UK Hoops Travels to Ole Miss for Monday Night Showcase
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 11/10 University of Kentucky women’s basketball team will open a two-game road stretch on Monday night at Ole Miss, with the game tipping off at 7 p.m. ET from the C.M. Tad Smith Coliseum in Oxford, Miss. The game will be shown live on the SEC Network with Brenda VanLengen and Carol Ross calling the game, as well as the radio call on the UK Sports Network with Neil Price.
|Kentucky at Ole Miss
Monday, Feb. 23 - 7:00 p.m. ET
Game Notes: UK | UM
|TV: SEC Network
Radio: UK Sports Network
Live Video via SEC Network+
The Wildcats are currently in sixth place in the SEC standings with an 8-5 record. With just three regular-season games remaining at Ole Miss, at Arkansas and at home vs. No. 2 South Carolina, Kentucky is looking to secure a first-round bye in the SEC Tournament for the sixth straight season.
The Wildcats have won six straight over the Rebels, including a 64-58 win earlier this season in Lexington. UK has won two straight in Oxford, Miss., the last loss coming in 2009 (69-60).
Kentucky is led by the guard play of Bria Goss, Makayla Epps, Linnae Harper and Jennifer O’Neill. Epps, an All-SEC and Nancy Lieberman Award candidate, currently leads the league in scoring with 17.1 ppg, while O’Neill, a candidate to repeat as the SEC 6th-Woman of the Year, comes off the bench for 13.5 ppg.
Sophomore Makayla Epps has been a key cog in UK’s success since the loss of starting point guard Janee Thompson. Since becoming the starting point guard vs. Florida on Jan. 15, Epps is averaging a team-high 19.9 points to go along with 5.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. Overall, she is the SEC’s second-leading scorer and she ranks fifth in FG percentage (.449). She has scored in double figures in all nine gamessince, including a career-high 42 points vs. Mississippi State.
All-SEC candidates Harper and Goss follow with 12.4 ppg and 10.7 ppg, respectively. Harper should also be considered for the SEC All-Defensive Team as one of the most versatile players in the SEC. She is the only player to rank in the league’s top 10 (SEC games only) in rebounding (7th) and steals (2nd). Standing at just 5-foot-8, Harper is the only player under 5-foot-10 in the top 10 of SEC rebounding statistics and is one of only six players in the NCAA to stand at 5-8 or under and average at least 7.0 rebounds per game.
Fans interested in UK Hoops tickets for its Senior Day game against South Carolina can visit the Joe Craft Center ticket office, go to UKathletics.com, or call the UK ticket office at 1-800-928-CATS. Tickets are also available at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 1-800-745-3000.
Follow UK Hoops on Twitter and Instagram at @UKHoopCats and on Facebook by liking University of Kentucky Women’s Basketball.
Media Opportunity - February 20, 2015
Head Coach Matthew Mitchell
Opening statement …
“Tough game ahead with Ole Miss. We had a real battle with them here in Memorial and they’re fighting for some positioning right now and still have a chance to be .500 in the league, which always translates into some good things for you. We know they’ll be motivated. Really, really tough team to prepare for. Matt (Insell) has them playing extremely hard and he’s just done an amazing job with their turnaround. So tough game for us and we’re going to really put a poor performance behind us last night and focus on getting better defensively today. So actually is good we have an extra day to do that. Looking forward to practice today and really think the players are encouraged and ready to bounce back. That’s what we need to do right now.”
On what stood out from loss to Texas A&M and if there’s a trend in losses …
“Well, there’s two things and one’s on me. I really need to get our half-court defense shored up. And that’s my responsibility from a schematic standpoint I need to get a couple things taken care of there and then the energy is on them and we had a good discussion about that today. You know, over the course of a 35-game season it’s a long season and I just don’t think you can get too weighed down when you sort of hit a little trough like it seems like we’re in. We’ve always found some way to bounce back from that and we have to stay real positive and real encouraging. I have to do a better job coaching and they certainly have to do a better job with their energy and so together we have to work that out and I believe we will.”
On Linnae Harper’s play …
“It just is one of those things you have to persevere and stay with it. She’s worked so hard and stays in the gym, getting extra shots up. I think anytime a scorer goes through a spot where the shots aren’t falling, sometimes you try to work your way out of that and sometimes it doesn’t get you the result you’re looking for. You rush around the basket a little bit. It’s just a tough spot. The open 15-footers, you just have to keep taking them. It would be one thing if she weren’t in the gym and weren’t working at it, but you just persevere, you keep going and one night she’s going to pop open for a bunch of points because people cannot keep playing her the way they’re playing here and get away with that is what I keep telling her. You’re just going to make those 15-footers; you’ve got to settle down and make sure your technique’s right around the basket, but very good player, one of the best players in our league. I think bright days are ahead for her.”
On thinking that this team hasn’t played its best game yet this year …
“I think you have too. All schedules aren’t created equal in the Southeastern Conference and we’ve had a real, real rough stretch. We’ve been asking our team to log a bunch of minutes and play real hard and we’re still here fighting and really excited about our player skills and our talent level and what we can do. As coaches, we have to work hard and put them in positions where they can be successful. We need to work hard. A lot of it’s on me. I don’t know what other approach you can take other than stop believing – and I won’t stop that. I won’t stop believing in this team. What’s great about basketball is that if you can get it right at the end of the year, that’s the best time to get it right. I am very optimistic that we can help our players do a better job defensively and we are going to work at that today. I would agree with Linnae Harper. That gives you some optimistic mindset as you move forward. It’s like I told them today, there’s only a certain amount of things I can control in regards to their effort and their energy. I create the environment. I can punish them and try and scare them into playing hard, but I always think the fear factor is very temporary and I think that the onus is on them to play energetic and with a lot of passion. When I showed them the tape today, it was not hard to see that we didn’t play well last night. That can’t be acceptable to any of us and the only thing you can do today is pick your head back up and go back at it and make sure it’s a Kentucky-type atmosphere.”
On Crishae Rowe not being on the bench last night …
“She’s having some tightness in her back just trying to work her way back. She was not in shape when she got here, so she’s had some academic things going on as far as responsibilities and some treatment. Instead of sitting on the bench, she’s going to her tutors and things that are regularly scheduled on these night games. We’re trying to make sure she gets off to a great start here academically and we’re trying to get her in shape. She’s getting ready to practice today and progressing and we’re making sure that she gets a good foundation here.”
On what they need to do against Ole Miss better in game two than they did in first meeting …
“It was great last night. We had last night, and we knew we had a long day ahead of us just to try and figure out what went on. So we watched the A&M game, and then we popped the Ole Miss game in and our energy level – we didn’t do everything right that day, and we weren’t just fantastic on offense, but we played much more energetic than we did last night. That was good for the players to see. That’s how you need to play. You’re going to have to guard dribble-penetration. They were very aggressive. I think if Matt looks at the tape from last night, he’ll think we have a huge opportunity to drive on us. We didn’t stay in front of anybody last night. I think they will be very aggressive driving the ball, really aggressive on the offensive glass, (Tia) Faleru is one of the best players in the league and she just creates a lot of havoc. We did a decent job on her. She only had three offensive boards last time, so we need to get back there and box out and rebound better. It’ll be a tough game. A tough, tough, tough game. I know they’ll be motivated playing at home and we will have to play real hard and real well.”