Jan. 9, 2013
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The sixth-ranked Kentucky women's basketball team returns to Memorial Coliseum looking to extend its school-record 13-game winning streak and program-record tying 30-game home winning streak when it plays host to first-time opponent No. 20/21 Texas A&M on Thursday, Jan. 10 at 6 p.m. EST. The game will be televised live on the UK IMG Sports Network and Fox Sport South. It also will be available on WatchESPN.com and the UK IMG Sports Radio Network with Neil Price.
Fans can follow the UK Hoops team on Twitter at @UKHoopCats and use #UKHoops to comment on the game.
Single-game reserved tickets cost of $9 for all ages. General admission tickets for adults are $8 while single-game general admission tickets for seniors and children (ages 6-18, 65 and over) are only $5. UK faculty, staff and children ages five and under are admitted free in the general admission seating area, while supplies last.
The Cats' (14-1, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) winning streak leads the nation with Duke and their home winning streak ranks No. 2 nationally behind top-ranked Baylor's 47 consecutive home wins.
"We've certainly played some teams with talented players, but top to bottom, this is a very talented basketball team that Texas A&M brings to Memorial Coliseum," UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. "We'll have to play extremely hard and execute well. I think we'll have to be really sharp and focused tomorrow night because they definitely present a big challenge. I would just really implore the fans to come out and pack Memorial (Coliseum) tomorrow night. It would be a big, big help to us. I think it's going to be a great, great game. I think it will be worth the effort to make it out to Memorial Coliseum for a great game against Texas A&M."
The Wildcats are 2-0 to start SEC play for the second straight season after wins over Florida and Alabama last week. In the Florida game, four players scored in double digits led by senior All-America candidate A'dia Mathies' (Louisville, Ky.) season-high 20 points. Redshirt sophomore point guard Jennifer O'Neill (Bronx, N.Y.) charted 17 points, including 12 in the decisive second half, while junior center DeNesha Stallworth (Richmond, Calif.) notched a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds and sophomore guard Bria Goss (Indianapolis) added 10 points.
The Cats then traveled to Tuscaloosa, Ala., for their SEC road opener, picking up an 87-70 win. All five starters broke into the double-digit scoring column and three Wildcats had double-figure rebounds in a 54-30 rebounding advantage. Stallworth got her second straight double-double with a game-high 19 points to go along with 10 rebounds in just 21 minutes of action. Mathies scored all 17 of her points in just 16 minutes of the second half, nailing a career-high tying five 3-pointers. Junior forward Samarie Walker (West Carrollton, Ohio) charted her fifth double-double of the season with 15 points and a game-high 13 rebounds and senior Brittany Henderson (Pasadena, Calif.) came off the bench to record a season-best 11 rebounds. Goss netted 12 points and O'Neill reached double figures for the fourth-straight game, scoring seven of her 11 points in the second half.
Overall, Mathies lead the team in scoring, averaging 14.0 points per game. She also has a team-high 35 assists and 29 treys. She currently ranks in the top 10 of 11 career lists at UK, including No. 4 in scoring (1,645) and steals (276). She is one of only three players in UK Hoops history to chart over 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 300 assists and 200 steals in her career. She joins former Wildcats Leslie Nichols and Stacey Reed in that elite group.
In the front court, Stallworth (Richmond, Calif.) and Walker are giving Kentucky a dynamic inside presence this season. The duo combines to average 23.1 points, 14.5 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game. Both are also shooting over 50 percent from the floor.
The Cats' defense, often dubbed "40 minutes of dread", continues to dominate as they have held all but one opponent (then top-ranked Baylor) to .444 percent shooting or under. The Wildcats lead the nation in turnover margin at +10.5 by forcing 26.5 turnovers per game and committing only 15.9 per game.
No. 20/21 Texas A&M is 12-4 overall, 2-0 in SEC play. The Aggies are riding a four-game winning streak after wins over Alabama (91-52) at home and Arkansas (63-51) on the road.
Overall, junior center Kelsey Bone leads the Aggies and the SEC in scoring with 17.8 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. She has led the team in scoring each of the last nine games. Freshman guard Courtney Walker follows in the scoring column with 10.1 points per game.
Head coach Gary Blair is in his 28th overall season as a Division I head coach, his 10th at A&M. He currently ranks in the top 15 in career victories (626) and in the top 25 by winning percentage (.709) amongst Division I coaches. Blair is the all-time winningest coach in program history with 218 wins and a .701 winning percentage (218-93).
Spectator parking is located in the following areas:
- All E-lots surrounding Memorial Coliseum beginning 3 hours prior to tip-off
- Parking Structure #5 (adjacent to Kennedy's Bookstore).
- Lexington Authority Transit Center Parking Garage (new for the 2012-13 season).
- The Lexington Parking Authority Transit Center Parking Garage, located between High Street and Vine Street, is available for parking after 5 p.m. ET during the week and all day on the weekends. Additionally, a free shuttle service will pick up in the LR Cooke Lot near the corner of High Street and Martin Luther King beginning 1.5 hours prior to tip.
- Handicap parking is available in the E-Lot (Employee Lot) north of the Craft Center, adjacent to the metered spaces running along the frontage of the Craft Center with a valid, state issued handicap tag. These spaces (typically 20-30 stalls) are available on a first-come, first-serve basis until full.
Please note: parking is prohibited in any R (Residential) lots. Vehicles parking in Residential lots without a proper permit, along yellow curbs, grass spaces, or other non-specified and unapproved areas may be subject to ticket and/or tow. Also, due to new dorm construction, the Good Samaritan hospital employee parking lot is no longer available for use.
- Shuttles are available beginning 1.5 hours prior to tip off from Parking Structure # 5 located off Limestone and Upper Street and the Transit Center Parking Garage located off High Street and Vine Street.
- Parking Structure # 5 (blue route) picks up/drops off on Administration Drive, at the end of the pedestrian sky bridge accessed from the 3rd floor of the parking garage.
- Transit Center Parking Garage (green route) picks up/drops off near the corner of High Street and Martin Luther King.
- Shuttles will start back up 1.5 hours after tip-off (to return guests to their parking areas).
Game day Information:
- Doors to the Coliseum will open one (1) hour prior to tip-off.
- 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, Joe Craft Center North and LR Cooke lot) typically reach capacity approximately 45 minutes prior to tip-off, at which point, vehicles should proceed to Parking Structure #5 (PS#5) or the Lexington Authority Transit Center Parking Garage.
For more information on parking around Memorial Coliseum and other game-day questions visit www.ukathletics.com/wbbgameday
Media Opportunity - Jan. 9, 2013
"Well a big challenge ahead of us tomorrow night with a really talented team. I think probably the most talented team we've played in a while. We've certainly played some teams with talented players, but top to bottom, this is a very talented basketball team that Texas A&M brings to Memorial Coliseum. We'll have to play extremely hard and execute well. I think we'll have to be really sharp and focused tomorrow night because they definitely present a big challenge. I would just really implore the fans to come out and pack Memorial (Coliseum) tomorrow night. It would be a big, big help to us. I think it's going to be a great, great game. I think it will be worth the effort to make it out to Memorial Coliseum for a great game against Texas A&M."
On Azia Bishop's health…
"Azia's looking at probably three or four games out. A crack in her wrist, a very small crack, so it could have been worse. The blow to her head was not a major concussion or anything, so that was good news. She's in a splint right now and we're looking at 10-14 days, so that's probably going to be about three or four games. She can shoot through this time. She can do some cardio. So we'll just try to focus on her getting better as a shooter and make this time as beneficial as she can be. But she will not be available for three or four games."
On looking at Texas A&M as a model program for UK…
"I have looked at their program as a model in many ways. I just think it's incredible what (Head) Coach (Gary) Blair has done there. If you think about where they were, I think before they got there, they had recently gone winless in the conference. They went 0-16 one year. And so Coach Blair is one of the best coaches around. He's done an unbelievable job there. I don't think a lot of people expected it, so that is very inspirational to everyone who's in a program that's maybe not one of the traditional powers. When we were looking to go to pressure defense, I called out there to Vic Schaefer, who's the coach at Mississippi State now. He was running the defense at Texas A&M. We watched how they played and we were inspired by that four years ago. I've looked at their program and admired that for many years, and I think we've got a great, great athletics program as a whole in the Southeastern Conference and it's definitely adding to the quality to women's basketball. So I have a lot of admiration and respect for Texas A&M women's basketball."
On what makes this game special…
"I'll tell you what makes this game special is that they are such a great team, and we feel like we have a good team, and just the challenge of being able to play in this type of game where the winner's going to come out in a really good spot. It's still early in the season and I just think it's a great, entertaining basketball game. We're just really excited that our program's at a point where we're in a game that people care about and that matters and I think it that it will be one of the best games in the country. So that's what's special about tomorrow night, the players that are going to get out there and see who can win."
On the challenges Texas A&M presents UK…
"They're really, really solid talent-wise from top to bottom. They run a bunch of different things offensively, so that puts a real stress on you defensively. They can score in a lot of different ways. The best post tandem we have seen this year since the Baylor game, (Kristi) Bellock and (Kelsey) Bone are really, really good post players. They're bench is strong in the post when they come off the bench and I just think that their overall talent and their ability to score and defend you, that they're just one of the top teams in the country. They will definitely challenge us tomorrow night. We'll have to play well to win."
On how Texas A&M's post players affect UK's rotation…
"That's what's so great about us is that I feel good about our matchups too. I think we have a great chance to win the game because out players are talented too. This is a game that's just going to come down to who's able to execute better and who's able to persevere and hang in and maybe get a break here or there. It's a very evenly matched game and I feel like we have some great players that we're going to put on the floor too. It won't change a lot what we do. We'll try to play as close to our identity as we can. That's what we try to do each and every time we take the floor and it will be exciting to see how we match up with Texas A&M tomorrow night."
On Samarie Walker and DeNesha Stallworth…
"I think that you see two really talented offensive players who are hustling on defense who maybe earlier in their careers there was a knock on them that they were just offensive players and not very good defensive players. You see Samarie leading our team in steals and rebounding and DeNesha is really giving great effort on the defensive end. We're a little different. We're not forcing as many turnovers maybe in some games, but we're able to block shots at a higher level than we've ever been able to in the last three or four years. We definitely can control the backboards when we assert ourselves. I was so proud of them on Sunday for really asserting themselves on the backboard. When they're motivated and really in-tune with what's going on, they can be real tough rebounding so we can finish possessions with the rebound where we used to kind of rely on turning someone over. They've made us a little different, a little bit bigger presence in the lane. I still think we're playing good defense, but then you go to the other end of the floor and they're just really tough to guard and they're playing well together and they like each other, and they care about each other, and they have a strong connection, and I see them really encouraging each other. Those kinds of things really help you as you think about a team sport like basketball. I just think that having players that care about each other is really, really important. Those two kids are playing really well together now."
On differences between Walker and Stallworth…
"Their games are a little bit different. I'm trying to get them to play with a lot of power. Samarie is probably a little bit more power around the basket, and DeNesha certainly can be, but she can step out a little bit better. You know, their personalities off the court are sort of similar. They have a good sense of humor and good positive outlook. I think it's one of the real fortunate things in our program's development in the last couple years for those two kids to come to Kentucky, and I'm really grateful they're here."
On Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair saying he expects 40 minutes of pressure …
"Absolutely. We are going to play a full-court game defensively. We are still playing a full-court game we just aren't trapping as much as we have in the past. We are still going to try to make them catch it as close to the baseline as we can and work for 90 feet or so to get the ball to the basket. We will definitely try to get that done and that is just one of the things that our players have paid the price to be able to do. We need to play with a lot of energy. The one thing I think our team is doing a great job of is giving people heck on offense coming back at you. The tempo is really tough. If you make a basket, you have to be ready to run back to the other end because Jennifer O'Neil she is really doing what I want her to do. It is like she is shot out of a gun right now and is a bullet going down the court. That is what we need. Then you have to have post players that will run to the rim and we have that right now. I think that it might be a little bit different, but I still think it is a 40 minute game and 40 minutes of pressure. While we may not be trapping and rotating all over the floor, we definitely want to have a full-court game Thursday night."
On Janee Thompson and if she got the message from not play at Alabama…
"It is too soon to tell if the message has been sent clearly. We will evaluate that over a series of practices. It is not a complicated set of circumstances we have here. We just need great focus and effort and desire in practice. There is no way I can know you are going to do that in a game. It really starts there. It is too soon to tell, we have just had one practice since Sunday. I will be encouraging her to practice really hard today and we will see what messages have been received."
On having the Florida game to open up conference play …
"I think the first conference game against a quality opponent like Florida always helps you measure where you are, for me anyway. I don't know how everybody else is. There is always still a bit of uncertainly. I have so much respect for the conference and how people play and the quality of athletes and players in this league and the quality of coaching that I am always a bit apprehensive to that first one to are we really ready to step up when the games matter most. It was very helpful to play a tough game and to perform well and to beat an opponent when they are playing extremely well. We certainly made some mistakes but we did a lot of good things. That was a great game for us and a very valuable win. We always are trying to work on our press to make you catch it as close to the baseline as possible so anytime they throw it over our heads and go shot a layup that is an opportunity to learn and get better. That is something that we don't want to do. When you are exposed to that and it happens it gives you a chance to go back and practice that and the players to redouble to make sure that doesn't happen. Those were some things that were valuable in the Florida game."
On a chance to break the school's home consecutive winning streak …
"The biggest thing and most important thing that a win tomorrow night would be that we have beaten a really good team. For this team, that is what tomorrow night is about. Is going 3-0 in the conference and beat a team we have great respect for. I will be thrilled if we could win it. The winning streak would be something we could look back on at a later time. That would be something if we ran it out through the end of the year that we would be very excited about. The thing that would be so exciting about tomorrow night would be finding a way to beat Texas A&M means we just found a way to beat a very good team. That is what I would be excited about. I will just say this, I am very proud of every player that has worked so hard to create that. Thirty games in a row over three seasons is hard to achieve. I really have respect for our players for the effort they have put in and really have respect for all the fans, it has been thousands of people that have come in there and been a part of that. We want it to go on as long as it can. We want it to go on forever. It probably won't, but we are sure going to try like heck to extend one more night at least."
On Kelsey Bone and the problems the presents …
"She presents a lot of problems for whoever she is playing because she is so talented and so big. She has really long arms and a great presence in the paint and very good shooter around the basket. She does a great job of using her body to get positioned on you so she can score. She is a good rebounder and is just piling up tremendous statistics. Physically, she is so imposing and they do a great job of playing around her and helping her get open and get the ball. They matchup I am most concerned with is on the perimeter. If you played a bunch of one-on-one games, maybe (Brittney) Griner would beat her, but if you played one-on-one with Kelsey Bone she would beat a lot of people I can tell you that. We have to really do a good job of making sure they can't find her as often as they would like. They are going to find her some, she is just a really good player. The post defense, the job is on the guard to really do a good job tomorrow night to keep the ball out of the paint."
On the team's home-court advantage …
"I think our home court is the best home court in the SEC just because of how passionate our fans are and how our fans were turning out before we had any type of streak like this. That is why I respect our fans so much. We were getting great crowds when we were 16-16 and quite frankly I didn't enjoy watching us play very much and we would still have 4,000-5,000 people come watch us play. To me, it is the best because they just love Kentucky and they love women's basketball and it is really an honor and a privilege to go out there and play and coach and that is why we try to work so hard in the summer and in the offseason to prepare ourselves. That is why we try to communicate to the players how special it is because these folks really work hard to spend the money to come and the time and the effort to come. We just try to honor them with a great effort every time out. I think we have the best home court in the SEC and we might have some argument with that. But that is my opinion and I am really, really appreciative to everybody that makes it such a great place to play."