Cats Welcome South Carolina to Memorial Coliseum

Feb. 4, 2009

Complete Pregame Notes Get Acrobat Reader | Pregame Press Conference Quotes

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky women's basketball team looks to end a four-game losing skid when it faces the South Carolina Gamecocks Thursday, Feb. 5 in Memorial Coliseum. The game will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Radio Network with Neil Price, beginning at 7 p.m. ET.

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 ticket information, log on to UKathletics.com or call the UK ticket office at 859-257-1818 or 1-800-928-CATS (2287).

The Wildcats (12-10, 2-5 Southeastern Conference) return to the friendly confines of Memorial Coliseum after dropping two road games last week at No. 12/16 Florida (74-59) and at Ole Miss (69-60). Senior Carly Ormerod (Louisville, Ky.) led UK in scoring against the Gators with a season-high 19 points while sophomore forward Victoria Dunlap (Nashville, Tenn.) grabbed her eighth double-double of the season with 16 points and 12 rebounds. In Oxford, junior guard Amani Franklin (Stone Mountain, Ga.) netted a season high-tying 20 points and Dunlap pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds, however, the Cats could not overcome 21 turnovers.

“It is a really important game for us as we enter the midway point of the conference season,” Mitchell said. “We have not been playing very well and Thursday night is our next opportunity to try to get our team playing better. After assessing our team, we are not rebounding nearly at a level to where we can reach our goals and that is something that we are trying to address this week in practice. Defensively, we are having too many breakdowns that are costing us close games so every possession is important. South Carolina is coming in strong and they have been in every game, too. It will be two teams that are hungry and looking for a win. It will be a big game for us Thursday.”

Thirteen of UK's 22 games, including six of the seven league games, have been decided by 10 points or less. The Cats are 6-7 in those close games and hold a scoring margin of just -2.9 during SEC play. However, despite the closes losses, Mitchell refuses to be discouraged.

“I think that is an important part of my job to not lose faith in the players and I certainly haven't, not even close,” Mitchell said. “The way I look at it they are going to have some four-game losing streaks in life and this is not a time to get discouraged. We have been in every game and we can show them on film the reasons we are not performing. Heading into Thursday I think we have a great chance to win if we do the things we need to do. We have to stay energetic and upbeat and keep believing in ourselves. That is an important part of what we do.”

Overall, Dunlap and senior center Eleia Roddy (Columbus, Ohio) are UK's main weapons in both scoring and rebounding. Dunlap averages a team-high 12.3 points and a SEC-high 9.0 rebounds per game while Roddy follows close behind with 11.9 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. In SEC play, Dunlap averages a double-double (12.7 points and a league-high 10.4 rpg).

The Gamecocks are 9-11 overall and 1-6 in SEC play after falling to LSU last week. Their lone conference win came at Ole Miss on Jan. 22 behind a 31-point performance from senior guard Brionna Dickerson. Unfortunately, Dickerson, along with fellow senior Demetress Adams, are out due to knee injuri es.  Dickerson is out at least two weeks and Adams will miss the rest of the season.

Dickerson and Adams are USC's leading scorers, averaging 13.4 and 10.7 points per game, respectively. Freshman Lakeisha Sutton is the third-leading scorer with 10.2 ppg. Without Adams, USC's leading rebounder is C.J. Pace and Jewel May with 5.8 and 5.6 rebounds per game, respectively.

Dawn Staley is in her first season at South Carolina after spending eight seasons as the head coach at Temple.

This is the 41st meeting in the all-time series with South Carolina. UK owns a 24-16 lead, including a 14-5 advantage in Lexington. UK has won seven of the last nine meetings, including four straight in Memorial Coliseum.

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.

Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening statement …
“It is a really important game for us as we enter the midway point of the conference season. We have not been playing very well and Thursday night is our next opportunity to try to get our team playing better. From a halfway point assessment, we are not rebounding nearly at a level to where we can reach our goals here at the conference play and that is something that we are trying to address this week in practice. Defensively, we are having too many breakdowns that are costing us close games so every possession is important. We have been working on that this week. South Carolina is coming in strong and they have been in every game, too. It will be two teams that are hungry and looking for a win. It will be a big game for us Thursday.”

On how he is keeping the morale of the team up after so many close losses …
“I think that is an important part of my job to not lose faith in the players and I certainly haven't, not even close. I am really disappointed in them because I think they can do better. The way I look at it they are going to have some four-game losing streaks in life and this is not time to get discouraged because we have been in every game and we can show them on film the reason we are not performing the way we want them to perform. Heading into Thursday, I think that we have a great chance to win if we do the things we need to do. There is no sense at all from us that we are going to get discouraged because that would make whatever problems we have worse. We have to stay energetic and upbeat and keep believing in ourselves. That is an important part of what we do.”

On if one win can give Kentucky some momentum …
“I think it could be really important. When you hit a tough patch especially when they are close games, one of the natural things for players to do is start looking around and see if it is some type of mystical thing happening. We have to avoid that because it is really clear why we haven't been getting the job done. A win can help them be more positive and believe what they are capable of doing. If you win a game by three or lose a game by three - it isn't a big point spread there but it is a lot different feeling. I would never underestimate what a win would do for us.”

On what Kentucky is not doing well right now …
“Right now our perimeter play both offensively and defensively is just not close to where it needs to be for us to max out our potential for this team. It involves a lot of areas. For defense, particularly on Sunday against Ole Miss, it was probably one of the poorest rebounding efforts that we have had since I have been here. Kentucky women's basketball is trying to hang our hat on a few simple things and one of those is rebounding. When we have rebounded the ball well this year we have had success and we haven't been rebounding well. We have two players inside in Eleia Roddy and Victoria Dunlap who have been battling hard every game but our perimeter players haven't been going to the boards offensively or defensively at a level that will help us win these close games. When you start talking about possessions in a game and ones that are coming down to a possession or two a lot of those are decided on the boards. That is one thing that has jumped out at me during this rough patch we have hit. We are not rebounding the way I want us to rebound here at Kentucky. That is something that we have talked to our perimeter players about. Also, our decision making has been poor on offense. Sometimes we will shoot when we should pass and sometimes we will pass when we should shoot. Those are things that frustrate me as a coach and I just have to go to work every day to try to correct. We are trying to do that through film study and constructing practice in a way where they can get better. That is what we tried to do yesterday. We just tried to have a practice to where we touched on the things that will help us win Thursday night.”