Wildcats Look for Better Road Effort on Sunday

Kentucky head coach Matthew Mitchell saw his team struggle last weekend as they hit the road in the SEC for the first time this season. The Wildcats led Auburn by 17 points in the second quarter, only to see the Tigers rally in the second half to win 66-61, handing Kentucky its first loss of the season in the process.

Mitchell hopes that performance was just a blip on the radar.

“I would need to see a couple of more performances like that on the road to think it was a trend,” Mitchell said. “I’ll go back and try to figure out what happened. I don’t think it’s a road thing.”

The game clearly marked Kentucky’s worst performance of the season. The Wildcats turned the ball over 26 times and shot just 39 percent from the floor, including a one-for-12 (8.3 percent) performance from three-point range.

The Wildcats put all of that behind them on Thursday night as they thumped Alabama 73-48 in the friendly confines of Memorial Coliseum. But on Sunday, Mitchell and his team go back on the road, visiting Georgia at Stegeman Coliseum.

“Our team had a real challenge on the road last Sunday that we didn’t handle very well,” Mitchell said. “We’re going to have to prepare well and go play at our very highest level to get a victory on Sunday.”

Georgia is 12-3 on the season and 0-2 in SEC play, which makes Sunday’s contest even more important for the Lady Bulldogs, who can ill afford to fall to 0-3 in the league.

“We’ll have one of our toughest games of the year on Sunday at Georgia,” Mitchell said. “I know Georgia is going to come out and play extremely hard.”

Senior point guard Janee Thompson has been through many SEC road battles, and she knows that she can help her team get into a proper mindset before tipoff.

“I’ve got to make sure that we come out with the right attitude and the right energy and make sure we have the right body language in approaching the game,” Thompson said. “I think if we can do that, and listen to coach and his instructions, I think we’ll be in any game.”

For Thompson and her teammates, the Auburn game could serve as a teachable moment.

“After watching the (Auburn) film, we realized we played poorly, but most of that came from our effort and our energy,” Thompson said. “We had pretty low energy in the second half and when things weren’t going our way, we didn’t respond well. That’s not how we need to play. We need to be resilient, and that’s one of the things we took away from Auburn.”

The head coach and his point guard are clearly on the same page when it comes to effort.

“I’m expecting us to go down and play as hard as we can play,” Mitchell said of Sunday’s game at Georgia.

“We’ve got to play harder than our opponent, that’s what we’re known for,” Thompson said.

And if the Wildcats can go on the road and get a victory at Georgia, they will put to rest any lingering questions about last week’s loss to Auburn.