No. 11 UK Hoops to Face No. 8 Baylor Monday in Rupp Arena

Nov. 16, 2014

LEXINGTON, Ky.  – The No. 11/10 Kentucky women’s basketball team will play host to the No. 8/9 Baylor Lady Bears Monday, Nov. 17 in the opening game of ESPN’s seventh annual College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon. Tip off for the “Pack the House’ game in Rupp Arena is slated for 7 p.m. ET as it will be televised nationally on ESPN2 with Beth Mowins and Carolyn Peck calling the action. It also will be broadcast live on the UK Radio Network with Neil Price.

Gameday Central
Kentucky vs. Baylor
Monday, Nov. 17 - 7:00 p.m. ET
Lexington, Ky. - Rupp Arena
Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader | BU Get Acrobat Reader
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Radio: UK Sports Network
Live Video via WatchESPN
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“We’re very excited for the game tomorrow night,” UK Hoops head coach Matthew Mitchell said. “We just want to first of all thank all the fans that bought tickets. We’ve got a little over 21,000 that bought tickets right now. Boy, we’d love to sprint to the finish and get this thing sold out tomorrow night. It would be a great thing for us. If everybody that has a ticket shows up tomorrow night, it would be an outstanding atmosphere. We appreciate the folks supporting us. It ought to be a great atmosphere for college basketball tomorrow night. We have a big challenge ahead of us, very tough opponent. We have tremendous respect for Baylor. What a great program. They have some really tough players. Well coaches and we know it will be a very tough challenge for us tomorrow night, but we’re looking forward to taking the floor and seeing what we can do.”

Tickets for the game vs. Baylor are available for just $2 on www.ticketmaster.com by using the code “2BUCKS” until Sunday at 11:45 p.m. Fans can also call the UK Ticket Office at (859) 257-1818 to book their seat for the game. Lower level reserved tickets are $9, upper level general admission adults are $8, upper level GA youth (ages 6-18)/seniors (ages 65+) at $5. Groups of 10 or more are also just $2 each in reserved or general admission areas and can be purchased by calling the UK ticket office directly.

UK sold out Rupp Arena a season ago, as a school-record crowd of 23,706 turned up to watch the Wildcats face No. 2 Duke on Dec. 22, 2013. It marked the first sellout for a women’s basketball game in Rupp Arena and it was the largest single-game attendance in the nation last season. Overall, it ranks as the seventh-highest attendance for a regular-season game in NCAA history.

The Wildcats began their 41st season of varsity basketball and year eight of the Mitchell era with a commanding 111-74 win over Appalachian State last Friday. Senior guard Jennifer O'Neill (Bronx, N.Y.) led seven players in double figures with 20 points, while also recording eight rebounds, five assists and four steals. She now only needs five points to reach 1,000 for her career. Sophomore guard Linnae Harper (Chicago) came off the bench for 17 points, while fellow sophomore Makayla Epps (Lebanon, Ky.) added 16 points in a reserve role. Senior Azia Bishop (Toledo, Ohio) added 14 points and a team-high nine rebounds and sophomore Kyvin Goodin-Rogers (Lebanon, Ky.) charted 11 points, six rebounds and a team-high four blocks in her first start and first game back since sitting out last season with a blood clot in her lung. Junior Janee Thompson (Chicago) and freshman Alexis Jennings (Madison, Ala.) scored 10 points apiece.

Nine players, including three starters, return off last season’s 32-5 team that swept its fourth straight Big 12 regular season and tournament crowns. Starters, Sune Agbuke (post), Nina Davis (forward) and Niya Johnson (guard), all return off last season’s NCAA Championship Elite Eight team. Three freshmen were added to the roster for Baylor in Micayla Buckner (6-3 post), Dekeiya Cohen (6-2 forward) and Kristy Wallace (5-11 guard).

Baylor opened its season with a 101-60 win over Oral Roberts on Friday. Davis led Baylor in the win with a double-double (22 points and 10 rebounds). Khadijiah Cave added 19 points, while Imani Wright had 18 points.

Hall of Famer Kim Mulkey is in her 15th season as the head coach at Baylor. She ranks No. 2 among the winningest active Division I head coaches (.825) and No. 4 all-time by percentage.

The Wildcats are 1-2 all-time vs. Baylor after two matchups last season. UK won the first meeting on Dec. 6 in the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Wildcats defeated the ninth-ranked Lady Bears in a four overtime thriller, 133-130. The 263 combined points set a new NCAA record, besting the previous high for a Division I women's game of 252 points in SMU's 127-125 win over TCU, also in four overtimes, on Jan. 25, 1997. The Wildcats also set school records for points (133), free-throws made (49) and free-throws attempted (66). O’Neill came off the bench to net a school-record 43 points on 14-of-31 shooting, netting 33 in the second half and overtime periods. Thompson added a career-high 20 points in the matchup. Baylor came back to defeat the Wildcats on March 29 in the NCAA Tournament Regional Semifinals in South Bend, Ind., 90-72.

All telecasts of the Marathon will also be available through WatchESPN, accessible online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app, and streamed on televisions through Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox 360 or Xbox One to fans who receive their video subscription from an affiliated provider.

Pregame Media Opportunity - November 16, 2014

Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening statement
“We’re very excited for the game tomorrow night. We just want to first of all thank all the fans that bought tickets. We’ve got a little over 21,000 that bought tickets right now. Boy, we’d love to sprint to the finish and get this thing sold out tomorrow night. It would be a great thing for us. If everybody that has a ticket shows up tomorrow night, it would be an outstanding atmosphere. We appreciate the folks supporting us. It ought to be a great atmosphere for college basketball tomorrow night. We have a big challenge ahead of us, very tough opponent. We have tremendous respect for Baylor. What a great program. They have some really tough players. Well coaches and we know it will be a very tough challenge for us tomorrow night, but we’re looking forward to taking the floor and seeing what we can do.”

On playing such a big game so early in the season …
“One terrific pro here is the exposure of the game. It’s early in the season, it’s two of the top rated teams in the country. It’s going to be a great way for us to showcase Kentucky basketball. National television, a sold-out Rupp Arena. That’s just nothing but a positive opportunity for you there. It’s a difficult game for you to play this early just from the standpoint of the way that we build our team, and develop our team. We are not quite sure what we’ll be able to do tomorrow night from a strategic standpoint so you won’t be able to make a lot of adjustments. You can try your best, but it will be certainly a game that you have to win with the things you’ve worked really hard on. We have to make the game up-tempo and fast. We have to make it about the pace of the game. You feel good about that, you’re just still forming execution wise. It won’t be as clean as it will be if we played a month later. But Baylor is in the same boat I think. They’ve had the same amount of time to practice as we have. It just may not be as clean of a game as you might see a bit later in the season, but still very important. It would be very meaningful to win. We will find out where we are right now. It will be fun to take the court in Rupp Arena in front of a packed house. It would be awesome.”

On defending Baylor’s Nina Davis and Baylor’s tempo …
“Nina Davis is just an outstanding basketball player and plays with such a high level of basketball IQ. Just makes great decisions, great passes. I think she is really the glue to that entire basketball team. I just think she is a terrific player and it is going to be very important for us to do a good job against her. And try to do everything we can to make sure that she doesn’t have a monstrous night. She is an outstanding basketball player and she plays so tough. And as far as tempo goes, I doubt seriously that they are afraid of an up-tempo basketball game. They are very aggressive at all times and they have extremely good athletes and they are fast. I think it has the prospects of being up-tempo. We must make it a fast paced game if we want any chance to win right now at this point in the season. We have got to get it going up and down. Also need to work real hard not to foul tomorrow night, not for the reasons you might think as far as putting them on the line but to stop, it slows the pace down. So we have got to play it really clean and we have talked about if somebody beats you, you have got to trust your teammates to take a charge behind you. You can’t run up and foul them and stop the pace of the game. We need the thing going up and down the best we can get it.”

On Kentucky’s young post players adapting to the atmosphere…
“Big Blue Madness had the same amount of people in the building and I think they knew a lot of eyes were on them. I thought they handled that fairly well. They are really high character kids and they are going to try real hard tomorrow night. I do not know where we will end up, but they are going to try real hard. They are not anywhere close to where they will be at the end of the season but they’ll try hard. I don’t really know exactly what to expect out of them but I know they will give us a great effort.

On Jennifer O’Neill’s performance against Baylor last season …
“Jennifer, the thing that I’m always so pleased with is she had a great attitude leading up to the start of the season Friday night. She had a great attitude and had a very difficult first half from a shooting standpoint. She wasn’t making shots. Her attitude was fantastic. She didn’t press and she didn’t make bad decisions. She took a couple of forced shots that I had pointed out to her and she really handled that well. I think her attitude is great. She played great defense in practice this morning. I mean great defense in practice this morning. She has to get her mind on tomorrow night and can’t have her mind on whatever date that game was. Unfortunately, none of those points can carry over to the game tomorrow night. I wish we could borrow a few from that, but we can’t and she’ll just have to go play her game tomorrow night. I like how she’s prepared.”

On ball distribution from game Friday night…
“I have a high level of expectations for this basketball team to really do what we emphasize. I really think that as a coach what I’ve found over the years is that when we emphasize something then we do it pretty well. One thing that we’re really emphasizing this year is to become a better passing team. When we pass the basketball the way we practice, we were fantastic and you saw the high level of assists. Now fundamentally you saw the turnovers. We had 21 turnovers and 15 of those were really just undisciplined passes and unforced errors that you just lose focus and break down fundamentally. I think that’s one thing for us. We’re really trying to break the speed limit when we’re out on the freeway. We’re trying to drive 100 miles per hour when we’re out in transition and running is what we try to tell the players. If it gets into the half-court, then you have to make some good decisions. You have to slow down and observe the speed limit. You’re in the neighborhood now and you can’t go 100 miles per hour. You have to jump stop, get two hands on the ball and be really fundamental. It’s a challenge for the players. Not many people try to play the way that we play and I believe we’ll be able to master that. I think this will be a very good passing team before it’s all said and done.”