UK Hoops Returns to Memorial To Face Florida

Jan. 21, 2012

LEXINGTON, Ky. –  No. 6/6 Kentucky, off to the second-best start in school history, looks to continue its six-game winning streak when it plays host to Florida on Sunday in Memorial Coliseum at 2 p.m. ET. The game will be televised live on the SEC Network with Cara Capuano and Abby Waner calling the action.

Gameday
Gameday Information
Kentucky vs. Florida
Sun., Jan. 22 - 2:00 p.m. ET
Memorial Coliseum
Fan Guide
Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader | UF Get Acrobat Reader
Coverage
TV: SEC Network
Radio: UK IMG
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Live Video via ESPN3
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Sunday is the second matchup between the squads this season as UK defeated the Gators in Gainesville, Fla., on Jan. 1, 59-56.

“We have a tough, tough matchup here Sunday afternoon with Florida,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “The first one was probably the most physical game we’ve had yet in the conference. It was just a really tough, tough, physical test for us. It was great that we were able to win that game in Gainesville, (Fla.,) by a very slim margin. (It’s a) tough team we’re playing, they have some really good players, and (they are) well coached so we’ll have to do everything we can to get ready for our second meeting with Florida and we need to see if we can get another win.”

Kentucky is off to its second-best start in school history. At 17-2, it’s the best start since the 1982-83 team began 19-2. The Wildcats have won 15 straight games at home which ranks as the fourth-longest streak in school history and ties for ninth nationally.

The Wildcats (17-2, 6-0 Southeastern Conference) are coming off their second straight come-from-behind victory and third consecutive win over a ranked opponent with a gritty 69-64 decision over No. 15/14 Georgia in Stegeman Coliseum on Thursday. Trailing by 10 (46-36) with 15:42 to go in the game, UK went on a 24-7 run paced by 13 points from freshman Bria Goss (Indianapolis), to capture its first win in Athens, Ga., since 2008. The rookie guard ended the game with a career-high 22 points, netting 17 of those in the decisive second half. Sophomore Samarie Walker (West Carrollton, Ohio) also gave the Cats a boost off the bench as she recorded a career-best 18 points and nine rebounds in just 20 minutes of play. Overall, UK’s bench outscored Georgia’s 34-0 and the Cats won the battle of the boards, 47-36.

Leading the way this season is junior guard and Naismith Award Watch List member A’dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.). She continues to dominate in almost every statistical category as she averages 16.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.2 steals per game. She has netted double figures in 14 of 18 games she has played this season, including seven games with 20 or more points. She ranks second in the SEC and 25th nationally in steals per game, having swiped at least one steal in 19 consecutive games dating back to last season.

Goss also continues to impress as she ranks second on the team in scoring behind Mathies and is the SEC’s top freshman scorer with 12.0 points per game. She has scored in double figures in all but four games this season, including a career-high 22 points at Georgia.

Florida (13-6, 3-3 SEC) enters Sunday’s contest coming off a 61-37 home win over Alabama on Thursday. Junior forward Jennifer George led Florida to the victory with team-highs in points (15) and rebounds (12) en route to recording her fourth double-double in Southeastern Conference play.

George leads the Gators in scoring and rebounding, averaging nearly a double-double with 13.7 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. George has 11 double-doubles on the season, including four in conference play. Senior guard Lanita Bartley facilitates the Gators’ offense, passing out a team-high 3.37 assists per game.

UK and Florida meet for the 45th time in school history. The series is tied at 22 apiece but UK leads 11-9 when the game is played in Lexington, including 10-9 in Memorial Coliseum. The Cats are looking for their fourth-straight win over the Gators, including fourth in a row in Lexington.

Tickets are sold out. If not able to attend the game, it will be televised live on the SEC Network and a live video stream is available via ESPN3.com. It also can be heard on the UK IMG Sports Radio Network with Neil Price. Fans can also follow the UK Hoops team on Twitter at @UKHoopCats and use #UKHoops to comment on the game.

Women's basketball parking for Sunday’s game is available in the following surface lots and parking structures:

  • Student Center Lot - off Euclid Ave
  • MLK South Lot - between Lexington Ave and MLK Blvd. and south (towards Euclid) of the center drive lane.  DO NOT PARK IN NORTH MLK LOT (closest to Wildcat Lodge) AS THIS IS A RESIDENTIAL LOT AND SUBJECT TO TICKET/TOW
  • 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
  • Joe Craft Center North E-Lot - large lot located north of the Joe Craft Center, and accessible via Lexington Avenue or Rose St.
  • Good Samaritan surface Lot - accessible off MLK Blvd
  • Parking Structure #5 - entrances off Limestone and S. Upper

Other important notes about Sunday’s game:

  • UK Athletics encourages women's basketball fans to arrive early to ease traffic and parking congestion around the Coliseum.
  • Doors to the Coliseum will open one (1) hour prior to tip-off.   
  • Surface event lots (i.e. Student Center, Hardymon, South MLK, Joe Craft Center North and Good Samaritan Surface Lot) typically reach capacity approximately 45 minutes prior to tip-off, at which point, vehicles should proceed to Parking Structure #5 (PS#5).  
  • The PS #5 shuttle will begin one hour prior to tip and end one hour post-game. The PS #5 shuttle picks up on Administration Drive, accessible via the sky bridge located on the 3rd Floor of PS#5.

Pre-Florida Media Opportunity - Jan. 20, 2012

Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening statement…
“We have a tough, tough matchup here Sunday afternoon with Florida. The first one was probably the most physical game we’ve had yet in the conference. It was just a really tough, tough, physical test for us. It was great that we were able to win that game in Gainesville, (Fla.,) by a very slim margin. (It’s a) tough team we’re playing, they have some really good players, and (they are) well coached so we’ll have to do everything we can to get ready for our second meeting with Florida and we need to see if we can get another win.”

On if he expected to have this record this late in the season…
“I’ve been asked that question; I really try to have the discipline to stay focused with the task at hand, so probably not. It’s just hard to think about that. I learned long ago you don’t look far into the future when you start an SEC season. You try to worry about that first game and we’ve done a pretty good job with that. I’m really happy with where we are, but there’s a long, long ways to go. Basketball teams and their psyche’s can be real fragile so you can’t ever let up. You have to really stay focused and not worry about the record but the next game.”

On what’s been the key to having the team stay focused with the task at hand…
“This team has done a good job. The loss at Middle Tennessee State really exposed some things. So really, it was a great event in the course of this season for this team because we were able to come back here and really get focused on some key things that we could work on. They have really taken to the routine of the Tuesday-Wednesday practices to prepare for Thursday, and the Friday-Saturday preparation – we’ve tried to keep those pretty much the same, keep the focus more on Kentucky than our opponents. They’ve done a really good job with that. Sometimes at this point in the season you’re still not getting better, you’re trying to keep from slipping. Some teams have already gotten to their completed form by this time in the year, and I don’t think we’re there. I still see us growing in practice, so that’s been a really encouraging development with this particular team.”

On what he took from the Georgia win that he can carry throughout the year…
“All three of our road wins we’ve fought back from deficits at some point in the game. And in the last two this past week with South Carolina and Georgia we fought back from second-half deficits. It is good to know that the kids will fight when their backs are against the wall. In both cases I wish our backs weren’t against the wall because you’re doing certain things that are leading to the deficits, but we’ve shown a great ability to score and that’s been our issue in years past. We’ve been tough defensively, but we just haven’t had – if A’dia (Mathies) was off we didn’t have a Bria Goss who could step up and go get 22 (points) like she did last night. I just continue to take away from these games my belief in the players. We have really good players who seem to have a will to win and they’re good character kids, so I like our team right now. These have been some hard fought wins we’ve been able to earn.”

On coming back home after two straight road games…
“I think they will really be excited. The last time we were in here we beat Tennessee in front of a great crowd. I know we’re approaching another sellout. It’s hard to go to Columbia, S.C., and have the right kind of energy to beat a tough South Carolina team, and it’s very difficult to go to Athens(, Ga.,) and get the right kind of energy to beat a really good Georgia team. Anytime you come back here is an exciting thing for our players. We have great fans and I’m just real appreciative of the people who buy the tickets and come out here and watch our games, because our kids really draw from the energy of the crowd. They’re looking forward to it, they love playing in Memorial (Coliseum).

On if the first Florida game taught him that his team can win by playing different styles of ball…
“That was a huge game for us because our confidence was really low. We had looked very bad in the press at Middle Tennessee State and we hadn’t really had the time to get it corrected to the level where I felt comfortable, so we really didn’t press Florida last time full court. I didn’t know whether we could sort of grind it out and do it, but we did exactly that. We had tremendous half-court defense. That was a big game for us. That showed us we can win at a different style and of course it was our first SEC game so you really didn’t know what you had anyway as it related to being prepared for the conference. I was really, really proud of that win because we were sort of down going into Gainesville, and for them to fight as hard as they did, that was a particularly good win for us.”

On if he believes his team is now the ‘hunted’ after its 6-0 start in SEC play…
“I think that takes more time than what we’ve had here. I still think we have a lot to prove here at Kentucky. We’re trying to be more than a passing fad, we’re trying to be here to stay and that takes time. We’re not there yet. I don’t think we’re the hunted at all. I think we are a team that is really good or well thought of for this particular year, but I don’t think we’re at that stage yet.”

On if he believes freshman guard Bria Goss was playing with something to prove last night…
“Yeah, I was really proud of Bria. Let me tell you about Bria Goss: That kid, as you all can tell by watching her play, is extremely talented. But she has unbelievable character and she is incredibly coachable, and she is so honest which is so refreshing as a coach. There are so many times where you’ll approach a player and you’ll say, ‘What’s going on?’ and ‘Nothing, Coach. Nothing’s happening.’ I asked Bria, she had really had a drop off in a couple games and I asked her, ‘What’s going on?’ And we had really been focused on trying to limit our turnovers. We were turning the ball over too much, so we have a new approach to dealing with turnovers and it involves wind sprints if they turn it over too much. So they’re real concerned about turnovers. So that’s a good thing in one way, but Bria was very honest, she said, ‘Coach, I think since we’ve gone to the turnover formula – or however we want to call that – I think I’ve been a little tentative.’ So, that was great information because she was not the one I was worried about. The turnovers Bria Goss makes when she’s being aggressive are not the ones we will be running wind sprints for. It’s the careless ones. So I was able to say, ‘You’re not really the person who needs to be looking over her shoulder on that one. None of them really need to, but you’re not the one who needs to. You need to really go back to being assertive and you need to have a killer instinct, a killer mentality.’ That’s what she is. She can just go get you some buckets and she did it last night. That information was valuable and if she hadn’t been honest with me I don’t know if I would have been able to give her that reassurance. It’s as simple as that quick conversation. Last night she played light’s out.”