UK Hoops Meets Gamecocks in Regular-Season Finale
Feb. 28, 2009
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky women's basketball team looks to snap a two-game losing streak and end the regular season on an upswing when it takes on South Carolina in the Colonial Life Arena Sunday, March 1 at 3 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Radio Network and FSN South.
“The game against South Carolina game is going to be tough,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “They are a tough team that plays hard, physical and causes havoc with their defense. They are unpredictable on defense and they also play aggressive defensively. It will be a tough task but we will work hard in practice today and tomorrow to prepare.”
The Wildcats (14-14, 4-9 Southeastern Conference) have secured the No. 10 seed heading into the SEC Tournament next week in North Little Rock, Ark. They will face the No. 7 seed that is still to be determined in the first round Thursday, March 5 at 3:30 p.m. EST.
UK has had its fair share of close games this season. The last two games (vs. LSU and Georgia) were decided by a combined 2.5 points and all together 17 of 28 games, including 10 of 13 conference matchups, have been decided by 10 points or less this season. UK went 7-10 in those close contests.
“I think if you polled the rest of the coaches they would say it's possible for Kentucky to get hot and win the SEC tournament,” Mitchell said. “We aren't going to be the favorite to win the tournament but it's a possible scenario. We will go down to the tournament with the expectations of winning. That's what makes the next two days important and especially Sunday's game at South Carolina. A strong performance Sunday could give us some momentum. We still have a chance.”
The Cats are led in scoring and rebounding by All-SEC candidate Victoria Dunlap (Nashville, Tenn.). The 6-1 sophomore, who also has established herself as a top contender for SEC Defensive Player of the Year, leads the SEC and ranks 45 th nationally in rebounding (9.3 rpg) and ranks in the league's top 15 in steals (1.6) and blocks (1.2). She averages a team-high 12.5 points per game and has 10 double-doubles this season (second-most in the SEC), including two in a row. All-SEC nominee Eleia Roddy (Columbus, Ohio), the SEC leader in double-doubles with 11, follows with 12.2 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.
The Gamecocks, the SEC Tournament's No. 11 seed, are 10-16 overall and 2-11 in SEC play after falling at Florida (66-82) and Mississippi State (41-58) last week. Their two conference wins came against Ole Miss on Jan. 22 behind a 31-point performance from senior guard Brionna Dickerson and vs. Alabama on Feb. 15. Unfortunately, Dickerson, along with fellow senior Demetress Adams, are out for the season with knee injuries.
In the absence of Dickerson and Adams, freshman Lakeisha Sutton is the team's leading scorer with 11.2 ppg. The leading rebounder is C.J. Pace with 5.9 rebounds per game.
Dawn Staley is in her first season at South Carolina after spending eight seasons as the head coach at Temple.
Sunday will mark the 42nd meeting in the all-time series vs. South Carolina. UK owns a 25-16 lead overall, but trails 7-11 when the game is played in Columbia. UK has won two of the last three times in South Carolina, including a 66-62 win last season. UK took a resounding 61-47 victory over the Gamecocks in the squads' first meeting in Lexington on Feb. 5.