Kentucky, Duke Battle in Clash of Top 10 Teams

Dec. 7, 2011

LEXINGTON, Ky. - For the first time since 1983, Lexington, Ky., will showcase two of the top women's basketball teams in the country, as No. 10 Kentucky plays host to No. 6/5 Duke on Thursday, Dec. 8 in Rupp Arena. Game time is 6 p.m. ET.

Gameday
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Kentucky vs. Duke
Thurs., Dec. 8 - 6:00 p.m. ET
Lexington, Ky.
Rupp Arena
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Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader | Duke Get Acrobat Reader
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TV: CW/FSN
Radio: UK IMG
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Thursday's game will mark the first time the Wildcats played a game in Lexington with both teams ranked in the top 10 since Feb. 9, 1983 when No. 4 Kentucky met No. 6 Tennessee in Memorial Coliseum.

"We have a very difficult challenge facing us tomorrow night," UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. "Duke has an outstanding team and we have worked hard to get prepared for the game as they pose some real challenges for our basketball team. It will be a tough game but should be a great atmosphere. I want to thank everyone who has bought tickets so far. I just cannot impress upon people who support our program how much they can help tomorrow night if they can buy a ticket, show up and we have a huge crowd down there that is behind our players. Our players really feed off the energy and I think tomorrow night could be a really special night for our fans."

Kentucky (8-0), one of just 12 teams in the country still undefeated, looks to keep its eight-game winning streak alive. UK has also won 28 consecutive games at home to nonconference opponents. This is UK's best start to a season since the 2009-10 season when the Cats began 11-0.

The Wildcats' defensive pressure has once again been their bread and butter as they lead the nation in turnover margin (+15.4). The Cats have forced a league-high 276 turnovers for an average of 34.5 forced turnovers per game.

Leading the charge is junior guard A'dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.). Mathies, who already ranks in the top 10 on UK's all-time steals list, averages a Southeastern Conference-high 4.1 steals per game to go along with her team-best 16.0 points per game. She has netted double-figure points in all eight games this season, including a season-high 20 points three times. Freshman Bria Goss (Indianapolis) has also been a key contributor as she averages 10.6 points and 5.6 rebounds a game. Sophomore Samantha Drake (Bardstown, Ky.) is the team's leading rebounder with 7.8 rebounds per game.

Duke (6-1), is located in Durham, N.C., and is a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Duke enters Thursday's game coming off a 92-43 victory over Pittsburgh in which sophomore guard Chelsea Gray recorded the first triple-double of her career (14 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds) and the fourth in Duke women's basketball history.

The Blue Devils have four players who are averaging over 10 points per game, led by freshman center Elizabeth Williams who is averaging a team-high 11.9 points and a team-high 9.4 rebounds.

Duke holds a 3-0 lead in the all-time series. This is the Blue Devils' first trip to Lexington. UK met Duke last season in Durham, N.C., falling 54-48 on Jan. 4, 2011.

If not able to attend the game, it will be televised live on the CW in Lexington and tape delayed on Fox Sports South at 10 p.m. ET. A live video stream will be available via ESPN3.com. It also can be heard on the UK IMG Sports Radio Network with Neil Price calling the action for the sixth consecutive season. Fans can also follow the UK Hoops team on Twitter at @UKHoopCats and use #UKHoops to comment on the game.

Tickets are available for just $1, if purchased in advance. Tickets can be purchased at the Joe Craft Center Ticket Office during normal business hours (9 a.m. - 4 p.m.), or by calling 1-800-928-CATS. Tickets for $1 will not be available online unless for a group of 20 or more. Tickets for $1 also will not be available for purchase on game day at Rupp Arena, but can be purchased for normal ticket prices.

Online tickets at UKAthletics.com or Ticketmaster.com are available for general admission at a cost of $7 for adults. Online general admission tickets for seniors and children (18 and under, 65 and over) are only $4. Age 5 and under are admitted free.

If available, students and faculty/staff also will receive free admission with valid UK identification. Free student and faculty/staff tickets may be picked up in advance at the Joe Craft Center ticket windows during normal business hours.

Pre-Duke Media Opportunity - Dec. 7, 2011

Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening Statement
"We have a very difficult challenge facing us tomorrow night. Duke has an outstanding team and we have worked hard to get prepared for the game as they pose some real challenges for our basketball team. It will be a tough game but should be a great atmosphere. I want to thank everyone who has bought tickets so far. I just cannot impress upon people who support our program how much they can help tomorrow night if they can buy a ticket, show up and we have a huge crowd down there that is behind our players. Our players really feed off the energy and I think tomorrow night could be a really special night for our fans."

On how excited the team is to play in Rupp...
"I think they are excited to play in the game and I am not sure if they are excited about Rupp Arena or not. I haven't really had the time to ask them that. We have practiced down there a couple of days and we will go back down there today. My main focus has been on how to stop Duke and how to gets some points on the board for us and I haven't spent much time on the venue. I would have to believe they will be very excited when they come out of the tunnel and there's huge crowd there. They will be really excited."

On if there is going to be problem with their shooting at a different arena...
"I don't think so. We have trouble shooting from time to time in Memorial Coliseum so I don't know if Rupp Arena will be any better or any worse. We shot the ball great from the 3-point line (vs. Louisville). We haven't been a great shooting team all year. I wish we could shoot it a little better. I don't anticipate that being a huge factor in the game. I would think you would rather be us than Duke if you have all of those people on your side. It's not our normal venue but it certainly will be a home game."

On if the team's style will surprise Duke...
"It is just still so hard for me to answer that question. I don't really know if they will be surprised or not surprised. I don't think they will be. I think they know what we are going to try to do on a game-plan standpoint. But we are still so young in the season and I haven't seen anything on video yet where people have tried to do exactly what we are trying to do but every team is different. I don't know. It's a hard question for me to answer. Trust me, I think about it. They have a lot of depth and they have a very imposing front line, and it would concern me greatly if we get into a slow grind in our half-court game. I'd be really concerned because they are very powerful."

On if he thinks playing in Rupp Arena can be a good recruiting tool...
"I don't know. I don't know if we need to play down there for a recruiting tool. I think Memorial is a fantastic venue. Bria Goss for instance came to a game, I think it was senior day a couple years ago, during our Elite Eight year, and that was a fantastic atmosphere and she was motivated by that crowd. I don't know if that (playing in Rupp Arena) is tremendously important. We have had a really good record the two past seasons at Memorial so we like that venue. It's a great venue. Rupp is fantastic and it's one of the most famous arenas in the country. I don't know if we need to play down there for recruiting. I could be wrong on that but I don't think so."

On whether there is anything they can take away from the close loss to Duke last season...
"Well we take a lot away from it as you go back and review that. We just didn't do enough of what we needed to do from a defensive pressure standpoint and they were so big. They just destroyed us on the boards especially in the first half. I didn't feel like we competed that great. We had freshmen point guards in that game. It was a difficult game for us. I was proud of how they battled in the second half. We really had a chance to win the game after a tough first half, but they were so big and physical and that was a physical, physical, basketball game. It was not a thing of beauty at all. It was rough. And as I went back and looked at it, we just never got enough pressure on the ball. If we don't get enough pressure on the ball tomorrow night and they can just throw it in to their interior players, we will have a tough time winning the game. We have to make it difficult for them to get it into the post. It was a tough matchup and I am sure we benefitted from being in that environment last year. There are a lot of returning players on both sides in the game. Duke has a lot of players that play in the game. I think we can learn something from it."

#4, Keyla Snowden, Senior, G

On whether it matters if the team is playing at Rupp Arena versus Memorial Coliseum...
"It doesn't really matter. Memorial is our home, but given the opportunity to play at Rupp, we're really excited. We're going to come out and show the fans just how excited we are to play there."

On whether the shooting is different in Rupp Arena versus Memorial Coliseum...
"We practiced there yesterday and we're going there again today. It's really comfortable shooting in there just knowing what the atmosphere will be like having our fans there to support us."

On whether it will be easy to transfer the energy from Louisville's game to Duke's...
"Definitely, it's going to be really easy for us. We usually play with a lot of excitement and energy and I think that will carry over for us with all of the fans being at Rupp."

On whether her team has a lot of confidence going into this game...
"Oh yeah, confidence is very important for us. I think that having beat Louisville by such a huge margin will give us more confidence going into the Duke game."

On whether Duke will be ready for UK's style of play...
"I'm not really sure. I'm sure they've watched a lot of film on us, just like we've watched a lot on them. I think it's going to be a really good game. They're a good team. They're ranked that high for a reason. It'll be a good game."

On whether she feels the team will have to create havoc in order to win...
"Yes, because that's our style of play. We like to hassle the ball handler and get in the passing lanes. Our defense is what makes us, so we're counting on that for this game."

#24, Amber Smith, Senior, PG

On gaining confidence after the Louisville game...
"We gained a lot of confidence after that game. What we do well is turn people over and seeing that we were tied in turnovers with Louisville just shows that we are capable of doing other things well. We can rebound the ball well and make 3s.  We took a lot away from that game and gained some confidence."

On playing in Rupp Arena...
"I'm excited to play in Rupp. We love Memorial Coliseum, but to play in Rupp is a great opportunity to get more people out to see us. We are all excited for this opportunity."

On Duke being ready for UK's style of play...
"Hopefully they are not ready because that would be to our advantage. They are well coached and very talented so I'm sure they will come out playing their best basketball so we need to also."

#31, Samantha Drake, Sophomore, F/C

On playing against freshman center Elizabeth Williams...
"Actually I am looking forward to that challenge. They say that she will be one of the top post players that we will play this year during the season other than Tennessee. I'm always looking for a challenge to help my team win."

On last year's performance against Duke...
"I have gained a lot of confidence from that. Knowing that I was just a freshman and struggled last year and still managed to play well gives me confidence. This year I have improved and I feel that I can do a lot better. I have confidence in myself and my teammates."