UK Hoops to Meet Louisville in 50th 'Battle of the Bluegrass'
Nov. 29, 2013
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The seventh-ranked Kentucky women’s basketball team will play host to intrastate rival No. 4/3 Louisville in the 50th meeting of the two programs on Sunday, Dec. 1 at 1 p.m. ET in Memorial Coliseum. UK will look to improve to 8-0 for the first time since 2011-12 and third time under head coach Matthew Mitchell, and chart its third straight victory over the Cardinals. The game will be televised live on the UK IMG Sports Network and Fox Sports South, while fans can also listen to the UK IMG Sports Radio Network with Neil Price or follow Twitter updates on @UKHoopCats.
Battle of the Bluegrass
Kentucky vs. Louisville
Sun., Dec. 1 - 1:00 p.m. ET
Game Notes: UK | UL
|Radio: UK IMG
Gameday Live: Live stats, audio, blog, and social media
Sunday’s game is sold out. However, a limited number of tickets will be held for UK students, faculty and staff on game day. Tickets can be picked up at the Joe Craft Center ticket office beginning at Noon ET on Dec. 1. UK students will be offered one free ticket for themselves, while faculty and staff will receive a ticket for themselves and one for a guest, while supplies last. UK students must present their valid UK Student ID and faculty and staff must present their UK Employee identification card in order to receive tickets.
Please note that fans arriving approximately 1 hour or less before tip-off are highly encouraged to park at the Transit Center Parking Garage (see shuttle info below) or Parking Structure #5 next to Kennedy’s bookstore. Both are a 5-10 minute walk or a short shuttle ride over to the Coliseum. All surface lots near the Coliseum will likely be full one hour prior to tip-off and you will be re-directed to one of these options. Doors to Memorial Coliseum will open at Noon ET on Dec. 1.
- All E-lots (Employee Lots) surrounding Memorial Coliseum beginning 3 hours prior to tip-off
- Parking Structure #5 (adjacent to Kennedy’s Bookstore) –access from Limestone or Upper Street. Fans who park here need to pull a white ticket from the dispenser and exchange for a pink voucher with Event Staff at the entrances of the Coliseum.
- Lexington Authority Transit Center Parking Garage, located between High Street and Vine Street, is available on Sunday. If parking in this garage, bring the yellow token and game ticket to the Guest Service table at the Lexington Ave entrance to request a free parking coupon.
- Handicap parking is available in the E-Lot (Employee Lot) north of the Craft Center, adjacent to the metered spaces running along the frontage of the Craft Center with a valid, state issued handicap tag. These spaces (typically 20-30 stalls) are available on a first-come, first-serve basis until full.
Please note: parking is prohibited in any R (Residential) lots. Vehicles parking in Residential lots without a proper permit, along yellow curbs, grass spaces, or other non-specified and unapproved areas may be subject to ticket and/or tow.
- Shuttles are available beginning 1.5 hours prior to tip off from Parking Structure # 5 located off Limestone and Upper Street and the Transit Center Parking Garage located off High Street and Vine Street.
- Parking Structure # 5 (blue route) picks up/drops off on Administration Drive, at the end of the pedestrian sky bridge accessed from the 3rd floor of the parking garage.
- Transit Center Parking Garage (green route) picks up/drops off near the corner of High Street and Martin Luther King.
- Shuttles will start back up 1.5 hours after tip-off (to return guests to their parking areas).
For more information on parking around Memorial Coliseum and other game-day questions visit www.ukathletics.com/wbbgameday.
Like Kentucky, Louisville enters Sunday’s game undefeated (7-0) after wins over Loyola Chicago (101-54), Quinnipac (100-82), LSU (88-67), Oklahoma (97-92 OT), Ohio (90-33), Florida State (69-59 OT) and Western Kentucky (74-61).
“It’s a big game,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “I think any time we get together in any sport it’s certainly important for our fans, so no matter what the records are I think it’s an important game, very important for us at Kentucky. Now, you put in the mix that both teams are really playing at a high level, highly thought of around the country. It’s still very early in the season, but where we are right now, both teams are in the top 10 and it’s an important game. I think it’s terrific our fans have made it a sellout already. There’s a lot of passion surrounding the game, so we just really need to prepare well to see if we can get a victory.”
Senior guard Shoni Schimmel is one of four Cardinals to average double figures with a team-high 12.9 points per game. Sara Hammond follows with 11.0 points per game, while Antonita Slaughter and Asia Taylor add 10.7 and 10.3 points per game, respectively. Taylor is the team’s leading rebounder with 6.7 boards per game.
The Wildcats (7-0) are riding a 17-game winning streak over nonconference opponents and a 42-game winning streak against nonconference opponents at home after a commanding 117-77 win over Bradley on Wednesday in Memorial Coliseum.
UK used a 25-0 run midway through the first half to blow the game open and would lead by as many as 42 points in the second half, while shooting 50 percent from the field for the third straight game. Six Wildcats finished in double digits led by senior Samarie Walker’s (West Carrollton, Ohio) career-high 22 points and 14 rebounds. The double-double was her third in the last four games. Senior DeNesha Stallworth (Richmond, Calif.) added her second double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 boards. Junior Jennifer O’Neill (Bronx, N.Y.) finished with 14 points for her sixth double-figure scoring output of the season. Senior Kastine Evans (Salem, Conn.) chipped in 13 points and five dimes, while sophomore Janee Thompson (Chicago) and freshman Linnae Harper (Chicago) each finished with 10 points.
Overall, Stallworth, an All-America Candidate, leads a very balanced scoring attack this season. She averages a team-high 13.7 points per game, while shooting a team-high 62.7 percent from the field which leads the Southeastern Conference. Evans follows closely behind with 13.1 points per game. Walker is now averaging a double-double with 11.4 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. The 10.3 rebounds per game is tops in the league along with Ole Miss’ Tia Faleru. O’Neill and Bria Goss also are averaging in double figures this season with 11.0 and 10.7 ppg, respectively.
The Cats lead the overall series with Louisville 31-18, including a 20-4 lead when the game is played in Lexington. UK has won two in a row overall and the last two matchups in Lexington. The Cats have won 15 straight games vs. the Cardinals in Memorial Coliseum, dating back to 1979, as UK’s last two home losses against Louisville were in Rupp Arena. The Cats upset the Cardinals last season in the KFC Yum! Center, 48-47.
Sunday marks the fourth time in the series both teams have been ranked in the top 25 of the national polls and the second consecutive meeting both teams have ranked in the top 10. This is the highest both teams have been ranked heading into the matchup. Last season, UK was No. 9 in the AP poll and No. 8 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll, while U of L was No. 7 in the AP Poll and No. 6 in the Coaches’ Poll.
Media Opportunity - November 29, 2013
Head Coach Matthew Mitchell
“We had a good day yesterday and now it’s time to turn our attention toward a big game on Sunday. Louisville has a really good basketball team, really tough. We’ll have to have a good two days of preparation to get ready to see if we can earn a valuable victory over Louisville.”
On the rivalry between Kentucky and Louisville…
“It’s a big game. I think any time we get together in any sport it’s certainly important for our fans, so no matter what the records are I think it’s an important game, very important for us at Kentucky. Now, you put in the mix that both teams are really playing at a high level, highly thought of around the country. It’s still very early in the season, but where we are right now, both teams are in the top 10 and it’s an important game. I think it’s terrific our fans have made it a sellout already. There’s a lot of passion surrounding the game, so we just really need to prepare well to see if we can get a victory.”
On his relationship with Louisville head coach Jeff Walz…
“It’s a very good relationship. He’s really stretched me as a coach as far as being a better coach. He’s an outstanding coach; he really challenges you in preparation to get your team ready to play because his team will be ready to play. He’s a very, very aggressive and tough recruiter, so that is something that has really helped me to become my best. I have a lot admiration for what they’ve been able to accomplish over the time Jeff has been there, so it’s a good relationship.”
“They are just so talented. They have a lot of talent and a lot of firepower. It’s a real challenge to see if you can stop them, slow them down. They are averaging a bunch of points. They’ve played a really tough schedule up to this point. I think the talent level and how hard they play, they really play hard. Watching tape the last couple days after the Bradley game, they really play hard, so I think the intensity level of the game will be terrific and we’ll have to see if we can exceed their level of intensity and exceed their level of play. We’ll see if we can play a little bit harder and see if we can find a way to win.”
On if Louisville plays the same style as Kentucky…
“It is from a pressure standpoint. They’re going to put a lot of pressure on you; at least that’s what they’ve done up to this point. It’s intense pressure, especially very early in the possession. You have to be ready to handle a double-team and sometimes triple-team. They are bringing some people at you, so you have to be prepared for that. It’s unlike anything we’ve seen up to this point. They are clearly the best defensive team we’ve faced. We’ve been playing well offensively. We’ve been doing a really good job there, so it’s really important for us to stick with the things we’ve worked so hard on in our offensive fundamentals to see if we can execute against that. If you can beat the initial pressure you have a chance, but it’s a lot easier to talk about and draw up than it is to beat it. They are a good defensive team.”
On if he has talked to Makayla Epps about not getting too amped up for the game…
“Where Makayla is right now, Makayla is doing a lot of good things offensively. It’s seven games into her freshman year, so it’s been our experience it takes (freshmen) a while to come around defensively, so the only thing I would talk to Makayla about before this game is her defense, trying to get her defense better. Here’s the thing about Makayla, she generally gets excited and I’m sure being a Kentucky native and knowing how important the game is, there is maybe a tendency to get too amped as a freshman, but I think she’s got enough on her hands trying to learn and play defense the way we need her too. I know she will because she works hard. It’s just a learning curve that she’s got to get through. I will probably see how practice is going and I always try to get in-tune with where our players are.”
On DeNesha Stallworth’s play the last couple games…
“I think that it’s very natural for someone who has such high expectations of herself when two and three people are assigned to you, it can get frustrating. The thing DeNesha needs to do is to understand that there’s a reason two and three players are around because she has a lot of talent and ability and that’s not going to change, so she has to change the way she’s playing. She can’t get frustrated and I thought she was very frustrated in the first half (last game). We talked about it at halftime and then she came out and got a double-double in the game. All that happened was her mindset, so she just has to understand where she is and to her credit, which makes me feel really good about that situation because there have been times when she’s gotten down in the game and that was it. It was a wash that day and we moved on and tried to correct it after the game. She was able to make the adjustment in game, so I’ll continue to talk to her. The thing she has to do is she can’t put too much pressure on herself because she’s on a watch list or she’s considered one of the better players in the country. She can’t think about those things. She needs to think about rebounding and working really hard and working multiple times to get the ball. They are not letting her catch the ball on the initial pass and do what she wants to do. I’m optimistic that she’ll be able to work through that.”
On the key to stopping Louisville’s Asia Taylor and Shoni Schimmel…
“Taylor has played with a lot of energy, a lot of athleticism, very fast, quick, athletic, explosive and so when you are playing someone like that, it comes down to technique and attention to detail and those kind of things. I think for us, it’s a big time fundamental game. We have to be just fanatical about our fundamentals. We have to stay in a good stance in this game and play with some energy in our feet on defense and see if we can get stops. I think Taylor is the kind of player that if you aren’t real sharp, she can get a lot of things done. Schimmel, what a terrific career she’s had. She’s a really, really good player. She can make deep shots and handle the basketball and is a real smart defender. She’s just a really, really good player. We’ll just have to make her earn everything, which is what we’ve always tried to do, is to try to make her work hard to get everything. Rarely can you shut a player like that down, you have to make her work and make them really, really play hard throughout the course of the game. Hopefully, you win that battle and you make enough plays against them to win.”