UK Hoops Meets Louisville Sunday in Annual Pack the House Game
Dec. 18, 2009
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Kentucky women's basketball team looks to remain undefeated and record the best start in school history when it meets intrastate rival Louisville Sunday, Dec. 20 in UK's annual "Pack the House" game. Tip-off is slated for 1 p.m. EST and the game will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio and TV) and FSN South.
A limited number of single-game general admission tickets are available for $5 adults/$2 senior citizens and children 6-18. Ages five and under are admitted free. UK students, faculty and staff also are admitted free with valid identification based on availability. For further ticket information, log on to UKathletics.com or call the UK ticket office at 859-257-1818 or 1-800-928-CATS (2287).
Game day parking is available in the "E" lots surrounding Memorial Coliseum, including the Martin Luther King Parking Lot and the Student Center Parking Lot. Due to the holiday break, " R" lot north of the Joe Crafter Center also will be open. Parking within Parking Structure #5, located behind Kennedy's bookstore, is available free of charge. Two shuttle buses will be provided to and from the parking structure and Memorial Coliseum. The service begins one hour prior to game time until one hour after the game.
The Wildcats, who have won 15 of their last 16 games against non-conference opponents, have used an in-your-face, pressure defense to help propel them to a 9-0 start. That mark ties the 1980-81 squad for the best start in school history. The Wildcats rank third nationally in turnover margin (+9.6) and have held three of their last four opponents to under 30 percent shooting from the floor. UK has held seven consecutive opponents to 60 points or less.
"It starts with our players being enthusiastic every day about playing at Kentucky, about playing for each other and about taking advantage of their opportunity that they have to be here," UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. "It takes a lot of effort and energy to play defense the way this team has been playing it.
"We try to tell the players it starts with enthusiasm and if we are able to play tough defense and win a game, nothing creates more enthusiasm than victories," Mitchell said. "So it is sort of a snowball effect we're trying to get going."
The Cats lead the overall series with Louisville 28-17, including an 18-4 mark in Lexington. However, UK looks to snap a five-game losing streak to the Cards and chart their first win in the series since 2003. Sunday's matchup marks the first meeting between the rivals in Memorial Coliseum since 2001 as the last three games have been played in Rupp Arena.
Four Wildcats are averaging double figures led by All-SEC forward Victoria Dunlap's (Nashville, Tenn.) 18.5 points per game. Dunlap also is the team's leading rebounder with 10.5 rpg. Dunlap did not play in UK's last game vs. Florida A&M due to a mild concussion sustained in practice. She is currently listed as questionable for the Louisville game. Freshman and Louisville native A'dia Mathies follows Dunlap in the scoring column with 12.0 ppg. Junior Amber Smith (Winter Haven, Fla.) and Carly Morrow (Chattanooga, Tenn.) round out the double-digit scoring, averaging 10.4 and 10.0 ppg, respectively.
Louisville (6-4) is coming off an 86-56 loss at No. 3 Tennessee on Wednesday. The Cardinals, who were picked to finish tied for third in the BIG EAST preseason coaches poll, have played six of their 10 games away from Freedom Hall.
Two players are averaging in double digits led by sophomore guard Becky Burke's 16.3 ppg. Sophomore Monique Reid follows with 14.0 ppg while pulling down a team-high 7.7 rebounds per game. Freshman Ashley Rainey nearly averages double figures with 8.9 ppg and is U of L's second-leading rebounder with 7.4 rpg.
"Louisville has plenty of talent to give us tremendous trouble," Mitchell said. "I'm very concerned about their size and strength inside. It's going to be our biggest challenge yet."
UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell Pregame Quotes
"It is significant that we went over that mark. A lot of people worked very hard. A lot of promotion went into it. We had five events trying to promote that. I'm really happy for our program. It's exciting for us. It's good news."
On if the team's 9-0 start contributing to passing 5,000 season tickets sold...
"It has contributed greatly to it. There is some excitement around the program. My view has always been that the best marketing tool we can have is to have a good team and have a team that people want to come watch."
"I don't want to diminish the efforts by our marketing department. The administration gives us resources. Everybody in the athletic department got behind it. We had a ton of volunteers, for instance, at our 5K race in the summer. People gave their time to try to help us. It was a combination of a lot of people."
"We've had great support here. We've had great fans here. We've been in the top 25 for several years in attendance. We just felt it was time to try to grow it a little bit. I'm glad we're able to be doing that."
On Sunday's game vs. Louisville...
"Our players need to come out motivated, ready to go, ready to play a tough and strong Louisville team that has great size and that is of concern. It will be a very, very hard-fought game. We'll need to do everything we can do to prepare to be successful on Sunday."
On if beating Louisville would be a big boost for UK moving forward...
"It would be great (to win). It's important for us as coaches to make our players understand what our formula for success is. We don't need to get lost in the fact that it's a big game and it's a rivalry game. But if you can come out on the other side with a win it would be great. It would be a lot of fun for our players I'm sure and it would be a tremendous boost. There's no denying that. It's not just another game. It's a big game."
"But what we've tried to tell our players is, `whatever you can use to for that to help you, great.' We don't need to get distracted by the opponent. We need to really stay focused on what our formula for success is and it's been pretty simple up to this point."
"This will be the toughest test by far (this season). Just because of the quality of talent they have and the quality of players they have and then the extra emotion in the game. This will be tough. It would be a great win, certainly."
On UK's formula for success to this point...
"It starts with our players being enthusiastic every day about playing at Kentucky, about playing for each other and about taking advantage of their opportunity that they have to be here. The reason we need to be so enthusiastic is because the first thing we are going to work on every single day is our defense and our defense intensity. It takes a lot of effort and energy to play defense the way this team has been playing it. So, you can't really come in everyday sort of thinking this is just another day. We're going to go at it hard. We have a very strenuous defensive fundamentals package we work on every single day."
"We try to tell the players it starts with enthusiasm and if we are able to play tough defense and win game nothing creates more enthusiasm than victories. So it sort of a snowball effect we're trying to get going."
"That's the formula is going to be tough defensive intensity and trying to make the other team work for every bucket. That's been the cornerstone so far."
On if Louisville is having a down year...
"I would not subscribe that Louisville is having a down year. Louisville has plenty of talent to give us tremendous trouble. I'm very concerned about their size and strength inside. It's going to be our biggest challenge yet. But will we take the floor trying to win the game? Absolutely. Do we have confidence in our players? Definitely. I think this is going to be a really, really tough game for us. So, we'll have to call on every bit of preparation and effort that we can muster to win this game."
On Louisville winning the last five games...
"I'm a big Kentucky fan. I want to see (the streak) end. It's what makes it fun about college athletics -- the rivalry games. But I want to see it end mainly because our basketball team has some momentum going right now and we need to try to continue that."
"We're not playing the last five games again. We're playing this game. It's important for our team to do that. Our team doesn't need to be caught up in breaking the streak. Our team doesn't need to get caught up in trying to prove something to somebody. Our team has played good basketball up to this point. We've told them nothing we have done before guarantee a result on Sunday. It's one game. As much as all of us would like to make of it, as a coach, it is my responsibility is make certain we stay focused on that. But personally, I'd love for us to win the game. It would be wonderful. But it is important for us to stay focused."
On the status of Victoria Dunlap...
"It's another big concern for us as we go into the game. She has not practiced as of yet. It's a day-to-day thing. There really is no formula. She has to respond to being about to exert herself and come away feeling good. That poses huge challenges if she is not able to play. There is no guarantee that she will. We have to be ready to take the floor without her and see if we can find a way to win."
"It's really hard to say. It's not a 50-50 kind of deal. It's whether she feels like, when she starts to exert herself, does the headache come back?"
"I was thinking from the game Sunday, the way she was feeling afterward, I was thinking she would have practiced by this time. Now we're into Friday and she hasn't. The responsible move for me right now is to make plans to play without her. Of course it's a bonus if she does play."