Wildcats Travel to No. 25 Xavier

Dec. 1, 2008

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky women’s basketball team look to continue their winning ways when they take on No. 25 Xavier Tuesday, Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. EST in the Cintas Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. The game, broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Radio Network with Neil Price, is the first in a brutal stretch that has the Wildcats playing three games in five days.

After meeting the Musketeers, UK travels to Bowling Green, Ky., to face intrastate rival Western Kentucky on Thursday, Dec. 4 before returning home for a Saturday afternoon matinee against Furman in Memorial Coliseum. Counting the Turkey Classic, UK will play five games in a nine-day stretch.

“Right now I’m not worried about the other two games this week and I don’t want the players to be either,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “I only want their mind on practice today and tomorrow’s game against Xavier. They have a good group of players that will give us some challenges. Playing four road games in a row is tough and it will teach us a lot about the team. This has the potential to be a great week for us if we handle it in the right way.”

The Wildcats (4-1) are riding a four-game winning streak after victories over Yale and Long Island in the Courtyard LaGuardia Turkey Classic over the Thanksgiving weekend. It was UK’s 27th all-time regular-season tournament title.

Senior point guard Carly Ormerod (Louisville, Ky.) was named Most Valuable Player while sophomore point guard Amber Smith (Winter Haven, Fla.) was named to the All-Tournament team. Ormerod averaged 12.0 points and 2.5 steals while Smith recorded 10.5 points and 4.5 assists per game in the tournament.

Sophomore forward Victoria Dunlap (Nashville, Tenn.) is UK’s overall leader in scoring and rebounding. The preseason All-SEC selection averages 13.4 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.

The Musketeers (5-2) have won three straight after defeating Winthrop on Saturday at home, 66-43. XU’s only losses have come at the hands of nationally-ranked Louisville (65-55) and North Carolina (73-67).

Sophomore All-America candidate Ta’Shia Phillips is averaging a team-high double-double for the Musketeers this season with 15.4 points and 12.3 rebounds per game. Senior guard Tudy Reed follows in the scoring column, averaging 10.7 ppg.

“Ta’Shia Phillips is very talented and she has great size,” Mitchell said. “North Carolina is a top team and she had 23 points and 25 rebounds against them. She is a powerful force and poses a tremendous challenge to our players. We have to play team defense and it’s everyone’s responsibility to carry out their assignment. We want to limit her impact on the game, and we have to have a good effort to slow her down.”

Xavier leads the all-time series 5-1, including a 2-0 record when the game is played in Cincinnati. UK’s lone victory in the series came in the quarterfinals of the WNIT in 2005, 67-62. This is UK’s first trip to Xavier since 2004.

The Wildcats also are looking for their first win over a ranked team since defeating No. 23/21 Georgia, 57-50, on March 7, 2008 in the SEC Tournament.

For ticket information contact the Xavier ticket office at 513-745-3411 x 7 or online at goxavier.com.

Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening Statement…
“We had a really good trip to New York City and we want to thank the administration for giving us that opportunity. It was good for us to go up there and get a win. It was a very interesting tournament. We had to play hard to win both games, and we learned a lot about our team. We play Xavier tomorrow night, and they will be a difficult opponent because they are one of the top teams in the country. They have a good group of players that will give us some challenges. Xavier is another good team for us to beat, and we are going to work hard in practice today so we can get that done.”

On the team's progress…
“We are progressing at a good rate, but we struggle offensively at times. The two games in New York were very different because against Yale we were able to score, but we had trouble stopping them. Against LIU, we were good defensively, but we were terrible on offense. But, we are able to find ways to win games. Early on, I said we wouldn't be able to out-talent teams, and we would have to be resourceful and play hard. Through five games, we have done that four times. I'm pleased with our progress and we need to continue to get better.”

On the game against LIU…
“After looking at the film against LIU, they had a game plan to make us take long shots and we didn't do that but, we were able to get the ball to the right place. In the second half, we had a confidence crisis and we had to work hard to get the ball inside. We were mentally out of sync and we couldn't make shots. Now we have to go back and tell the players that they moved the ball, they didn't take bad shots, and they aren't bad shooters. I was proud we found a way to win because a lot of teams let their offense affect their defense. Some positives from that game were our stops and big rebounds.”

On Carly Ormerod in the game against LIU…
“Carly Ormerod shot the ball poorly, but she still impacted the game in many different ways. She defended effectively, she rebounded, she went to the free-throw line, and her leadership was amazing. When we were down four points against LIU, it seemed like 20 because of the way we were shooting. Ormerod was then able to get the team in a huddle and she was adamant that we would win the game. I appreciate that from her because I know she can play great defense and be a leader.”

On Lydia Watkins' play…
“She played very well against Yale because she was feeling better and Yale's style of defense played to her strengths. She was able to attack the basket and create opportunities for herself. Watkins also is a good passer, and she was able to get passes to her teammates when the Yale players cut her off. She is more in sync now, but she is nowhere near where she can be.”

On Jackie Sanders seeing action for the first time this season…
“I was very pleased with Jackie Sanders' performance in limited minutes this weekend. She got into the game on Friday and I was interested to see how she would handle herself. On Saturday, she made critical plays for us and made a good three-point shot. She has a better attitude now and she is practicing hard. As long as she does that, she can add another dimension to our team and get us to full strength.”

On UK 's three-point shooting…
“We took two bad three-point shots in the game against LIU, but other than that the shot selection is good. We are creating shooting drills in practice that simulate the game. Also, we are encouraging the team and telling them that they can make shots. In practice, we have been able to make our shots, but he have to transfer that into games. If we could get someone making them with consistency, then the pressure will be off everyone else. We have to believe the shots will start falling, because we have good three-point shooters. We just have to work through that slump right now.”

On playing three games in five days…
“Right now, I'm not worried about the other two games this week and I don't want the players to be either. I only want their mind on practice today and tomorrow's game against Xavier. However, we will find out a lot about our team this week. We have two tough road games and a quick turnaround for our game Saturday. Playing four road games in a row is tough and it will teach us a lot about the team. This has the potential to be a great week for us if we handle it in the right way.”

On Xavier's Ta'Shia Phillips…
“Ta'Shia Phillips is very talented and she has great size. North Carolina is a top team and she had 23 points and 25 rebounds against them. She is a powerful force and poses a tremendous challenge to our players. We have to play team defense and it's everyone's responsibility to carry out their assignment. We want to limit her impact on the game, and we have to have a good effort to slow her down.”