No. 9 Kentucky Set for Rematch with Auburn on Alumnae Day
LEXINGTON, Ky. – After suffering the first home loss of the season to No. 2/2 South Carolina on Thursday, the Kentucky women’s basketball team has the chance to get back in the win column Sunday afternoon in its second matchup against Auburn at 1 p.m. ET inside Memorial Coliseum. Additionally, Sunday’s game will be UK’s annual “Alumnae Day,” as over 20 former Wildcats and their families will return to campus.
Single-game reserved tickets are $9 for all ages, while adult general admission single-game tickets are $8. For those aged 6-18 or 65-and-over, general admission costs are $5 per ticket. Children age 5-and-undetr 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 broadcast on the SEC Network with Cara Capuano on play-by-play and Nell Fortner serving as the color analyst. The game can also be seen through WatchESPN on computers, smartphones and tables. For the 11th consecutive season Neil Price will have the call on the UK Sports Network. Fans in Lexington can hear Price’s call on 630AM ELAP. Live stats and free audio will be available online at ukathletics.com.
The Wildcats hold a 13-2 record, including 2-2 in Southeastern Conference play going into the weekend. Kentucky’s only two losses this season have been Thursday’s 73-62 setback to highly ranked USC, as well as a 66-61 loss at Auburn on Jan. 3.
“Well, a tough game versus Auburn on Sunday. They really took it to us a few weeks back. They outhustled us and outplayed us and played tougher than we did,” UK head coach Matthew Mitchell said at his weekly news conference on Friday. “Great opportunity for us to see if we can correct that and we play harder and tougher and find a way to get a victory. But I have to believe that they are highly motivated and very confident after they took it to us the way they did down in Auburn. So we are looking for a real, real tough game and we will have to practice hard over the next few days to get ready for a very tough Auburn team.”
Sunday’s meeting will be the 46th meeting between Kentucky and Auburn in the history of the two programs. Auburn holds the lead in the all-time series, 26-19, but the Wildcats have won seven of the past eight matchups against the Tigers. Auburn recently snapped a seven-game losing skid against Kentucky with its 66-61 upset in this year’s SEC opener.
In conference action, Alexis Jennings has been solid in the post as she became the first Wildcat in the Matthew Mitchell Era to record three straight double-doubles to open up conference play. Jennings has also been impressive from the free throw line in league play, knocking down 14-of-14 shots from the charity stripe to lead the SEC in free throw percentage. Fellow post Evelyn Akhator has recorded a pair of double-doubles alongside Jennings, accomplishing the feat against Auburn and Georgia (Jan. 10), and is averaging 12.1 points and 10.1 rebounds per game for the 2015-16 season.
Leading the Wildcats in the backcourt is the guard combo of Janee Thompson and Makayla Epps. The pair rank 33rd and 34th in the nation in assists per game, respectively, and most recently both posted 16 points in Kentucky’s loss to the No. 2 Gamecocks. Epps is one of the leading scorers in the SEC within conference games, averaging 14.8 ppg for seventh in the league, while Thompson’s 4.3 apg in conference games are good for fourth in the SEC.
Auburn enters Memorial Coliseum with a 12-5 record, including 2-2 within the SEC. After facing Kentucky, the Tigers squared off with two ranked foes in No. 7/6 Mississippi State and No. 13/15 Tennessee. Auburn suffered decisive losses in both, falling 60-45 to the Bulldogs before a 79-52 setback at the hands of the Lady Vols. Most recently, Auburn secured a 72-59 victory over in-state foe Alabama on Thursday evening.
The tandem of Brandy Montgomery and Tra’Cee Tanner is the second-highest scoring duo in SEC play behind USC’s Tiffany Mitchell and A’ja Wilson, with the two Tigers posting an average of 29.3 ppg. Tanner is the most efficient player from the floor in the SEC, connecting on 55.3% of shots from the field, and is also one of the league’s top rebounders, with her 9.0 rebounds per game putting her at ninth in the conference.
At the helm of Auburn’s program is Terri Williams-Flournoy, who has amassed a 63-53 record in her four years as the head coach of the Tigers and a career record of 206-157.
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.
- 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.
Matthew Mitchell Pre-Auburn News Conference
“Well, a tough game versus Auburn on Sunday. They really took it to us a few weeks back. They outhustled us and outplayed us and played tougher than we did. Great opportunity for us to see if we can correct that and we play harder and tougher and find a way to get a victory. But I have to believe that they are highly motivated and very confident after they took it to us the way that they did down in Auburn. So we are looking for a real, real tough game and we will have to practice hard over the next two days to get ready for a very tough Auburn team.”
On what the team learned from Auburn’s press and how has it gone about correcting that this time around …
“Yeah, we really lost composure and that is what pressure is designed to do and it really came through for Auburn. They did a great job of getting us to lose our poise and our focus. So our positioning was very, very bad and we did not play with any mental sharpness after the 17 point lead that we built and I don’t know how sharp we really were when we built the 17 point lead. I just know that we did not space the floor really and didn’t make good decisions and got into the trapping areas and they really outhustled us for some balls that were there for either team to get. We will need to do a better job of staying organized and everybody staying in the correct position and do their job and take care of their responsibility to win.”
On playing Auburn twice in two weeks and if that helps motivate his team because the loss is so fresh on their mind …
“I sure hope so. I hope that they understand how hard that game was for us and how important it is for us to try to become the best team we can be. It’s a great opportunity to turn around and try to correct some of those mistakes. I think in this situation this is a positive for us with it being fresh on our minds. We were really, really outhustled (at Auburn).”
On if Evelyn Akhator came into the program willing to take charges or if it’s been coached to her since getting to Kentucky …
“Yeah, it is just great coaching. It is all coaching and I have really coached her up on that. No, she has come in willing and is very willing. She is quick and has great reaction and then courage. That is what it comes down to. All the great ones have that. We have to do a better job, all of us, of getting in positon. The reason we are not taking a lot of charges is because we are really concerned with our player on the week side of the floor and we don’t have a lot of defensive balance right now, but we have to get some other people involved in that, but she is taking them for the whole team right now. It is good for us that she is doing it because we are not in the right position a lot of the times. That is one of the areas we can really get better at defensively.”
On what the other areas are …
“I just think right now that it is about practicing at a high level where they are having to deal with multiple actions in a set and it is just little details. It is just being four feet outside the paint when I should have two feet in the paint. It is letting a player cut by without bumping her. It is little details that need to happen at game speed and that is how we are going to try to address it. In the flow of practice just really trying to improve positioning and it is a lot inexperience and they lose sight of the ball because they get so concerned with their man. That and we only have one senior playing. It is just defensively right now a work in progress. But they are very willing and very tough and through all of our struggles last night we are playing the No. 2 team in the country and one possession game with six minutes left and then it sort of got away from us, so have to build on that. But it’s a matter of practicing properly. I have told you all before, I have to really do a good coaching job here in practice making sure if Taylor Murray doesn’t see the ball she needs to know right then that is happening. So we are just going to really try to focus on our positioning today and try to make some strides there. I think the athleticism is there and the aggressiveness. We made some great plays where a ball was there and we punched it out and got into transition, so the desire is there. We just need some reps on positioning and seeing if we can continue to make strides as a defensive team.”
On keeping Akhator out of foul trouble …
“There are two things. The people coming off the bench need to play better and need to practice better and practice with more focus and more purpose and then Evelyn needs to practice more focused. We are just going to start really, really penalizing her for fouling in practice. The second foul, which got her to the bench, if you look at it, she steps out the South Carolina player causes the contact and that goes against you. I am sure they are hard plays to call, but that goes against you and whether you are right or wrong the call is the call. So it is those plays that you can’t really do anything about. The first foul, she just ran in and killed somebody at the goal, that is the one that (you have to avoid.) The second one puts you on the bench, but it’s the first one, you can’t get those. That is exactly what happened at Auburn, just too aggressive and too tight. Again, she has to learn and we have to help her and teach her. She is very willing and she will get it.”