UK Hoops Meets No. 17 Vanderbilt in SEC Home Opener
Jan. 9, 2010
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Kentucky women's basketball team returns to Memorial Coliseum Sunday Jan. 10 for its Southeastern Conference home opener against No. 17/16 Vanderbilt. Tip-off is slated for 1 p.m. EST and the game will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio and TV) and FSN South.
Single-game general admission tickets are available for $5 adults/$2 senior citizens and children 6-18. Ages five and under are admitted free. UK students, faculty and staff also are admitted free with valid identification based on availability. For further ticket information, log on to UKathletics.com or call the UK ticket office at 859-257-1818 or 1-800-928-CATS (2287).
Game day parking is available in the "E" lots surrounding Memorial Coliseum, including the Martin Luther King Parking Lot and the Student Center Parking Lot. Due to the holiday break, "R" lot north of the Joe Crafter Center also will be open. Parking within Parking Structure #5, located behind Kennedy's bookstore, is available free of charge. A shuttle bus will be provided to and from the parking structure and Memorial Coliseum. The service begins one hour prior to game time until one hour after the game.
"Our second game in the conference will be another challenging contest for us," UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. "Vanderbilt is one of the quality programs in the country and certainly one of the quality programs in our league. It will be a difficult game for us. They are very explosive offensively and pose quite a few challenges. We will have to play our very best and have great energy and spirit about us to beat a very good Vanderbilt team."
The Wildcats (12-2, 0-1 SEC) look to rebound from a heartbreaking loss to No. 8 Georgia in overtime on Thursday in Athens, 61-60.
Despite trailing by as many as 12 points in the second half, UK rallied to send the game into overtime after junior point guard Amber Smith (Winter Haven, Fla.) nailed two free throws with two seconds on the clock in regulation. After UK built a 60-56 advantage in the extra minutes behind a bucket inside by junior forward Victoria Dunlap (Nashville, Tenn.) and two free throws by senior guard/forward Amani Franklin (Stone Mountain, Ga.), Georgia answered with the game's final five points. UGA's Ashley Houts, who led all scorers with 27 points, converted a basket in the paint before teammate Jasmine James knocked down a three-pointer at the top of the key with 17 seconds left for what proved to be the game winner. Smith led the Cats with 15 points and four assists while Dunlap followed with 12 points and a team-high seven rebounds and five steals.
"I thought that the team played hard and made some critical errors at times, but I think that the biggest thing we can build on is that we were on the road in a difficult situation and were able to fight back and have a chance to win," Mitchell said. "While it is very disappointed, we will remain upbeat and have confidence in our team and know that we have a chance to go out and play well on Sunday."
Sunday's game will showcase two of the SEC's best offensive and defensive teams. Vanderbilt (12-3, 1-1 SEC) currently leads the league in field goal percentage, shooting 47.2 percent from the floor while the Cats are fourth in FG percentage defense, allowing their opponents just .353 percent shooting. Vanderbilt averages 78.3 points per game (4th - SEC scoring offense) while UK's defense has limited opponents to just 54.8 ppg (3rd - SEC scoring defense).
"They are so skilled offensively, averaging 78 points per game and they have several players on the court that can score in a variety of ways. Then they show you multiple looks defensively," Mitchell said. "It is a game where we are going to have to play with a level of intelligence and some discipline. We can't lose focus at any point in the game or they will take advantage of that and beat you. They are just well-balanced offensive team inside and outside."
Vanderbilt also looks to get back on track after falling to Mississippi State on Thursday, 90-76. The Commodores opened league play with an 86-72 win over Ole Miss. Four players average in double-figure point totals for VU. Louisville native Merideth Marsh leads with 15.2 points per game while Jence Roads, the league's leader in assists, follows with 12.5 ppg. Hannah Tuomi and Tiffany Clarke follow with 12.0 and 10.0 ppg, respectively.
For Kentucky, Dunlap and freshman guard A'dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.) are the scoring leaders, averaging 18.6 and 11.8 points per game, respectively. Dunlap, the leader in almost every UK statistical category, also tops the team and ranks third in SEC rebounding (9.8 rpg). The 6-1 forward is No. 3 nationally in steals, averaging 4.1 per game, and has swiped at least one steal in 21 consecutive games.
Sunday will mark the 39th meeting between the squads. UK trails 26-12 all-time, including 10-7 when the game is played in Lexington. UK has lost 13 in a row to the Commodores. The Cats' last victory in the series was 11 years ago (Jan. 7, 1999), a thrilling 70-69 win in Lexington.