UK Hoops Closes Regular Season on Sunday at Memorial

Feb. 28, 2015

LEXINGTON, Ky. - The No. 13/15 University of Kentucky women's basketball team concludes its regular season slate of games on Sunday afternoon at 5 p.m. ET as it plays host to No. 2 South Carolina at a nearly sold out Memorial Coliseum in a game that will be shown live on ESPN2 with Tiffany Greene and Gail Goestenkors.

Gameday Central
Senior Night
Kentucky vs. South Carolina
Sunday, Mar. 1 - 5:00 p.m. ET
Lexington, Ky.
Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader | USC Get Acrobat Reader
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Coverage
Radio: UK Sports Network
Live Video via WatchESPN
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UK is currently locked in as a top-six seed in the 2015 Southeastern Conference Tournament to held in Little Rock, Ark., next week. The Wildcats could move up to a No. 4 seed and gain a double-bye in the SEC Tournament for the sixth-straight season with a three-tiered combination of a win over South Carolina, a LSU loss to Texas A&M and an Ole Miss win over Mississippi State.

Kentucky looks to win its sixth straight game on "Senior Night" and chart its first regular-season win over the Gamecocks since winning 78-74 in Memorial on Feb. 14, 2013.

The Wildcats got back on the winning track Thursday at Arkansas, using their stifling defense to hold the Razorbacks to a season-low 26.8 percent shooting and just 51 points. Three of UK's seniors spoiled Arkansas' "Senior Night" as Azia Bishop netted a team-high 12 points followed by 11 points each from Goss and O'Neill. The win snapped the Cats' three-game losing skid and gave them their fifth straight win over the Razorbacks.

UK is led by the guard play of Goss, Makayla Epps, Linnae Harper and O'Neill this season. Epps, an All-SEC and Nancy Lieberman Award candidate, currently leads the league in scoring (SEC-only games with 15.1 ppg, while O'Neill, a candidate to repeat as the SEC 6th-Woman of the Year, follows Epps with 13.3 ppg. All-SEC candidates Harper and Goss follow with 12.3 ppg and 10.5 ppg, respectively.

Single-game reserved tickets are available at a cost of $9 for all ages for UK Hoops' Senior Day vs. South Carolina. General admission tickets for adults are $8 while single-game general admission tickets for seniors and children (ages 6-18, 65 and over) are only $5.

Children ages five and under are admitted free in the general admission seating area and UK students, faculty and staff are admitted free with valid identification.

Fans interested in UK Hoops tickets 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 atwww.ticketmaster.comor 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.

Head Coach Matthew Mitchell Media Opportunity - February 27, 2015

Opening statement ...
"We are excited for the game and excited for Senior Day. The seniors have had a great week and in my mind have really solidified their standing in this program and how they'll be remembered for the job they did this week. Not just winning the game last night, but the responsibility that they took on and the passion that they have for the program and the insight that they gave me to help coach the team better. I'm really, really proud of these four seniors. So Jelleah (Sidney), Jen (O'Neill), Bria (Goss) and Azia (Bishop) have made unbelievable contributions to the program and I really appreciate the fans for getting this thing to a sellout. It's always a special day in Memorial (Coliseum) for Senior Day. We'll be motivated. We have a terrific opponent. South Carolina is a tremendous team. They're very, very gifted and athletic and tough. I feel really good about our players and our mindset right now and how we will approach the preparation for the game. That's what I'll be asking them, just prepare well so we can prepare for a victory on Sunday."

On how much his team just needed a win on Thursday night ...
"Well, I'll be honest with you. We have some physical struggles going on. We're not real healthy right now and so I wasn't even concerned with the victory. Now, it's great that we did, but what had gone on the previous couple of days, where the seniors got together and said `Hey coach, this is what is happening. This is what we have to correct.' Only things that players would know. There are some things that players are going to know that coaches just don't know about. Things that are going on in the locker room, things that are slipping here and you need to correct or whatever it may be. Last night we were playing hard and we were playing with a lot of purpose and shots weren't falling. I wasn't real worked up about the outcome last night. I'm really confident that the issues we addressed this week are finally getting us to where we can be our best. The seniors have been working at it and finally the seniors said "Hey coach, you've got to get in here and get a couple things straightened out'. So we just have to get more focused and more of a sense of purpose. Things like that. Nothing bad, just some things behind the scenes like that. Some of our young players are not able to focus in, execute and take care of their responsibilities. What had happened the previous couple of days was really more important than the outcome last night. I think it helps us tremendously going forward with our process and how we do things to say `Hey, we really buckled down here and got some things focused in on.' and it did result in a victory, but I was not in a real panic last night over the outcome. We need to get to a spot before the NCAA Tournament where we can get a little bit of rest and get healed up and see if we can get back to being the really dynamic team that we can be. In the meantime, I think Sunday gives you a great time to get into this building and some sense of purpose for the seniors with an electric atmosphere, maybe can get a shot of adrenaline and play the way that we need to play, but I was happy to get the win, but I wasn't overly concerned with the outcome if that makes sense."

On the post players last night and vs. South Carolina ...
"We did some good things last night. We really did. You just have to make South Carolina work. They are the most talented team in our league in the post. There is no question about it. They're just very, very gifted, talented and versatile in the post and so you have to make them work. You can't go talent-for-talent. You've really got to execute properly, and so we'll look for a great competition from our young posts just too really compete in the game and they're capable of that and they need to execute well. We need to take good shots, we don't need to take quick shots that you can get later in the possession. We need to play with some focus and some responsibility here on Sunday and I thought we had some good stretches in the game offensively, where our post players were patient and able to make some plays, so we'll look for that on Sunday. So the first thing we have to do is really compete and they've got to try and get the pace where we need to have it for a Kentucky game."

On what he will remember from this senior class ...
"I'll just remember Tuesday night when they came to my house and let me know what I needed to do. They also let me know what the program has meant to them, and you couldn't have tripled my bank account or bought me a new car or sent me on a vacation or anything that would have been worth what Tuesday night was. No matter what happens going forward, what happened in that meeting - that solidified their legacy to me. They really, really did a great job and helped me out tremendously. They've accomplished a lot, they're champions. They won an SEC Championship here and a ton of games and been to an Elite Eight and a Sweet 16, so they've accomplished a lot on the court, but what they did on Tuesday night was more valuable than anything they could have ever done. They were not only concerned about this season and how we finished, but they were concerned about us going forward and what our young players needed to learn right now so a year from now they would know what to do and how we needed to be. To me, that summed it up for them. So now we are really motivated to try and finish strong, and I think we are capable of that."

On who decided to meet at his house on Tuesday night ...
"They called the meeting. It was 100 percent them. We've been coaching hard and working hard and trying to get them to execute different things, so they called the meeting. It was a real disappointing loss Monday night at Ole Miss and they really acted the way that I would want Kentucky players to act. I'm real appreciative of that."

On the senior class' accomplishments ...
"We've had some great seniors here. It's funny how the evolution of the program has gone. Nobody has ever quite been in this position as seniors where we have just been decimated by injuries, we've been real young, all of these different combinations. They started calling the games differently last year and this year, and so we've kind of been evolving as a program, so it was a unique situation. We haven't been in the spot that we are in, but that's not to take anything away from previous seniors, but how they feel about their experience here, how they feel about how the program has benefited them, how they want to benefit the program, that's special stuff."

On what they addressed in the meeting and what needed to be fixed in their minds ...
"It's just the lack of focus and how we were off the court in attention to detail. As a coach, you're trying to give your players the ability to grow up and be adults and do what they need to do and learn. You don't want to be such a taskmaster all of the time, but that's what this particular group needed right now, kind of down in a funk and on a downward spiral. They basically said hey, listen if you don't step in here and really shake this thing up and let people know this is a serious deal, I don't think it's going to change. Nobody was acting up, nobody was acting ugly, nobody was out late at night partying, it was just young kids lacking focus. We need to mature as a basketball team and I needed to take a greater role of how the structure of the day has unfolded. So it's not anything earthshattering, I just think it's more powerful. At this point of the season they could have just said hey, I'm out the door here in 30 days and I've had a good run. We've done all these things I've just mentioned to you, we've won the SEC and we've been a championship-caliber program and just rolled off into the sunset, but they care enough to say hey coach we need a little bit more structure, we need to get focused. It was more just them of taking that simple act of responsibility and telling me exactly what I needed to know. That's what was so special about it."