UK Hoops Meets Arkansas Pine-Bluff in Memorial
Dec. 20, 2010
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The 11th-ranked Kentucky women's basketball team looks to extend its 22-game home winning streak when it plays host to Arkansas Pine-Bluff in Memorial Coliseum Tuesday, Dec. 21 at 7 p.m. EST. It will mark the Wildcats' final game before breaking for the holiday. The game will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Radio Network with Neil Price and online at UKathletics.com.
UK (8-1) is coming off a resounding 84-58 win over Alabama A&M on Saturday at home. Four players scored in double-figures paced by a game-high 22 points from senior forward Victoria Dunlap (Nashville, Tenn.). Sophomore guard A'dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.) followed with 16 points while all 15 of junior guard Keyla Snowden's (Lexington, Ky.) points came from her game-high five three-pointers. Sophomore Brittany Henderson (Pasadena, Calif.) earned her second career starting spot and didn't disappoint. The 6-foot-2 forward charted a career-high 11 points and four steals and pulled down a game-high six rebounds.
The Lady Lions (0-7) are searching for their first win of the season after falling to Central Arkansas on Saturday. Senior guard Laquisha Slaton had 17 points while senior guard Jasmine Abrams and sophomore forward Jenise Gentry followed with 16 and 10 points, respectively.
"Arkansas Pine-bluff has played just a murderous schedule against a lot of really tough teams on the road, including Alabama, Mississippi State and SMU," UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. "The main thing that I really would like to see tomorrow night is just a tremendous commitment to the defensive end by our team and working as hard as we can to have our best outing yet as far as from a pressure standpoint. That was the focus in practice today. We had a good practice and good preparation and we will be looking to really working hard tomorrow night to earn a victory."
UK's pressure defense has been its forte once again this season. The Wildcats forced Alabama A&M into 31 turnovers, resulting in 36 Wildcat points. UK, which currently ranks eighth nationally in turnover margin (+9.1) and 16th in steals per game (13.1), have forced 20 or more turnovers in seven of nine games, including three with 30 or more and have double-digit steals in six games this season.
Dunlap, who leads the Cats in almost every statistical category, is nearing several milestones in her illustrious career. The All-American needs four rebounds to become just the third player in school history to pull down 900 or more in her career and she is just four points shy of moving into the top 10 on UK's all-time scoring list (1,441 career points). She currently ranks in the top 10 of 10 other UK career lists.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff has two players averaging 10-plus points in Abrams and Slaton. Abrams adds a team-high 12.8 points per game, while Slaton follows closely behind with 12.2 points per game.
The Cats are 1-0 all-time vs. the Lady Lions. The last meeting was Dec. 17, 2006 in Rupp Arena and UK handled them easily, 83-46. Kentucky is 7-0 all-time, 1-0 this season vs. teams from the Southwest Athletic Conference.
Season and single-game tickets are on sale now. Season tickets in the upper level chair backs, lower level bleachers and general admission season ticket areas are only $45. Lower level chair backs are $60 for the season. Single-game reserved seats are $7 (regardless of age) while general admission tickets are $7 for adults and $4 for youth/seniors. UK students, faculty and staff are admitted free with valid identification. To purchase tickets, visit the Joe Craft Center in person, call 1-800-928-2287 or go online at UKathletics.com.
Women's basketball parking is available in the following surface lots for Tuesday's game:
- Student Center Lot - off Euclid Ave
- MLK Lot - the entire MLK lot from Euclid to the Wildcat Lodge.
- Joe Craft Center North E-Lot - large lot located north of the Joe Craft Center and accessible via Lexington Avenue or Rose Street.
- Good Samaritan surface Lot - accessible off Martin Luther King Boulevard
Parking Structure #5 - entrances off Limestone and S. Upper.
- Doors to the Coliseum will open one hour prior to tipoff.
- 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, MLK and Good Samaritan) typically reach capacity approximately 30-45 minutes prior to tipoff, at which point, vehicles should proceed to Parking Structure #5.
- Please note the Parking Structure #5 Shuttle will NOT be available on Dec. 21, Dec. 29 & Dec. 30.
- 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
Pregame Press Conference
Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell
Opening Statement ...
"Arkansas Pine-Bluff has played just a murderous schedule against a lot of really tough teams on the road, including Alabama, Mississippi State and SMU - just some really difficult road games for them. I am sure this is going to be a team that has been up against some really tough competition. As I look at them on film, a couple of kids that stand out are (LaQuisha) Slaten and (Jasmine) Abrums. They are double-digit scorers and have some athleticism that could give us some problems. The main thing that I really like to see tomorrow night is just a tremendous commitment to the defense end by our team and working as hard as we can to have our best outing yet as far as from a pressure standpoint. That was the focus in practice today. We had a good practice and good preparation and we will be looking to really work hard tomorrow night to earn a victory."
On if the team has been giving him what the wants defensively in practice and in games ...
"I thought that in practice this past week it wasn't where we needed it to be. They did a much better job in the game Saturday and that gives me some optimism about tomorrow night. I just think every game is an opportunity to improve and I just know as we are preparing, and it is starting to get close to conference play, that our commitment to defense has to be there. I don't think that is something that you just turn on because SEC time is here. Tomorrow night, I will be measuring our commitment level. Whoever the opponent may be you have to mentally and emotionally get yourself ready to get out and give it all you have. That is something that the team hasn't done to my satisfaction yet. That is why we are so keyed in to see if we can get that done tomorrow night."
On if it is tough to get the players focused given Christmas is here and they are out of school ...
"I think that it is from their standpoint, certainly from the coach's point of view we are not looking at it that way. We have to be aware of that. I didn't talk about or plant anything in their mind about the holidays because it is there. I am trying to make certain (that the players know) that there is only an finite number of opportunities to play at Kentucky. Whether you are going home for the holidays or be here for three more weeks you need to take that seriously. I just think that anytime we let an opportunity slip by then they won't enjoy the holidays nearly as much as if they go out and really do a great job for themselves tomorrow night and prove that we are a team that can get mentally prepared and commit to playing hard. I know that they will feel much better about themselves if they give their best."
On UCONN's record-breaking winning streak ...
"We have won three in a row and I am pretty happy about that. It would be difficult for me to even fathom 88 in a row. It is just remarkable. It is remarkable and a lot of different kids have been a part of that and different coaches on that staff. I haven't paid that close of attention to it so I don't know how long that is but it is a lot of different people having risen to the occasion every single time and it is unbelievable. I absolutely respect their ability to get that done."
On what it does for women's basketball in general ...
"I think that it is wonderful if anyone that has not seen our game has now been exposed to it, because I think that it is an interesting sport. I think if people were exposed to it more they would enjoy it. We are very fortunate to have an event like that and we need to try to capitalize on that. I have always said this that here in Lexington we have a really, really strong group of fans and the better that we play the more that fan base will grow. I think that people want to see a quality product, whether it is a good basketball team or a good baseball team or a good football team. I think that is tremendous for our sport for them to have done that. Some people would say otherwise but I respect excellence and they have been excellent."
On Brittany Henderson's recent play ...
"I was pleased with Brittany and her effort on Saturday. Brittany must play with an edge to her game and a chip on her shoulder. She must play with a physical, hard-nosed mindset. She also, with that, needs to bring along her skill set. We have been working hard with her to be a two-handed offensive player. Because of her size, she is going to play against a lot of post players that are bigger than her. When those two things come together then she can play in this league and be a factor at Kentucky because we value people that play hard and have a hard-nosed attitude. The thing that I am trying to talk to her about is when she doesn't bring that she becomes pretty average. She needs to be building on that success she had Saturday but she doesn't need for one second to feel like she has it all together now. Every day that Brittany Henderson comes to the gym she has to be thinking that she has to be the hardest working post player in this gym no matter where she is. When she does that, and I have seen her do that before, I have seen her have that kind of attitude over a long period of time. As a coach, I have to do a better job of reminding her that. She is not a kid that can get into a relax mode and go through the motions. She has to bring it every day. When she does that I really like her game and I think that is the key to it."
On if he initiated the conversation with Brittany Henderson...
"I just initiated it because I was not pleased watching her in practice and then going back to review the film. There are so many times where she is not what I just described and she doesn't have a chance to be what she can be when those things happen. I think that I was telling someone earlier that I had my hands full with all these young players. Well, she is a young player, too, as a sophomore. On this team that makes you almost like a grandmother. I have done a poor job of communicating with her and I needed to have that direct communication with her. Whether that had anything to do with it I don't know. I think a little kick in the pants is good for all of us sometimes when we are in a bit of a lull. She practiced well today and I will be expecting a good showing from her tomorrow but that will only happen if she approaches it from a correct mental standpoint."
On the one thing that makes Arkansas Pine-Bluff dangerous ..."
"I think that for a team like us that plays pressure defense, their offensive system can spread you out and they make really hard cuts. They have a lot of action going in the opposite direction. They will have a player cutting through the set and then a player coming to screen on the ball. It makes it difficult if they get you spread out and you are really not sharp with your fundamentals. I think that they have some size that if we are not really locked in they could hurt us on the boards. But just the way they spread the floor is probably what has me most concerned. If you are not totally focused against that kind of offensive system then it can make you look bad."