. But I tell you, I think that is why it is so important for us to try to recruit high character players and all three of those are great examples of the kind of people we are trying to get in this program and keep in this program. They are doing a good job right now and last night probably gives them a little boost of confidence right here. As far as the long season goes, I think the middle part of it is the toughest because you don’t really see the light at the end of the tunnel. I think now, you can kind of see the end point and the tournament is here and you get excited about those things. I feel good about where everybody is right now physically and mentally and we need to try to work hard and get another victory on Sunday.” 

On last night’s win for confidence …
“Big, last night was a huge win just for so many reasons. You jump up in the RPI. You get a road win against a top-25 RPI team at the time. You score a bunch of points. You play good defense. You follow the scouting report and it all falls into place. It just does a lot for your confidence and last night was a huge win on so many fronts. I am just so proud of them because they worked so hard to earn it. They really worked hard to get that victory.”