UK Hoops Travels to Middle Tennessee For Final Game of 2009
Dec. 27, 2009
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The undefeated Kentucky women's basketball team puts its school record-tying 11-game win streak on the line when the Wildcats take on Middle Tennessee State Monday, Dec. 28 in their final contest of 2009. The game will tip at 7 p.m. CST/8 p.m. EST in the Murphy Center and be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Radio Network with the Voice of UK Hoops and MTSU alumni, Neil Price, calling the action. Fans in Lexington can hear the game live on WLAP 630-AM.
“It is an important game for us,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “It is a game that we scheduled to get us prepared to go into conference play. It should be a really good crowd, a hostile environment and our team needs to get ready to function in those types of environments to go on the road in the SEC. It is a big game and we need to keep the momentum going. We will certainly have the opportunity to do that if we can get a win at Middle Tennessee.”
The game holds special meaning to one UK staffer as MTSU head coach Rick Insell is the father of UK assistant coach Matt Insell.
“Matt Insell has done a great job for us and is a tremendous asset to the program,” Mitchell said. “I think he has benefited greatly from growing up around the game. His dad is one of the really great coaches in our profession. I know it is special (for Matt). I am really proud of (Matt) though because he has stayed focused on the players. It will be Kentucky players against Middle Tennessee players and whoever executes better between the two groups will win. He has done a great job getting us ready for the game and we will go down there very excited.”
The Wildcats (11-0) are off to their best start in school history and have tied the program's longest win streak of 11 games set in 1983 from Jan. 6 to Feb. 9.
The key behind the best start in school history has been the Cats' defensive prowess. UK leads the nation in turnover margin (+11.3), having forced 20 or turnovers in nine of 11 games, including eight straight. UK has forced the last two opponents into 30-plus miscues.
Middle Tennessee State (5-4, 1-0) is coming off a 68-54 win over Western Kentucky in its conference opener last week. The Blue Raiders are 0-2 vs. SEC teams this season with losses to nationally-ranked LSU (61-40) and Tennessee (69-52). UK and MTSU also have a common opponent in Louisville. UK defeated the Cardinals 101-67 while Middle Tennessee took a 94-84 win in Freedom Hall.
Three players are averaging double figures for the Blue Raiders. Senior forward Alysha leads the charge, averaging 24.8 ppg while also leading the team in field-goal percentage (.638), rebounding (12.7 rpg) and minutes played (36.9). Seniors Jackie Pickel and Brandi Brown follow with 11.2 and 10.3 ppg, respectively. Brown also leads the team in blocks with 13 stuffs in nine games. Senior and Georgetown, Ky., native Chelsia Lymon leads the team in steals with 27 while also posting a team-high 26 assists.
“We wanted to test our team and I think Middle Tennessee will have a great crowd,' Mitchell said. “They will be a difficult team to play. They have really good players, they have an All-American in the middle and it is just a lot of things we will have to overcome to win the game. It is a great test for our team and I think they are excited for the opportunity.”
Four Wildcats are averaging double figures led by the reigning SEC Player of the Week Victoria Dunlap's (Nashville, Tenn.) 18.9 points per game. Dunlap also is the team's leading rebounder with 9.9 rpg. Freshman A'dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.) follows Dunlap in the scoring column with 12.2 ppg. Junior Amber Smith (Winter Haven, Fla.) and Carly Morrow (Chattanooga, Tenn.) round out the double-digit scorers, averaging 10.7 and 10.3, respectively.
UK holds a 9-2 lead in the all-time series against Middle Tennessee, including a 3-1 advantage on the road. This will mark the teams' first matchup in Murfreesboro since 1989. UK won 68-66 and the Cats' only loss on the road against the Blue Raiders was Nov. 17, 1978 (90-87).