UK Hoops Plays Host to Mississippi State Sunday

Jan. 17, 2009

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky women’s basketball team looks for its sixth straight home win when it plays host to Mississippi State Sunday, Jan. 18 at 4 p.m. EST in the Memorial Coliseum. The game will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio and TV) and FSN South.

The Wildcats, who also look to chart their first win over Mississippi State in Lexington since 1998, returns to Memorial Coliseum after defeating Alabama on the road Thursday in Tuscaloosa, 67-57. It was the first Southeastern Conference road win for the Cats this season and their fourth straight win over the Tide.

“I was very pleased with how we started the game,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “We took control early but then made some mistakes that allowed Alabama to get back in it. At the end of the game, Eleia Roddy and Victoria Dunlap showed why they are two of the top rebounders in this conference because they took over the defensive boards. It was a great sign to see us understand what we needed to do to win the game and get it done. It was a great win for us, and we found out a lot about our team.”

The five Wildcat starters scored all 67 points and were led by senior center Eleia Roddy (Columbus, Ohio) and sophomore guard Carly Morrow (Chattanooga, Tenn.) who each netted a career-high 19 points. Sophomore forward Victoria Dunlap (Nashville, Tenn.) followed with 16 points and a game-high 12 rebounds for her eighth career and fifth season double-double. Roddy pulled down 10 rebounds for her 13th career and SEC-leading ninth double-double of the season. It marked the fourth time this year UK has had more than one player record a double-double in the same game. Sophomore point guard Amber Smith (Winter Haven, Fla.) added 11 points and six assists while hitting 7-of-8 free throws all in the final two minutes of the game. Overall, UK hit 25-of-30 free throws and outrebounded Alabama 43-42.

Getting to the free throw line has proven to be a key factor in UK’s last two SEC wins. The Cats attempted 30-plus free throws against Arkansas and Alabama, hitting 26-of-36 against the Razorbacks and 25-of-30 vs. the Tide. In the final two minutes, UK combined to hit 19 of its 22 free-throw attempts. UK ranks fourth in free throw shooting percentage during SEC play, shooting 70.8 percent.

Mississippi State is coming off a win over its instate rival Ole Miss last Sunday followed by a loss to No. 13/15 Tennessee on Thursday. Down by as many as 18 points in the second half, MSU stormed back to stun the Lady Rebels, 69-64, in Starkville. The Lady Bulldogs then took the Lady Vols to the wire at home before falling 63-56. MSU grabbed a 56-54 lead with 2:53 remaining but Tennessee scored the final nine points of the game to seal the win.

“As I have done preparations for Mississippi State today I am very impressed with their team,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “They had an excellent non-conference record and they pose a tremendous challenge to us Sunday afternoon. They are very athletic and have a lot of explosiveness on offense. Being athletic it makes them very dangerous defensively, causing turnovers and blocking shots. It will be a very tough game and one that our team is looking forward to because we will have to play good basketball to beat Mississippi State.”

State is led in scoring by junior guard Alexis Rack who is averaging 14.2 points a game. Rack leads the SEC in three-point field goals a game with 2.6 and ranks second in the league in free-throw percentage, converting 87.5 percent. Senior Robin Porter is coming off a near double-double-double performance with 12 points and nine rebounds vs. Tennessee. She recorded 17 points and 12 rebounds against Ole Miss. Junior college transfer Chanel Mokango set a school record with nine blocks against the Lady Rebels. The 6-5 junior followed that with seven against the Lady Vols. She has already set a school single-season record with 63 rejections this season.

Former Wildcat coach Sharon Fanning is in her 33rd season overall as a head coach, her 14th at Mississippi State. She owned a 134-97 overall record coaching Kentucky from 1987-95.