UK Hoops Travels to Arkansas on Super Bowl Sunday
Feb. 6, 2010
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Kentucky women's basketball team hits the road for the third time in four games when it travels to Fayetteville, Ark., for a matchup with the Arkansas Razorbacks Sunday, Feb. 7 at 3 p.m. EST in Bud Walton Arena. The game will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network with Neil Price.
UK Hoops fans will have an opportunity to watch the game online for a small fee. Arkansas will stream the game on the paid portion of its website called "RazorVison." Fans can find a link in the upper right corner of the site. Here is a direct link to more information along with cost and sign up information: http://www.arkansasrazorbacks.com/regflow/MoreInfo.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=6100
The 20th/18th-ranked Wildcats (19-3, 7-2 Southeastern Conference) are looking to capture their first 20-win season since 2006-07 and keep their two-game road winning streak alive. The Cats have proven to play well on the road as of late, earning back-to-back wins at No. 18/19 LSU and Mississippi State. UK also looks for its eighth consecutive win over Arkansas, including the second win over UA this season. The Cats defeated the Razorbacks in Lexington on Jan. 21, 69-52.
"This is sort of a tricky game because it is the second time around with Arkansas," UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. "They are definitely a talented team. We had a good game over here with them but they have a lot of explosive athletes on the perimeter and they missed a lot of open shots here. We will have to work hard on getting better defensively so we can handle them. Anytime you play a team the second time around it's tough especially with it being on their home court. It is a big challenge for us and we need to play well."
Kentucky currently ranks second in the conference with a 7-2 mark, while Arkansas sits at No. 11 at 9-13 overall, 1-8 in the SEC. The Razorbacks are have lost two straight after falling to No. 25 Vanderbilt and No. 5 Tennessee. Three players average in double digits with sophomore Lyndsay Harris leading the way. She averages a team-high 12.5 points per game while senior Charity Ford and sophomore C'eira Rickets, a Louisville, Ky., native, follow with 12.1 and 10.3 ppg, respectively. UA's leading rebounder is sophomore Ashley Daniels with 6.8 rebounds per game.
Junior All-SEC forward Victoria Dunlap (Nashville, Tenn.) continues to pace the Wildcats in almost every statistical category. She leads the team in scoring (17.6 ppg), rebounding (8.8), blocks (2.0) and steals (3.4) per game. She is the only player in the SEC to rank in the top three of both the scoring and rebounding categories and she currently ranks in the top 10 of five different career lists at UK.
Reigning SEC Freshman of the Week, A'dia Mathies, (Louisville, Ky.) continues to live up to her billing as she follows Dunlap in scoring with 12.1 points per game. The 5-9 guard is coming off a stellar performance against Ole Miss as she tallied a career-high 21 points and a team-high tying seven rebounds in the 80-66 win.
"It is remarkable to see a freshman function at that level," Mitchell said. "She has been a lot of fun to coach. She pulled the biggest defensive assignment last night in the top scorer in the league and we didn't hesitate to put her on there. We didn't know what she would do exactly but we knew she would give a good effort. She is doing a really good job."
UK holds a slight 13-12 lead in the all-time series and despite trailing 8-2 in games played in Fayetteville, UK has experienced recent success at Arkansas, winning in its last two trips to Bud Walton Arena.
Matthew Mitchell Pregame Press Conference
Opening Statement ...
"This is sort of a tricky game because it is the second time around with Arkansas. They are definitely a talented team. We had a good game over here with them but they have a lot of explosive athletes on the perimeter and they missed a lot of open shots here. We will have to work hard on getting better defensively so we can handle them. Anytime that you play a team the second time around is tough especially with it being on their home court. It is a big challenge for us and we need to play well."
On his team staying true to themselves and how hard that is ...
"That is the thing that has impressed me about our players up to this point is that they have not grown weary of doing the little things that we need to do in order to be successful. As a coach, you get concerned about that because it is a pretty simple formula for us. We have to work hard every day on some things defensively to give us a chance to be successful. As a coach, part of your job is to be concerned about those things and make certain that you keep them focused. I met with our point guard yesterday, Amber Smith, to try to check in and see how she felt the team was. They have embraced the fundamentals and hard work and we have done a good job of keeping our focus on the next game. We will try to do that with this one as well."
On if that is easier to do when you are winning like Kentucky is right now ...
"Listen, it is a great atmosphere around here right now. What we have tried hard to do is not get caught up in anything that really doesn't matter. You know that saying that the kids are always talking about, `Keeping it real?' That is what we are trying to do - keep it real on the stuff that really matters. That is your performance in practice on Tuesday. Tuesday is a very important day for us because we go really hard and work really hard and it gets our week off to a great start. The things that matter are on the practice court, then if you can go in and execute in the game. Our record doesn't matter and Arkansas record doesn't matter. It is going to be the players that are going to decide it on that court Sunday. That is what we are going to stay focused on."
On if this is the part of the season where the depth really comes in big ...
"I think so. As you see our game against Arkansas for instance, it was a very balanced game where Victoria Dunlap had 22 but she didn't play particularly very well until later. Then she benefits greatly from having someone like Brittany Henderson who can come in and get productive minutes. Whether it is nine, five or 14 minutes, those are crucial minutes that we get production from Brittany and it really helps Victoria. It particularly helps Amber Smith. I think that she is the greatest beneficiary of the depth because when she can be fresh mentally she is one of the best in the league and when she has to pace herself it brings her down a level or two. Crystal Riley has been a tremendous addition there. Having depth is very important for us especially with no bye week."
On A'dia Mathies and her doing the little things...
"It is remarkable to see a freshman function at that level. She has been a lot of fun to coach. She pulled the biggest defensive assignment last night in the top scorer in the league and we didn't hesitate to put her on there. We didn't know what she would do exactly but we knew she would give a good effort. She is doing a really good job."
On how A'dia helps Victoria's game ...
"It helps Victoria in two ways. One, A'dia is a play maker so she can get Victoria the ball in crucial situations. She did it in the Arkansas game when they started to get back into contact with us. A'dia made a couple of passes out of the pick and roll that were huge plays. They might not look big, but they were huge plays. Then, just for Victoria to know that she has a perimeter player that can go get a basket if we need one. We can give the ball to A'dia and have a chance for her to make something happen. I think that it helps Victoria both in her mind and in results out on the court."
On him telling A'dia to be more aggressive and if it is not in her nature to be aggressive ...
"I think that A'dia Mathies is a very unselfish human being. That is a great trait to have. She comes from a family that preached that and thought that and it is good for her personally. On the basketball court, she came in as a freshman and differed to her teammates. That is why I am here, to teach her what to do and give her some encouragement. I don't think that she is a naturally passive player, but as a freshman she needed some prodding. The great thing about her is that she is extremely coachable and very intelligent. If you tell her, `This is what I would like to see you do,' more times than not that is what she is going to do. That is a real credit to her."