Cats Travel to Auburn for Regular-Season Finale
Feb. 26, 2011
LEXINGTON, Ky. – No. 20 Kentucky travels to Auburn for the final regular-season game of the 2010-11 season when it takes on the Tigers Sunday, Feb. 27 at 2 p.m. EST in the new Auburn Arena. The game will be televised on the SEC Network with Cara Capuano and Abby Waner calling the action. It also will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network with Neil Price and will available nationally on the ESPN Full Court package and ESPN3.com.
With Florida upsetting Vanderbilt on Friday night, UK (21-7, 10-5 Southeastern Conference) has clinched its second consecutive first-round bye in the SEC Tournament to be held in Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on March 3-6. Sunday’s matchups will determine the seedings. The scenario for Kentucky looks like this: if Georgia wins at Florida, UGA is the No. 2 seed and UK is No. 3. If UK defeats Auburn and Georgia falls at Florida, UK is the No. 2 seed and UGA is No. 3.
“We have come to the end of our regular-season conference play and I would really like to finish strong here with a very important game against Auburn,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “Auburn had a great win on the road against Georgia and it will be their ‘Senior Day.’ Alli Smalley is a player that has had a terrific career there and I know that they will be very motivated on ‘Senior Day.’ We didn’t have a lot of success down there last year at the end of the season, so we will need to go down with great focus and understanding of what we need to get done to finish strong. I think it would be a very, very significant win for us if we could finish out with a win over Auburn.”
The Cats are riding a two-game winning streak after a hard-fought win over Vanderbilt in Memorial Gym last Sunday (their first since 1986) and a thrilling last-second victory over Arkansas on “Senior Night” Thursday.
Trailing by as many five points with 2:01 remaining, Kentucky was able to do what it does best - get defensive stops. The Cats forced three turnovers in the two minutes and super sophomore A'dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.) hit the game-winning layup with 4.4 seconds remaining, giving UK a 55-54 win over Arkansas in the final home game for seniors Victoria Dunlap (Nashville, Tenn.) and Carly Morrow (Lookout Mountain, Ky.). Mathies recorded a team-high 17 points and nine rebounds while Dunlap, SEC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year candidate, added 12 points and game-high four steals. Sophomore Brittany Henderson (Pasadena, Calif.) rounded out the double-digit column with 10 points.
Overall, Dunlap continues to prove why she was the overwhelming choice for preseason SEC Player of the Year as she is the only player in the SEC to rank in the top four in scoring (1st - 16.6), rebounding (4th - 8.8), blocks (1.5) and steals (1st-3.3). Overall, she ranks in the top half of eight statistical categories in the SEC.
Auburn enters Sunday’s game at 15-13 overall, 8-7 in the SEC after picking up its first win over a ranked team of the season, defeating No. 22 Georgia, 63-58, in Athens on Thursday. The win placed Auburn in a tie for fifth in the SEC with LSU and South Carolina. Senior Alli Smalley led the Tigers in the win, scoring a game-high 22 points, including Auburn's final five points of the game. Junior Morgan Jennings and sophomore Blanche Alverson scored 10 points each for the Tigers while freshman Jassany Williams scored eight points with seven rebounds.
Overall, Smalley leads the team with 11.6 points per game, followed by Alverson with 10.9 ppg. Alverson is the team’s leading rebounder with 4.5 boards per game.
Auburn owns a 25-14 lead in the all-time series with Kentucky, including a 10-5 advantage on the Plains. UK has won two in a row over the Tigers but has lost two straight in Auburn. The Cats’ last win over Auburn on the road was Jan. 21, 2007 (68-65) in the Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.
This will mark the second game against Auburn this season. UK won the earlier matchup, 69-38 in Lexington, the largest margin of victory in SEC play in school history.
A UK win will tie the school record for the most SEC wins in a season (11) and most SEC road wins (5).