UK Meets No. 12/13 Louisville in 45th Battle of the Bluegrass

Dec. 13, 2008

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky women’s basketball team travels to Louisville, Ky., Sunday, Dec. 14 to face No. 12/13 Louisville in the 45th annual “Battle of the Bluegrass”. The game will tip off at 2 p.m. EST in Freedom Hall and be broadcast live on the Big Blue Radio Network with Neil Price.

The Wildcats (5-4) look to snap a four-game losing streak to the Cardinals and chart their first win in Freedom Hall since 1999.

“This is a big game coming up tomorrow,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “In any sport, when Louisville and Kentucky get together it is a big game. We have struggled a bit in the series losing four in a row and it’s been a while since we have won over in Freedom Hall. There will be a big crowd over there and I know that everybody is excited for the game. We need to put last night behind us, and look forward to facing a good Louisville team tomorrow.”

UK also looks to get back on the winning track after dropping a tough game to East Tennessee State on Friday in Memorial Coliseum. Playing without senior point guard Carly Ormerod (Louisville, Ky.) and junior forward Lydia Watkins (Hopkinsville, Ky.) due to injuries, the Wildcats struggled offensively, shooting 35.8 percent from the floor and just 10.0 percent from the three-point line. UK pulled within two points twice in the second half but went the final four minutes without a field goal and eventually fell 59-50. Senior Eleia Roddy (Columbus, Ohio) led the Cats in scoring and rebounding with her sixth career and second double-double of the season (13 points, 11 rebounds).

The game, dubbed the “Battle of the Bluegrass,” tips off for the 45th time since UK became a varsity sport in the 1974-75 season. The Cats lead the overall series 28-16 but trail 9-11 when the game is played in Louisville. This game also marks the 1,000th contest played in the Wildcats’ 35-year history.

Three Wildcats are averaging in double-figure scoring this season led by sophomore forward Victoria Dunlap’s 11.3 points per game. Junior guard Amani Franklin (Stone Mountain, Ga.) and Roddy follow with 10.1 and 10.0 ppg, respectively. Roddy leads the rebounding effort with 7.9 rebounds per game.

Louisville is 8-1 overall and riding a three-game winning streak after defeating Hartford on Wednesday, 70-42. The Cardinals average 72.4 points per game and are outscoring their opponent by a +20-point margin. Louisville’s only loss this season came at Nevada on Nov. 29, 85-82.

For the second straight season the Cards are led in scoring and rebounding by All-America candidate Angel McCoughtry. She ranks seventh nationally in scoring, averaging 22.0 points per game while pulling down a team-high 9.4 rebounds and 4.4 steals per game. She became Louisville's all-time leading scorer vs. Tennessee Tech on Nov. 15 and the all-time rebounder against Alabama on Nov. 28. Two other players also average in double-digit scoring as Candyce Bingham and Deseree Byrd are contributing 11.6 and 10.3 ppg, respectively.

Head Coach Matthew Mitchell Quotes

Opening Statement …
“This is a big game coming up tomorrow. Louisville is a very good team that is highly ranked in the country. In any sport, when Louisville and Kentucky get together it is a big game. We have struggled a bit in the series losing four in a row, and it's been a while since we have won over in Freedom Hall. There will be a big crowd over there and I know that everybody is excited for the game. We need to put last night behind us, and look forward to facing a good Louisville team tomorrow.”

On how they put the Tennessee State loss behind them …
“We will have to, but I don't know how easy it will be to do that. It is important that you don't define everything that is going on in your season by a 40-minute game. Last night was a difficult night and it can be broken down in a number of different ways. The bottom line for our team is we need to start making easy shots that our offense keeps creating, and our offense is doing a good job of that. The effort our players are giving is obvious when you have 25 offensive rebounds. When the shots that are within our shooting range and are available to us start falling, and we believe that they will with the talent we have on our team, then the complexion of things will start changing. It is important for us as coaches to not get the complexion of our season and our team murky because of one poor performance last night.”

On if the rivalry with Louisville has changed considering their recent winning streak over Kentucky …
“The two teams are rivals and it is always an important game but we haven't held up our end of the bargain. I think that it would more exciting if we started playing better in the game.”

On Carly Ormerod and if she will return …
“The plan is that she will receive treatment next week and we will check it again next week. If I had to tell you today, I think she would be doubtful for the games next week. We will have a clearer evaluation next week. We have a four-day break during Christmas and we will reconvene on the 26 th and will see what the status is. Those are some important games for us after Christmas. If she is feeling good and is ready to go then maybe we can get her going before the end of the year.”

On what this team needs to do to get back on track …
“I think that we are in a difficult spot right now, when you have a team who is not tremendously deep and then you take two of your top eight out of the mix. It puts so much pressure on everybody else. We are asking players to function in roles that they are not particularly comfortable functioning in. That is a great opportunity for them to grow and handle adversity. Right now it is not a lack of passion at all. I think that we are having a tremendous confidence problem. That is such a hard thing as a coach to handle because each team is different and each player responds differently. We are still trying to find out what is the right button to push, but I am confident that we will be able to get that straighten out and hang in there. Tomorrow is a great opportunity to do that. If we can go over there and play hard and then that could be a good confidence booster for us.”