Cats Meet Arkansas-Pine Bluff Sunday in Memorial

Dec. 9, 2011

LEXINGTON, Ky. - The 10th-ranked Kentucky women's basketball team, fresh off back-to-back wins over top 10 opponents for the first time in school history, returns to Memorial Coliseum on Sunday, Dec. 11 to face Arkansas-Pine Bluff in their ninth consecutive home game. Game time is 1 p.m. ET.

Gameday
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Kentucky vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Sun., Dec. 11 - 1:00 p.m. ET
Lexington, Ky.
Memorial Coliseum
Fan Guide
Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader
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TV: UK IMG
Radio: UK IMG
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Live Video via ESPN3
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After a thrilling 72-65 win upset of No. 6/5 Duke on Thursday in Rupp Arena, Kentucky is riding a nine-game winning streak which ties for the nation's third-longest winning streak. The Cats have won eight in a row at home, a streak that ties for the ninth-longest, and they have also won 29 consecutive games at home vs. nonconference opponents.  This is UK's best start to a season since the 2009-10 season when the Cats began 11-0.

"We are excited about our victory last night over Duke," UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. "After going back and watching that, the players really played hard and had to compete at a high level to get that done. So it was a great night. The challenge now is to try to build on that, and the way you do that is to come back and prepare very well for our next opponent, Arkansas-Pine Bluff. It will be important for us to find out what we can correct from the Duke game and try and get that done, and see if we can take another step forward on Sunday."

Kentucky (9-0), one of just 11 teams in the country still undefeated, looks to keep its nine-game winning streak alive. UK has also won 29 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 (+14.6). The Cats have forced a league-high 300 turnovers for an average of 33.3 forced turnovers per game.

Leading the charge is junior and Naismith Trophy candidate 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 16.8 points per game. She has netted double-figure points in all nine games this season, including a season-high 23 points on Thursday vs. Duke. Freshman Bria Goss (Indianapolis) has also been a key contributor as she averages 11.6 points and 5.3 rebounds a game. She is coming off a career night vs. the Blue Devils with 19 points. Sophomore Samantha Drake (Bardstown, Ky.) is the team's leading rebounder with 7.3 rpg and has netted double figures in three of the last four games.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff (0-6) is located in Pine Bluff, Ark., and is a member of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. The Lady Lions enter Sunday's game looking for their first win of the season. They are coming off an 84-36 loss at Marquette. Chigozianyi Okwumabua led UAPB with nine points, six rebounds and three steals.

Overall, the Lady Lions are led by junior guard Lakendra Marsh, who is averaging 10.2 points and 3.0 rebounds per game. Freshman guard Carlisha Walker leads UAPB on the glass, averaging 4.8 rebounds per game.

If not able to attend the game, it will be televised live on the UK IMG Sports Network and Fox Sports South. 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.

Fans interested in tickets can visit the Joe Craft Center ticket office, go to UKathletics.com, or call the UK ticket office at 1-800-928-CATS.

Single-game reserved tickets are available at a cost of $7 for all ages. General admission tickets for adults are also $7 while single-game general admission tickets for seniors and children (18 and under, 65 and over) are only $4. Age 5 and under are admitted free. UK students and faculty/staff also will receive free admission with valid UK identification.

Women's basketball parking for Sunday's game is available in the following surface lots and parking structures:

  • Student Center Lot - off Euclid Ave
  • MLK South Lot - between Lexington Ave and MLK Blvd. and south (towards Euclid) of the center drive lane.  DO NOT PARK IN NORTH MLK LOT (closest to Wildcat Lodge) AS THIS IS A RESIDENTIAL LOT AND SUBJECT TO TICKET/TOW
  • Handicapped Parking (first come-first served until full) is located in the Northeast corner of the MLK South Lot, must have valid state-issued hang tag
  • Joe Craft Center North E-Lot - large lot located north of the Joe Craft Center, and accessible via Lexington Avenue or Rose St.
  • Good Samaritan surface Lot - accessible off MLK Blvd
  • Parking Structure #5 - entrances off Limestone and S. Upper
  • Doors to the Coliseum will open one (1) hour prior to tip-off. 
  • UK Athletics encourages women's basketball fans to arrive early to ease traffic and parking congestion around the Coliseum. 
  • Surface event lots (i.e. Student Center, Hardymon, South MLK, Joe Craft Center North and Good Samaritan Surface Lot) typically reach capacity approximately 45 minutes prior to tip-off, at which point, vehicles should proceed to Parking Structure #5 (PS#5).  
  • The PS #5 shuttle will begin one hour prior to tip and end one hour post-game. The PS #5 shuttle picks up on Administration Drive, accessible via the sky bridge located on the 3rd Floor of PS#5.

Pre-Arkansas-Pine Bluff Media Opportunity - Dec. 9, 2011

Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening statement...
"We are excited about our victory last night over Duke. After going back and watching that, the players really played hard and had to compete at a high level to get that done. So it was a great night. The challenge now is to try to build on that, and the way you do that is to come back and prepare very well for our next opponent, Arkansas-Pine Bluff. It will be important for us to find out what we can correct from the Duke game and try and get that done, and see if we can take another step forward on Sunday."

On keeping the team focused...
"The way we operate is predicated on energy. So, no matter who you're playing, if you don't play hard, extremely hard, in our style of play, you will not have success. Often times we have two of our players guarding one of their players which means somebody's open for them, so you just have to hustle to make those rotations. That helps to try and keep the focus on you more than the opponent. I think that was one of the best things we did this past week against Louisville and Duke - we focused more on Kentucky than our opponents, and that's what we'll need to do on Sunday."

On the depth and talent on the Kentucky roster...
"Where it really is showing up for us is in past years we've had a group that has been committed on the defensive end and that's where we've had our identity and that's where we've gained much of our identity is from the defensive end and we can count on our kids to play hard and sometimes we would kind of catch our breath maybe on the offensive end. What's so great about our depth right now is, I'm so pleased, not just with our defense, but the way we are pushing the ball back on offense - miss or make. That's where I'm seeing the most benefit from our depth. We also have four or five players who can guard the ball and start our defense so that's huge and depth helps us there. But, I've been pretty encouraged by how we're running the ball and we just need to keep that going. And if we can take that up a couple more notches we're really going to have a weapon at our disposal, and that's great that we have some depth to get that done because we probably couldn't get that done without it."

On if he felt freshman forward/center Azia Bishop would need to have a performance like what she had for Kentucky to have a chance to win against Duke...
"I told the assistants, `It would have been great if Azia had been prepared for that game.' I didn't think Azia was ready for that game last night to be quite honest with you. Just the way she had been practicing and playing and carrying herself. She had done better for three days, but I just didn't think three days was enough for her to do what she did last night. I knew that was possible, and I was encouraged that she had started trying harder, and I had told the assistants it would have really been a good game for her last night because of her length, you saw she had a couple blocks against Elizabeth Williams and that was big, just her presence. She's our longest and probably biggest presence in the post. So, I was surprised that she was able to turn it on and play that way last night. Now the challenge for her is we just need to keep doing what she's doing. We've been real, real tough on her. We need to stay tough on her, she needs to stay tough on herself because her challenge is she kind of gets a little unfocused and so we need a better job from her in staying focused. She'll do that and she can play as you - I went back and watched the film, the steal she had and the left-handed layup she had in transition, there's not a lot of 6-3 post players who can make that play. It was an incredible play. The gifts are there, they're substantial, she just needs to put it together and I'm happy she did last night, but it caught me a little off guard."

On the crowd and how big of a step this program has taken...
"It's a good week for us, full house in Memorial on Sunday and then a record crowd in Rupp. I think the best thing is the people probably appreciate how hard these players compete. They really play hard and I think that makes it more fun to come out and watch a team that's going to give some effort. I think it was a great night and I think our fans are excited and will remain excited. What would be the next step for our program is to have a full house Sunday. Pine Bluff doesn't have the name that Duke has, but it's still the same Kentucky team. So come out and watch Kentucky and watch these kids and I'll promise you they'll compete hard on Sunday."

On building the women's basketball program and if he can appreciate the work Coach (Rich) Brooks and Coach (Joker) Phillips have done with the football program...
"I can appreciate it. I have a deep appreciation for competing in this conference in any sport. What you have to do is you have to try to tune out all the people who say you can't get it done and you just have to stay laser-focused on trying to get players who can turn it around. That's what's going to always do it for you, is players. We have better players on the team now than we had nine years ago when we walked through the doors with Coach (Mickie) DeMoss - and what a great job she did in getting this thing going. I'm always amazed at how hard she worked to get this thing to where we could have a chance. So now, we just have to stay focused on that, continue to stay true to our mission of trying to help them come in here and be talented players that end up leaving being able to live a life full of purpose. I think we'll stay true to that. We obviously have a lot to sell here at Kentucky."

On Arkansas' defense being "40 minutes of hell," and what kind of defense Kentucky has...
"We would like for it to be `40 Minutes of Dread.' We want you to dread coming in and having to play Kentucky. We want you to say, `Oh my gosh, we have to play this for 40 minutes,' because what we would like to do is, we're not going to be real tricky, you're going to know when we come in, we're going to try to play as hard as we can with as many people coming at you, and not stop. That's what I told the team in preseason, `We want to be the most dreaded team in the country.' I don't know if we can get there or not, but that's our goal and they have to practice that way every day. We really need to operate in that fashion that we're going to be relentless and not let up. Maybe I'll trademark that when I go upstairs (to my office)."