Cats Meet Gamecocks Thursday in Memorial
Jan. 12, 2011
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The 19th-ranked Kentucky women's basketball team looks to snap a three-game losing streak and capture its first Southeastern Conference win of the season when it plays host to South Carolina on Thursday, Jan. 13 at 7 p.m. EST in Memorial Coliseum. The game will broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Radio Network with Neil Price.
Season and single-game tickets are on sale now. Season tickets in the upper level chair backs, lower level bleachers and general admission season ticket areas are only $45. Lower level chair backs are $60 for the season. Single-game reserved seats are $7 (regardless of age) while general admission tickets are $7 for adults and $4 for youth/seniors. UK students, faculty and staff are admitted free with valid identification. To purchase tickets, visit the Joe Craft Center in person, call 1-800-928-2287 or go online at UKathletics.com.
The Wildcats (11-4, 0-2 SEC) are ready to put last week behind them after dropping three consecutive games, including two on the road vs. ranked opponents (at No. 3 Duke and at No. 25 Arkansas) followed by a tough two-point loss at home to Georgia. The loss to the Lady Bulldogs ended UK's 25-game home winning streak, the second-longest streak in UK Hoops history.
"This is a very important game for us and we aren't off to the start in conference that we wanted to be but we have had the opportunity to play some really good teams the past week," UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. "Through our struggles, I think we have the opportunity to learn some of the things we need to get better at doing and yesterdays practice was good. We are really going to try to have a good practice today and do everything we can to prepare for a good South Carolina team."
Kentucky continues to rely on the solid play of All-American Victoria Dunlap (Nashville, Tenn.) this season. The 6-foot-2 senior forward paces the Cats statistically, averaging a team-high 17.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.4 steals and 1.9 blocks per game. After charting 53 points in three games last week, she moved up to No. 6 on UK's all-time scoring list and No. 3 on the career double-doubles list after posting a game-high 26 points and 13 rebounds vs. Arkansas. She also moved up to No. 3 on the free-throws made list and needs only one block to climb to No. 2 on that career list.
Also averaging in double-digit scoring this season is the reigning SEC Freshman of the Year A'dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.) and junior sharpshooter Keyla Snowden (Lexington, Ky.) with 14.0 and 11.6 ppg, respectively.
South Carolina travels to Lexington at 9-7 overall, 1-2 in the SEC after dropping a close game at home to Florida on Sunday, 65-63. The Gamecocks are looking for their first road win of the season (0-4).
Sophomore guard Ieasia Walker is the team's leading scorer in all games, averaging 11.7 points per game. The leading rebounder is sophomore forward Ashley Bruner. She also is the USC's leading scorer and rebounder in SEC play with 13.5 ppg and 8.5 rpg.
Like Kentucky, South Carolina does a good job of forcing turnovers. In league play, USC leads the league in turnover margin at +4.3. The Gamecocks are forcing 17.3 turnovers per game while committing just 13.0. UK ranks seventh nationally and leads the SEC in all games played with a +8.2 turnover margin.
Thursday will mark the 45th meeting in the all-time series and the first of two matchups against South Carolina this season. The teams will also meet in Columbia, S.C., on Feb. 10. UK owns a 27-17 lead overall, including a 16-5 advantage when the game is in Lexington. UK won last year's meeting in Memorial on Senior Day, 71-50.
Women's basketball parking is available in the following surface lots and parking structures:
- Student Center Lot - off Euclid Ave
- MLK South Lot - between Lexington Ave and Martin Luther King Boulevard and south (towards Euclid) of the center drive lane. UK STUDENTS ARE BACK - DO NOT PARK IN NORTH MLK LOT (closest to Wildcat Lodge) AS THIS IS A RESIDENTIAL LOT AND SUBJECT TO TICKET/TOW.
- Joe Craft Center North E-Lot - large lot located north of the Joe Craft Center and accessible via Lexington Avenue or Rose Street.
- Good Samaritan surface Lot - accessible off Martin Luther King Boulevard
Parking Structure #5 - entrances off Limestone and S. Upper.
- Doors to the 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.
- Surface event lots (i.e. Student Center, Hardymon, MLK and Good Samaritan) typically reach capacity approximately 30-45 minutes prior to tipoff, at which point, vehicles should proceed to Parking Structure #5.
- The parking structure shuttle will begin one hour prior to tip and end one hour postgame. The shuttle picks up on Administration Drive, accessible via the sky bridge located on the third floor of Parking Structure #5.
- Handicapped parking (first come, first served until full) is located in the northeast corner of the MLK South Lot; must have valid state-issued hang tag
Pregame Press Conference: Head Coach Matthew Mitchell
Opening Statement ...
"This is a very important game for us and we aren't off to the start in conference that we wanted to be but we have had the opportunity to play some really good teams the past week. Through our struggles, I think we have the opportunity to learn some of the things we need to get better at doing and yesterdays practice was good. We are really going to try to have a good practice today and do everything we can to prepare for a good South Carolina team."
On South Carolina leading the league in turnover margin and UK handling the pressure ...
"That's a big key for us because we had 24 turnovers against Georgia on Sunday and I thought that was huge factor in us not winning the game. I thought we had caused enough and Georgia turned it over enough for us to have won the game but our turnovers were very bad and we just need to be very aware in this game that South Carolina has a fine defensive team and taking care of the basketball game will be of great importance."
On how his team has reacted to the adversity of the past week ...
"They reacted to practice well yesterday. They had a day off on Monday. We didn't talk about the losing streak yesterday we just talked about the Georgia game and why we lost the Georgia game and what mistakes we could correct. I guess we will find out. We didn't react very positively to the Duke loss but with a very lethargic showing against Arkansas. Our effort was better against Georgia but our execution continued to suffer. We have had a chance to address all those things so hopefully we will do better Thursday night."
On how he coaches Victoria Dunlap to be a leader in tough times...
"It was pretty glaring yesterday as we went through our film session that a lot of Victoria's challenges that she is facing right now are a direct result from her having to shoulder too much of the load or her trying to do too much because one thing I know is that Victoria wants to win and win badly. When you can go back and look at the video you can see that her teammate's aren't helping her a whole lot and that makes her look bad and those bad plays start to erode her confidence. My message in our film session yesterday was we need to give Victoria some help and she'll stop making these very negative plays. She turned the ball over six times in the Georgia game and that's just way too many. We can't have her doing that. She's not shooting a good percentage because she's rushing her shot and shooting in double and triple teams. I think for Victoria, the way to coach her right now is to coach her teammates and have her teammates do a better job. That is absolutely my responsibility to make certain that they are doing what they are suppose to do and we worked very hard on that yesterday."
On seeing more concerns than just the point guard position ...
"Listen, the point guard position was bad but a lot of other positions were, too. We were able to see that and address that and so it's not all on the point guard, a lot of it is but not all. There were plenty of mistakes to go around. I think it was helpful, we had a whirlwind week, and we didn't go back to the games before to correct mistakes because we had a day in between to try to get ready for the next opponent. During that week we just got progressively worse at execution and so I think for them to see it and them to be able to really indentify what the coaches are saying (was helpful for them). I think sometimes that gets lost because I think sometimes the coaches are just mad or upset and we're just on their case. For them to see it yesterday I think it was very helpful and they did a good job on the practice floor, making corrections."
On how has the team recovered after three games in five days ...
"Everybody looks pretty good. That's always a tough stretch to go through and difficult stretch to go through. One good thing was the days in between we didn't go very hard. We tried to watch their bodies there and they came back yesterday pretty strong. I think we're relatively in good shape. I think this is a tough time of the year for everybody and everyone has different types of schedules. I think you will start seeing teams settle in to this Thursday-Sunday conference schedule so you know when things are coming up and how to plan for that. I think you'll start seeing teams rounding into shape now."
On if the freshmen are performing the way he wants or are they still learning ...
"Some are performing well and some are not. Again, this sounds repetitive but the kids that practice well generally play well. We have some freshmen that are talented that haven't practiced well and it's starting to catch up to them. For a kid like Jennifer O'Neill who wants to get in and play and she had an opportunity to get on the floor Sunday and wanted to but all of those practices that she didn't perform well in caught up with her because defensively she was out of position. She was getting fouls called on her. If she had practiced at the right pace those are probably plays she doesn't make. That's part of having a young team. Kids have to learn different ways. Some kids have to touch that hot stove and get burned and some kids you just tell them and they don't touch it. That's where we are, we have some of them that had to get burned and some didn't and the ones that didn't are performing well like Kastine Evans. I have a lot of confidence that she can function well tomorrow night and I don't know what I am going to get out of (Jennifer) O'Neill tomorrow night. That's sort of where we are with our freshmen group."
On Amber Smith's health ...
"Amber's health is good and she is progressing well and we are still probably three weeks away from any definite decision. It looks like right now she's probably leaning to returning next season but I don't want to hide any information from you. That's talking about it today and we've always tried to talk about it as it is happening today. In three weeks when she's released and feeling great and wants to come back, she can do that. We'll monitor that situation day-to-day but she is progressing very well."
On how big a role Amber has on the team right now ...
"I have really tried to work with her there and telling her how important she is. It's tough. It's a tough situation for her and it's hard to make a player understand that they can make an impact because the can't really see the result on the court without them actually going out and doing something. It's been a real challenge for Amber. I think it's been a great opportunity for her to learn some things about herself. That's a day-to-day process and she was terrific yesterday. The thing we have been looking for is don't draw, don't go into yourself, don't feel disconnected. I really admire that every time she has gotten into that mode and we've talked about it, she has worked to get out of it. Like yesterday, she made some points that were very helpful to people so I think that she needs to understand that she can be much more powerful than she can be right now."