UK Hoops Plays Host to Central Michigan Sunday

Nov. 15, 2013



LEXINGTON, Ky. – No. 7/8 Kentucky women’s basketball looks to begin its season at 4-0 for the first time since 2011-12 and fourth time in the Matthew Mitchell era when the Wildcats play host to first-time opponent Central Michigan in the third annual “Terry Hall Memorial Classic” on Sunday, Nov. 17 at 2 p.m. ET in Memorial Coliseum. The game will be televised live on the UK IMG Sports Television Network and Fox Sports South. Fans can also listen to the UK IMG Sports Radio Network with Neil Price or follow Twitter updates on @UKHoopCats.

Gameday
Kentucky vs. Central Michigan
Sun., Nov. 17 - 2:00 p.m. ET
Lexington, Ky.
Fan Guide
Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader | CMU Get Acrobat Reader
Coverage
TV: FSN/UK IMG
Radio: UK IMG
Gameday Live: Live stats, audio, blog, and social media
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Single-game reserved tickets cost of $9 for all ages. 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. UK faculty, staff and children ages five and under are admitted free in the general admission seating area, while supplies last. Season tickets are also still available for just $65. Lower-level chair back seating ($80) is sold out.

Kentucky created the “Terry Hall Memorial Classic” in 2011-12 to honor the former all-time winningest coach in UK Hoops history, Terry Hall.

“We are excited for Sunday’s game, the ‘Terry Hall Memorial Classic’,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “We started this three years ago to honor Coach Hall, who really showed us what was possible here at Kentucky. She won a bunch of games here had great teams here in the early 80s. I always looked at the success they had as a real great example of what could happen here. I really appreciate Coach Hall’s contributions and we’re happy to have a game that honors her.”

Coach Hall coached the Cats to seven consecutive winning seasons from 1980-87, charting a 138-66 overall record (67.7%). She now owns the second-most wins and second-best winning percentage behind Matthew Mitchell. She started with a 25-6 record in 1980-81 and a trip to the second round of the AIAW national tournament before falling by one point to Maryland. The NCAA welcomed women’s basketball into its ranks the following year, and that historical season ended with the Cats falling to eventual national champion Louisiana Tech in the Midwest Regional finals on the Lady Techsters’ home floor. After the Cats failed to make the NCAA tournament in 1986-87, Hall left coaching for the business sector. But three years later, she accepted the head coaching job at Wright State University, where she coached for seven years before succumbing to cancer in 1997.

The Wildcats (3-0) are coming off a dominating win over Georgia Southern in their home opener on Wednesday morning. Six players scored in double figures as the Wildcats defeated the Eagles, 103-38. The 65-point win ranks as the seventh largest margin of victory in school history. In the win, UK set season highs in points (103), rebounds (49), assists (26), steals (24), turnovers forced (35), field goal percentage (50.6), points in the paint (54) and bench points (58). 

Senior Bernisha Pinkett (Washington, D.C.) came off the bench and scored a game- and season-high 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field. She finished two points shy of her career high which she set on Nov. 28, 2012 vs. Miami (Ohio). Senior Kastine Evans (Salem, Conn.) netted a season-high tying 15 points, while seniors DeNesha Stallworth (Richmond, Calif.) and Samarie Walker (West Carrollton, Ohio) added 13 and 12 points, respectively.  Junior Azia Bishop (Toledo, Ohio) came off the bench for her second career double-double with 10 points and a career-high 12 rebounds in just 15 minutes of action and freshman Linnae Harper (Chicago) scored a career-high 13 points.

Overall, Stallworth leads the Wildcats in scoring with 13.3 points per game, Evans and junior guard Bria Goss (Indianapolis) follow with 13.7 and 10.7 points per game, respectively. Walker is the team’s leading rebounder with 8.3 rebounds per game.

Located in Mount Pleasant, Mich., Central Michigan is 1-0 after winning its season opener at Massachusetts last week, 105-61. Niki DiGuilio led the team with 20 points and Jas’Mine Bracey and Kerby Tamm each recorded double-doubles.

Junior guard Crystal Bradford is the team’s leading returning scorer after averaging 16.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per game as a sophomore. She did not play in the team’s season opener vs. UMass due to a violation of team rules but is set to see action vs. the Wildcats.

The Chippewas went 21-12 last season, including a 12-4 mark in the Mid-American Conference and champions of the MAC Tournament, earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

CMU returns 10 letterwinners and three starters off last season’s squad. The Chippewas were a unanimous choice to win the MAC West title and received nine of 12 votes to repeat at the MAC Tournament by the coaches in the leagues’ preseason poll.

“It’s going to be a very tough game. Central Michigan is coming back this season after a very good season last year when they were an NCAA Tournament team,” Mitchell said. “Their best player, Crystal Bradford, is a dynamic Southeastern Conference-type player, very, very athletic, skilled and can make all the plays that you need made. She’s a handful and they love to play up-tempo. They scored 105 in their first game on the road, so they really look to push in transition. We might have some fireworks going off in Memorial on Sunday afternoon. It will be a good game for everyone to come out and see and it will be a tough test and we’ll have to prepare well to win.”

Sunday will mark the first meeting between the teams. However, Kentucky is 30-4 all-time vs. teams from the Chippewas’ Mid-American Conference.

The Wildcats have now won 13 straight regular season non-conference games and 39 straight regular season games vs. non-conference opponents at home. The Cats own a 373-141 (72.5) mark in Memorial Coliseum, including an 83-13 (86.4) record under Matthew Mitchell.

For parking information please see attached map or visit www.ukathletics.com/wbbgameday.

Media Opportunity - November 15, 2013

Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening Statement…
“We are excited for Sunday’s game, the Terry Hall Memorial Classic. We started this three years ago to honor Coach Hall, who really showed us what was possible here at Kentucky. She won a bunch of games here had great teams here in the early 80s. I always looked at the success they had as a real great example of what could happen here. I really appreciate Coach Hall’s contributions and we’re happy to have a game that honors her. It’s going to be a very tough game. Central Michigan is coming back this season after a very good season last year when they were an NCAA Tournament team. Their best player, Crystal Bradford, is a dynamic SEC-type player, very, very athletic, skilled and can make all the plays that you need made. She’s a handful and they love to play up-tempo. They scored 105 in their first game on the road, so they really look to push in transition. We might have some fireworks going off in Memorial on Sunday afternoon. It will be a good game for everyone to come out and see and it will be a tough test. We’ll have to prepare well to win.”

On where the team is three games into the season…
“I think we’re in a good spot. Right now what we’re talking to the team about is really practicing at a high level every single day. We depend so much on our entire roster and we depend so much on everybody that can play this season. For purposes of timing and rhythm and cohesiveness, we have to have a maximum effort from everyone in practice each and every day. I think if we’ll do that we’ll win a bunch of games this year and we’ll have a chance to meet all our goals and be a championship basketball team. That is easier to talk about than to actually do. We’re really focused on our practice habits right now. I think we’ve got a team that can play great defense and can score a bunch of points, so we’re in a great position of opportunity to be very, very good this year and they’re working at it. We just need to raise our level of practice habits each and every day.”

On the team dishing out 26 assists against Georgia Southern, which was the most in the Mitchell era…
“It was a good day and we’ve been working really hard, offensively, trying to get to a spot where we can create good shots for each other. We’re so athletic and so explosive that we’re able to get the ball in the paint and that causes some problems for (opposing) teams. You see a lot of opportunities where you’re able to draw the defense and then kick it to an open player, so two people have to guard one and that gives you a chance to give it to someone else to score. The best thing out of the game on Wednesday was that we didn’t play the scoreboard. We didn’t play to the score, we tried to play at a real high level. We weren’t perfect, there are certainly things we can work on, but our effort was pretty good. When you see a stat like 26 assists it shows you they are trying to move the ball and trying to get things done correctly. From that standpoint, we feel like we have a lot of ability to grow offensively and we’ll just keep working in practice every day to get that done.”

On having a dominant inside scoring threat this season with the post players…
“I think from a coach’s standpoint it is comforting to have a lot of options offensively and to have a team that so far has not been concerned at all with who is scoring or who is getting the credit or who gets the basket. Bria Goss had 17 against Wagner and I think she had five against Georgia Southern, but you couldn’t really tell anything different about her after the game because she just wants to win and help her teammates. That’s the kind of team we have and our inside presence is very formidable. For so many years we played with basically four guards and just the nature of how the team was constructed, you didn’t have a lot of inside presence. That has definitely changed with this team and if you don’t guard us inside you are probably going to pay. I think to compete at the highest level you need a good inside presence and you need to be able to get into the paint to score. I just think against the really, really top teams that is going to be important. We’re excited about that part of our team and we just want to do develop it.”

On if he has a good understanding of the personnel he has after three games into the season…
“I think the opening game against Marist in that kind of atmosphere gave you a greater indication of what we may have than if we’d opened up here at home and really put it to somebody. We’re pretty clear on what we have and it’s a pretty proven bunch except for Linnae (Harper) and Makayla (Epps). Everybody has at some point in their career shown us what they can do. I do feel like I have a pretty good pulse on what we can be, we’re not there yet. Three games in I think this can be a good team. I hate to belabor the point, but it’s just a fact, this season is going to come down to the kind of relationship our players have with practice. That will tell the whole story and that is probably just mind-numbingly boring to talk about, but that’s just the fact. If this bunch will fall in love with practice, they will be an outstanding team, so we have to keep that going.”