Cats Begin Two-game Road Swing at Georgia
Feb. 16, 2011
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The 19th-ranked Kentucky women’s basketball team begins its two-game road swing at Georgia on Thursday, Feb. 17 when the Wildcats take on the Lady Bulldogs in Stegeman Coliseum. Game time is 7 p.m. EST as it will be televised on FSN with Dave Neal and Debbie Antonelli calling the action. It also will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network with Neil Price. . In addition, the game will be available nationally on the ESPN Full Court package and ESPN3.com as well as UKAthletics.com.
Just four games remain in regular-season play and Kentucky’s road to receiving its second consecutive first-round bye in the Southeastern Conference Tournament won’t be an easy one. Three of its next four games are away from the friendly confines of Memorial Coliseum, including road contests at Georgia (second in the SEC) and Vanderbilt (tied for third with UK).
“This is a big game for the conference race right now,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “We are a game behind Georgia in the loss column. If we are going to try to gain some ground, and if we are going to be one of the top teams in the conference, we need this game. They (Georgia) were very, very tough against us here in Lexington. They are having a great season. They are well coached and they have great players so it will be a tough challenge for us in Athens.”
The Cats (19-6, 8-4 SEC) are looking to build off the momentum of their last game after defeating LSU in Lexington for the first time since 1994. UK held LSU to just 47 points and 29.5 percent shooting, including a mere 20.0 percent in the second half (4-of-20). Sophomore All-SEC candidate A’dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.) led the winning effort with 16 points, including 11 in the second half while adding a game-high four steals. She also fed sophomore forward Brittany Henderson (Pasadena, Calif.) the game-winning shot with 1.1 seconds remaining in the game. Senior All-America candidate Victoria Dunlap (Nashville, Tenn.) added 15 points, three blocks and three steals for her 13 consecutive game in double figures.
Overall, Dunlap continues to prove why she was the overwhelming choice for preseason SEC Player of the Year as she ranks in the top five of eight statistical league categories, including leading the conference in scoring (17.2) and steals (3.2). Mathies follows in the scoring and rebounding column with 13.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.
Georgia is 19-6 overall, 9-3 in SEC play after defeating Ole Miss on the road Sunday in Oxford, 61-56. The Lady Bulldogs have won three of their last four games with the only loss coming at home vs. Vanderbilt (69-59). It was UGA’s first home loss of the season.
Two players average in double digits led by sophomore Jasmine James (11.9) and senior Porsha Phillips (11.0). Sophomore Jasmine Hassell follows close behind with 9.4 ppg. Phillips is the team’s leading rebounder with 10.3 rebounds per game which ranks second in the SEC.
UGA leads the all-time series 33-12, including a 15-3 advantage in Athens. UK’s last win in Stegeman Coliseum came in 2008 when the Wildcats upset No. 17/14 Georgia on Jan. 31 (47-44).
The Wildcats fell in the SEC opener to the Lady Bulldogs in Lexington, 61-59, on Jan. 9 paced by Georgia’s Khaalidah Miller who scored a career-high 24 points. Dunlap led the Cats with 17 points, including 15 in the second half.
Head Coach Matthew Mitchell Pregame Press Conference Quotes
“Well, this is a big game for the conference race right now. We are a game behind Georgia in the loss column. If we are going to try to gain some ground, and if we are going to be one of the top teams in the conference, we need this game. They (Georgia) were very, very tough against us here in Lexington. They are having a great season. They are well coached and they have great players so it will be a tough challenge for us in Athens.”
On his relationship with Georgia head coach Andy Landers…
“We have a good relationship. Coach (Andy) Landers and I have gotten to know each other over the years. He has been very good to me. He has been nice enough to share some wisdom with me along the way and he has a lot of it. (Andy Landers) is someone I respect and admire. He has been really good to me in my career.”
On the importance of winning this game in order to get a bye in the SEC Tournament…
“If you look back in the history of (postseason) tournaments, I just think it’s really hard to win it if you don’t get that bye. Auburn did it one time and that’s the only one that I’m aware of. It’s hard to win. It’s one of the toughest tournaments anywhere to win. So, every advantage you can give yourself is important. It’s crucial that we get that bye and give us every advantage we can to win the tournament.”
On if he thinks his team will be prepared at Georgia…
“I think we will be prepared. The first game we played seemed so long ago. Both teams have evolved and both teams are probably different than they were that second conference game of the season. We both have had a pretty good run since that game and I think when we play a team twice, the second match-up is always interesting and we are about to enter that phase the last four games of the year. I haven’t been able to find any particular advantages in the second match-up for either side. It just depends on how your team is playing at that time. If anything, it’s just going to be familiarity of personnel. They know what the speed of the game is going to be like. I don’t know how much the first match-up has to do with this game.”
On the last Georgia game sparking A’dia Mathies becoming the point guard…
“That week, when we lost three games in a row, we didn’t have a lot of time, or I didn’t want to look at a lot of film (from those losses at Duke and Arkansas), and so all three of those losses, all of them had to do with difficulties and breakdowns. That was the last game of those three and we had not played particularly good offense. Georgia had a lot to do with that. But, just coming out of that game, we weren’t moving very well, we weren’t moving the basketball, the freshmen were really struggling at the point (guard). So, that was certainly a catalyst in us changing.”
On how different the two teams are after the first meeting…
“We aren’t totally different. We have the same players. We are just executing a little bit better. After watching that game and then watching Georgia play, I think Georgia is a lot better as well. It was such an early game in the schedule and I think both teams have had a chance to improve. We are better in half-court execution and scoring in transition.”