UK Hoops Travels to Chattanooga Saturday
Dec. 10, 2010
Video: Matthew Mitchell previews Chattanooga
LEXINGTON, Ky. - In what’s sure to be another hostile road environment, the 14th-ranked Kentucky women’s basketball team travels to Chattanooga for the first time in school history for a matchup with the Lady Mocs Saturday, Dec. 11 at 6 p.m. EST in their annual “Pack the House” game in McKenzie Arena. The game will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Radio Network with Neil Price.
UK (6-1) owns an 8-0 advantage in the all-time series vs. the Lady Mocs but the teams have never met in Chattanooga. The game will have special meaning to senior guard Carly Morrow as she is a native of nearby Lookout Mountain, Ga., and a graduate of Chattanooga Girls Preparatory School.
“We have a very challenging game ahead of us on the road going to Chattanooga,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “They have been very successful down there for a long time. Coach (Wes) Moore has a formula. They have a very good post player and low presence in Whitney Hood. She is averaging 21 points per game, and she is very impressive when you are watching the video of Chattanooga. Chattanooga surrounds her with very, very good three-point shooters. They are a very dangerous team. We are going to have to go on the road with a big crowd and play our very best. I’m looking for a great effort on Saturday night.”
The Wildcats are coming off a 77-53 win over Tennessee Tech on Tuesday in Memorial Coliseum for their 21st consecutive home win. Senior forward and reigning Southeastern Conference Player of the Year Victoria Dunlap (Nashville, Tenn.) led all scorers with 30 points, just three shy of her career high, while adding nine rebounds, five steals, four blocks and three assists. Sophomore guard and reigning SEC Freshman of the Year A’dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.) charted her second career double-double with 17 points, 10 rebounds and a game-high six steals.
Dunlap, a candidate for every major national award, is having another monstrous season as she currently ranks third nationally in rebounding and is ranks among the top five in seven SEC statistical categories, including leading the league in scoring (18.2), rebounding (11.8), blocks (2.5) and steals (3.8).
UK also continues its dominance on the defensive side of the floor, forcing a SEC-leading 26.9 turnovers per game while also grabbing a conference-best 13.4 steals per contest. The Cats have forced 20 or more turnovers in six of seven games this season and rank fifth nationally in turnover margin (+10.0).
Chattanooga is 3-4 overall, 1-0 in the Southern Conference after defeating Georgia Southern last Saturday, 87-80. The Lady Mocs hit a school-record 16 three-pointers en route to their first conference win of the season. UTC currently ranks seventh nationally in three-pointers made per game with 8.6.
Three players are averaging in double-digit scoring led by junior guard Whitney Hood’s impressive 21.4 points per game. That mark leads the SoCon and ranks 13th nationally. She is hitting 58 percent from the field (61-of-104) which ranks 19th nationally. Hood also is the team’s leading rebounder with 6.6 rpg. Following close behind is sophomore forward Kylie Lambert with 6.1 rpg.
While Kentucky leads the SEC in turnovers forced with 26.9 per game, Chattanooga does a great job of taking care of the basketball. The Lady Mocs rank ninth nationally in turnovers per game, averaging just 14.0 miscues.
For ticket information, visit www.GoMocs.com.
Pregame Press Conference
Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell
“We have a very challenging game ahead of us on the road. We are going to Chattanooga. They have been very successful down there for a long time. Coach (Wes) Moore has a formula. They have a very good post player and low presence in Whitney Hood. She is averaging 21 points per game and she is very impressive when you are watching the video of Chattanooga. Chattanooga surrounds her with very, very good three-point shooters. They are a very dangerous team. We are going to have to go on the road with a big crowd, and play our very best. I’m looking for a great effort on Saturday night.”
On the advantages of two-a-day practices...
“I think we have done well the last few days. It is very good for them. I think the more we are able to do (two-a-days), the better. So, I’m hoping that will be beneficial. We are definitely further ahead today than we were coming off of an off day on Wednesday. It’s been good. ”
On his team’s overall progress to this point in the season...
“I think that this is such an interesting team. I thought they might develop a little quicker. I think that as far as meshing and coming together as a team, we are getting there. I am not unhappy as to where we are. We will just keep plugging. We are where we are and I still think this team has tremendous capabilities and we can have a really good team.”
On if this team can be as good as last year...
“Well, that’s so hard to say. If you judge the team by how far they went in the NCAA Tournament that just goes to what kind of draw you got and how you are playing at the end of the season. I think that we definitely have a chance to be as successful as we were last year in the conference and a chance to not do as well. We will see.”
On Amber Smith’s schedule...
“I think we are probably six to eight weeks away from having to make a decision right now. This is just going on the timeline of a six-month recovery period. So I think by February we will have to make that decision. We have known that all along. If everything goes perfectly, then we would have to make a decision. If there were any setbacks, then you are looking at her coming back for her fifth year. We are just guessing right now.”
On the development of the freshman class...
“Well, I think they are performing okay. We expected before Amber was injured, that the freshmen were going to be a major part of this team. They have done well. They won a very big game against Notre Dame against a very, very good team. They also played really bad against Louisville. That’s just where we are, nothing that really surprises me. I’m really pleased with the talent that we have right now, we just have to get better.”
On if opponents having their “Pack the House” games against UK make a statement on the state of the program...
“It hasn’t always been that way. It is a compliment. I haven’t given it a lot of thought. We would like to be that, though. We would like to be an attractive team that other teams would like to have on their campus. I think that would get a lot of other people interested. I think that is a compliment to your program. Players have worked really hard over the past three and a half years and we are trying to make it last. Hopefully we will make happen.”