No. 7 UK Hoops Looks for First win in Thompson-Boling Arena

Feb. 10, 2012

LEXINGTON, Ky. – No. 7/7 Kentucky women’s basketball has been making history all season, and hopes to continue re-writing the record books Monday. The Wildcats are looking for their first-ever win in Thompson-Boling Arena, and first win in Knoxville since 1985 when they meet No. 11/11 Tennessee at 7 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on ESPN2 and is the first women's collegiate basketball game in 3D as part of ESPN's Big Monday Presented by Bud Light and Play 4Kay telecast.

Gameday
Gameday Information
Kentucky at Tennessee
Mon., Feb. 13 - 7:00 p.m. ET
Knoxville, Tenn.
Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader | UT Get Acrobat Reader
Coverage
TV: ESPN2
Radio: UK IMG
GameTracker
Live Video via WatchESPN
Live Audio
Live Blog
Twitter
Text Updates

The Wildcats, who defeated the Lady Vols earlier this season in Lexington 61-60 and sit atop of the Southeastern Conference standings at 10-1, have their sights set on winning their first SEC regular season championship since 1982. The Cats (21-3, 10-1 SEC) are just one win away from tying the most SEC wins in school history at 11, and their four SEC road wins are two shy of tying the school record of six set in 2005-06.

“We have a game on Monday vs. Tennessee that will be really tough,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “We had a great game with them here at Memorial (Coliseum). Obviously we were real fortunate to come out on top in that one. We learned a lot from that game and we are working hard to try to make some corrections that didn’t go well in that game and just get as prepared as we can for what we know will be a very, very tough challenge for our team. We are excited about it, we are looking forward to it and we will see what happens on Monday.”

Kentucky’s 21-3 start ties its best start in program history. Kentucky also started 21-3 in 1982-83. UK set three school records of consecutive regular-season conference wins (13), consecutive SEC wins to begin a season (10) and consecutive SEC road wins (6) before falling at LSU last week.

Leading the way for the Wildcats is junior All-America and SEC Player of the Year candidate A’dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.). Mathies leads the team in almost every statistical category, including scoring (15.1), steals (2.8) and 3-point field goal percentage (.371). She is also second on the team in rebounding (5.3), assists (2.6), blocks (0.7) and 3-point field goals made (39). SEC Freshman of the Year contender Bria Goss (Indianapolis) follows in the scoring column with 11.4 ppg. She has scored in double digits in two of the last three games, and she leads the team in charges taken with 15. Sophomore forward Samarie Walker (West Carrollton, Ohio) is the leading rebounder with 6.3 rebounds per game.

UK ranks in the top 10 of four national statistical categories, including leading the nation in turnover margin (+11.9). The Cats have forced at least 20 turnovers in 20 games this season, including a school-record high in SEC play of 36 vs. Ole Miss.

Tennessee (17-7, 8-3 SEC) enters Monday’s contest coming off a 79-93 loss at intrastate foe Vanderbilt. The Lady Vols were led by sophomore guard Meighan Simmons’ team-high 20 points. Freshman forward Cierra Burdick led Tennessee on the glass with nine boards. Freshman guard Ariel Massengale had seven assists and just two turnovers in the loss.

Senior guard/forward Shekinna Stricklen is the Lady Vols’ leading scoring, averaging 14.9 points per game. Forward Glory Johnson, a graduate student, is the leading rebounder for Tennessee, pulling down 9.3 rebounds to go with her 13.8 points per game average. In all, Tennessee has six players averaging 8.0 or more points.

This is the 57th meeting between the border rivals, the 23rd in Knoxville. UK has met UT more times than any other rival. The Lady Vols lead the overall record 48-8, including a 20-2 advantage in Knoxville. UT has won the last 15 meetings in Thompson-Boling Arena over the Cats. UK’s last win in Knoxville was Jan. 23, 1985 in the Stokely Athletics Center. UK has never won in Thompson-Boling Arena.

The game also can be heard live on the UK IMG Sports Radio Network or www.UKathletics.com with Neil Price calling the action. Fans can follow the UK Hoops team on Twitter at @UKHoopCats and use #UKHoops to comment on the game.

Pre-Tennessee Media Opportunity - Feb. 10, 2012

Opening statement …
“We have a game on Monday vs. Tennessee that will be really tough. We had a great game with them here at Memorial (Coliseum). Obviously we were real fortunate to come out on top in that one. We learned a lot from that game and we are working hard to try to make some corrections that didn’t go well in that game and just get as prepared as we can for what we know will be a very, very tough challenge for our team. We are excited about it, we are looking forward to it and we will see what happens on Monday.”

On Tennessee’s loss to Vanderbilt Thursday night …
“I watched the game from a preparation standpoint and a coaching standpoint. We watched it as a staff live, but we were rewinding it and breaking it down as the game went on. At the end, I was just trying to think of some things that we could do well against them, some things that we are going to have to do well against them. I think anyone would be lying if they were to say that was not a good development for us. I mean, you want as much separation as you can have. I was watching the game trying to get ready for it, and I think need to go down there and be prepared to win and go down there are try to do the best we can to win.”

On if the time off after the loss has been good for his team …
“I think it was good for our players, bad for me. I hate to lose and hate to have that much time between (games). I would have liked to get back on the floor and start correcting some things, but you have to have some discipline as a coach, it can’t be about you. The players have done an unbelievable job through 11 games to get to 10-1. It was great, and they needed a little time off, so I think it was really good for them. We had some good work yesterday. The great thing about us right now is we have a chance to get better. We are not operating at a real high level offensively right now. I think that is something that we can improve on. So, to be at this stage in the season, and be in the position we are in, and still have a chance of getting better is a real positive thing. I hated being off, but it was good for our players.”

On the LSU loss and what happened …
“We got into a game that happens every now and again where we are unable to control the tempo. That is complete credit to LSU because I am certain that many teams want to do that. They did a terrific job of making us win the game from an area of where we were not strong. They got us out of our strengths and we still had a chance had we been able to execute offensively. We did not throw the ball where it needed to go offensively where we could score. That’s what I learned, and that’s where we needed to do better. It was a great game to watch to see exactly how much improvement we actually can make. We are getting to that point in the season where everyone is desperate and hungry for wins. Everybody we play needs to win, we need to win, coaches now have larger volume of games to watch and figure out how to stop us and so it was real positive for us right now that we had that challenge, and what we can learn from it getting better offensively can really help us.”

On A’dia Mathies’ performances in recent games …
“I think that she has a hard time sometimes dealing with acceptance. I think she just needs to accept sometimes that there is very little she can do about how the referees are going to call (the game). Sunday afternoon to Sunday afternoon; Thursday night to Thursday night, you’re bringing three different human beings into a situation, so sometimes it is called differently than others. The rules are applied differently than others. They can’t see everything that is going on, so if someone is pulling you and tugging and you and roughing you up a little bit, they can’t see everything. You have to trust that the officials are going to see enough of what’s going on, and she just gets so worked up at times about the physical play, and you just have to let it go. There is nothing I can do to make the officials call every single play. It is not humanly possible to catch everything, but A’dia feels every push, and pull, and tug, and so she has to do a better job of dealing with that. That is how people are going to play her. They are going to try to get her out of her game. That is a great opportunity for her. She went 0-for-7 in the first half, she came back and she went 5-for-7. That’s a positive development. It’s just a tough league. It’s good defense’s. It’s good coaching. I think she is having a fantastic year. I think she is the best player in the league. I think she is a great player, and I don’t think she is in a slump at all.”