The Wildcats face Tennessee, looking for their first SEC Championship since 1982
O'Neill, Harper add 12 points each
Goss scores 14 to lead Kentucky; Cats await Tennessee/Texas A&M in Finals
Kentucky 68, South Carolina 58
The Wildcats advance to their fifth straight semifinal appearance with a win over Florida
UK practiced for the third time this fall on Thursday.
Kentucky women's basketball head coach Matthew Mitchell previews the Sweet 16 and matchup with Delaware.
Mitchell Previews Miami (Ohio)
UK Hoops will take on Morehead State at 4 p.m. on Friday in Memorial Coliseum.
UK Hoops rebounded from its first loss of the season with a win over High Point on Saturday.
Hoops vs. Tennessee, SECT Finals, 030914
UK Hoops defeated the South Carolina Gamecocks 68-58 in the Semifinal round of the SEC Tournament
UK Hoops defeated the Florida Gators 75-70 during their first game in the SEC Tournament on Friday, March 7, 2014
UK Hoops defeated Vanderbilt 65-63 during their Senior Day game on Sunday, March 1, 2014 in Memorial Coliseum.
UK Hoops fell to South Carolina 81-58 on Thursday, February 20. 2014, in Lexington's Memorial Coliseum.
Kentucky head coach Matthew Mitchell's teams are known for using three "winning tools" for success: honesty, hard work and discipline. So it's no surprise that in just six seasons at the helm, Mitchell is now UK's all-time winningest coach with 144 wins and year-after-year he assembles teams who are synonymous with winning on and off the court.
Mitchell's defensive philosophy, implemented at the beginning of the 2009-10 season, is a big reason for Kentucky's success. The Wildcats use a full-court, trapping, pressure style of defense that has been dubbed by many as "40 minutes of dread." Since introducing this signature style of play have advanced to a school-record four consecutive NCAA tournaments, including Elite Eight appearances in three of the last four seasons. UK has finished in the top three of the Southeastern Conference race three straight seasons, including winning the SEC regular season championship in 2012, its first in 30 years. The Cats have advanced to the SEC Tournament championship game three of the last four years and have charted 25-plus wins four straight seasons, one of just 11 schools in the country to accomplish that feat. The Wildcats have ranked in the top 25 of both national polls 67 consecutive weeks, including ending the 2012-13 season with the highest ranking in school history at No. 7.
Mitchell's teams have brought excitement for women's basketball in the Bluegrass like never before. The Cats have ranked in the top 25 in average attendance all six years of the Mitchell era, and have recorded a remarkable 64-3 record at home over the last four seasons.
Under Mitchell, 10 different players have received All-SEC accolades. A UK player has won the AP SEC Player of the Year four straight seasons, the first school in SEC history to do so. Two of his players, Victoria Dunlap and A'dia Mathies, were drafted in the first round of the WNBA. Dunlap was the 11th overall pick by the Washington Mystics in the 2011 Draft, while Mathies was the highest draft pick in school history, chosen as the 10th overall pick by the Los Angeles Sparks in the 2013 WNBA Draft.
His players also excel in the classroom. Twelve Wildcats have been SEC Academic Honor Roll members and 100 percent of his players in their final season of eligibility have received their degree.
In 2012-13, Mitchell assembled one of the most successful seasons in UK Hoops history. The Wildcats won a school-record 30 games and advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive season and third in the last four years. The Cats set school records for consecutive wins (17), consecutive home wins (34), 3-point field goals made (240), 3-point field goals attempted (731), blocks (181) and steals (429) in a single season. They also won a school-record tying 13 games in SEC play, and advanced to the SEC Tournament championship game for the third time in the last four seasons.
Mitchell, a former assistant coach under Mickie DeMoss at Kentucky, was named the head coach in the spring of 2007 when DeMoss resigned as head coach after four seasons at the helm.
When Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart interviewed Mitchell, he was the head coach at Morehead State and fresh off two exciting campaigns in which he had revived a declining Lady Eagles women's basketball program with a 30-29 record (.508) - the third-highest coach's winning percentage in school history.
Mitchell's two-year MSU conference record of 24-16 (.600) marks the second-highest OVC winning percentage in school history. He was only the third coach in the program's history to post an overall winning record during his tenure.
Barnhart also was impressed with Mitchell's coaching pedigree. He had served as an assistant coach and recruiter at Florida under Carol Ross beginning in 2000. He helped the Gators compile a 51-36 record, and during his first two seasons the Gators recorded a 19-9 league record en route to two NCAA Tournament (2001 and 2002) appearances. With Mitchell's help, the Gators had a program-tying 24 wins and tied the school record with 11 SEC wins in 2001. He stayed at Florida to serve under then-new UF Coach Carolyn Peck during the 2002-03 season. As the primary recruiter at UF, Mitchell brought in the nation's ninth-ranked recruiting class in 2002 and the No. 2-ranked class by All-Star Girls Report in 2003.
The Louisville, Miss., native began his collegiate coaching career as a graduate assistant at Tennessee under Hall of Fame Coach Pat Summitt during the Lady Vols' run to the Final Four in 2000. UT advanced to the national championship game before losing to top-ranked Connecticut. The Lady Vols finished No. 2 in the national polls with a 33-4 overall record and a 13-1 mark in the SEC.
Prior to his stint at Tennessee, Mitchell spent one year in Yazoo City, Miss., as a coach and teacher at Manchester Academy. He taught American history and served as both the boys' and girls' head basketball coach.
A 1995 graduate of Mississippi State, Mitchell's first head-coaching experience came in 1996 at Central Holmes Academy High School in Lexington, Miss. Mitchell performed multiple duties at the school, including head coach of both basketball teams as well as the track and golf teams. He also served as the defensive coordinator for the football team.
Mitchell, 42, is married to Jenna Ramsey Mitchell of Amelia Island, Fla., and they have two daughters, Lacy Mitchell, of Starkville, Miss and Saylor Rose. They are expecting their third daughter in October. The couple is very active in community service as Jenna serves on the board of the Children's Advocacy Center and Matthew volunteers his time for several area charities and organizations. Matthew also is an honorary Rotarian in the Lexington chapter.