UK Hoops Welcomes Razorbacks in Memorial
Jan. 20, 2010
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The 25th-ranked Kentucky women's basketball team welcomes the Arkansas Razorbacks to Memorial Coliseum Thursday for a Southeastern Conference showdown. Game time is set for 7 p.m. EST and it will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Radio Network with Neil Price. Prior to the game, the Wildcats will honor former UK football coach Rich Brooks and his wife Karen for their support of the Kentucky women's basketball program.
"Rich Brooks is a man that has always supported our women's basketball team and we wanted to honor Coach Brooks with the game ball from our win over Vanderbilt," UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. "He is a man that means a lot to our team and means a lot to me personally. He has been a great example for me and has always exhibited what we are all about: honesty, hard work and discipline. We just want to honor Coach Brooks and his wife Karen and thank them for everything they've done for this university."
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).
Fans are encouraged to park in Parking Structure 5 located next to Kennedy's Bookstore on Limestone Avenue. Parking within Parking Structure 5 will be available free of charge. A shuttle bus service also will be provided and begins one hour prior to game time until one hour after the game. Additional 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.
Kentucky (14-3, 2-2 SEC), which debuted at No. 25 in the USA Today/ESPN Top 25 Coaches Poll for the first time since 2006, looks to capture its 13th consecutive win in Memorial Coliseum on Thursday. The Cats' current 12-game home win streak ranks fifth in school history.
"It's an important game for us," Mitchell said. "It looks like every game in the SEC is going to be critical. It looks like the way the conference is being played right now that road wins are going to be hard to come by, so playing well at home and winning your home games is going to be very important. Our team understands what the formula to success is. We're going to have to play very tough, solid defense against Arkansas. I know Arkansas will come in here hungry for a win. It will be a tough game tomorrow night and we'll do everything we can do get ready for it."
The Wildcats are just two wins shy of last year's total of 16 wins after upsetting No. 17/16 Vanderbilt last week 63-53 and bouncing back from a road loss at South Carolina to defeat Alabama on Sunday, 88-63.
Three Cats are averaging in double-digit scoring this season. Junior All-SEC forward Victoria Dunlap (Nashville, Tenn.) leads the way with a team-high in points (17.4 ppg) and rebounds (8.8 rpg). Freshman A'dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.) and junior Amber Smith (Winter Haven, Fla.) follow with 12.1 and 10.9 points per game, respectively.
One of the main reasons for UK's success this season has been its defensive prowess. UK is second nationally in turnover margin (+10.0) and also ranks among the nation's best in steals (6th - 13.2), blocks (31st - 5.0) and scoring defense (32nd- 56.6). The Cats have held 16 of their 17 opponents to under 68 points this season.
The Razorbacks, led by former Louisville coach Tom Collen, arrive in Lexington looking for their first conference win and their first road win of the season. Arkansas is 8-10 overall, 0-5 in the SEC after falling to No. 6 Georgia on Sunday in Fayetteville, 73-63. The `Backs also are 0-4 away from home.
Sophomore Lyndsay Harris and senior Charity Ford lead the team in scoring, averaging 12.2 and 12.1 points per game, respectively. UA's leading rebounder is sophomore Ashley Daniels with 6.9 rebounds per game.
Thursday marks the 25th meeting between the teams. The series is tied at 12 apiece overall but the Wildcats own an 8-3 advantage when the game is played in Lexington. UK has won the last six against Arkansas, including three straight at home. Arkansas, which joined the SEC in the 1991-92 season, hasn't won in Lexington since 2003.
Head Coach Matthew Mitchell Pregame Quotes
"It's an important game for us. It looks like every game in the SEC is going to be critical. It looks like the way the conference is being played right now that road wins are going to be hard to come by, so playing well at home and winning your home games is going to be very important. Our team understands what the formula to success is. We're going to have to play very tough, solid defense against Arkansas. I know Arkansas will come in here hungry for a win. It will be a tough game tomorrow night and we'll do everything we can do get ready for it."
On making the Top-25 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll...
"It means different things to the program than it does to this team. For the program, it's a great thing. We want to be ranked. We want to have that type of program. We want to be No. 1. If that's a sign that we're making progress, then that's a good thing for us. It's very good for the program to be ranked. For this team, it's a separate situation. We have to stay focused. We can't let that become a negative for us, to have any type of sense of arrival. It's my job as a coach to make certain our players stay focused and understand what's happening. I hope this is the first of many times we are in the polls. We need to understand how to function as a program that is in the national polls."
On how important it is for the players to come out with intensity for every game...
"It's extremely important. What brings that home was the South Carolina game. When you get in the position that we are in, as far as defensive position, and you are not playing with a lot of mental focus and physical effort then you are exposed because you are spread out on the floor with a lot of driving lanes. It's critical that they have the kind of tenacity and mental focus. We need to be locked in defensively when we play this style. There are not a lot of safety nets for you. We spend a lot of time on fundamentals and techniques so we can be in the right position and then much like an offensive basketball team that tries to set good screens and run the path, we need to execute the plan."
On what he has seen in guard Amber Smith since conference play...
"She has just had the right mentality and been very aggressive. In non-conference play, the teams aren't as familiar with you. They might not have you scouted as well because there is not a high volume of games. Once you get to conference play there is a body of work there that if a coach wants to take the time to find out what you are doing, they are going to find out what you are doing. When conference time hits, players are going to have to start making plays. When a team shuts down the pattern of an offensive set, then it's down to the player making the play. That's what she's been able to do. She's been able to make big baskets at critical times and keep her composure and execute in the clutch. That's the biggest difference I've seen in her and it's been a real necessity for the team."
On bouncing back quickly from the South Carolina loss...
"Fundamentally, both physical and mentally where we have tried to get the team, it just showed that they were able to recognize mistakes they had made and they corrected those. That's encouraging for a coach. I felt that they would bounce back but there are no guarantees. They are young people and I don't take any day for granted with them. They have been outstanding for a huge part of this season. That was a bump in the road that we hopefully won't experience again. If we do, we will not be very successful in this league."