Jan. 10, 2014
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 9/10 Kentucky women’s basketball team returns to the friendly confines of Memorial Coliseum when it plays host to the Missouri Tigers on Sunday, Jan. 12 at 5 p.m. ET. The game will be televised live on ESPNU with Melissa Lee and Maria Taylor calling the action. Fans can also watch a live video stream on WatchESPN, listen to the UK IMG Sports Radio Network with Neil Price or follow Twitter updates on @UKHoopCats.
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. Season tickets are also still available for just $65. Lower-level chair back seating ($80) is sold out.
“We have a tough challenge ahead of us on Sunday with a really good Missouri team,” UK Hoops head coach Matthew Mitchell said. “They are off to a good start in conference play and off to a good start with their entire season. They are really doing a great job with a high-powered offense and an amazing ability to get on the floor with five people who can score and can really shoot from the perimeter and they can do that to you a lot. They are an incredible 3-point shooting team. To shoot 40 percent as a team from 3-point line, a lot of times you enjoy if you have just a player or two that can shoot that well from behind the stripe and they’re doing it as a team. So it’s a really, really tough challenge for us. We’ll have our hands full defensively and we’ll have to work hard to earn a victory. We’re excited to be back at home, back at Memorial Coliseum, have a chance to compete with Missouri and see if we can get a victory.”
UK, which holds a 699-480 (59.2) overall record in 40 seasons of varsity women’s basketball, is 2-1 all-time vs. Missouri, 1-0 against the Tigers in Lexington. UK won last season’s matchup in Columbia, Mo., 69-43. This marks Missouri’s first trip to Kentucky as members of the Southeastern Conference and second trip since 1989.
The Wildcats (13-3, 1-2 SEC) look to get back on the winning track after dropping their last two league contests. It marks the first time UK has dropped back-to-back SEC games since losing three in a row in 2012 to LSU, No. 13/11 Tennessee and Alabama. UK went on to win the SEC regular season that season for the first time in 30 years with a 13-3 record, and advance to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight.
“I count on the experience as a coach to make sure that the players understand that if you look at our season in totality we are in good position,” Mitchell said. “If you focus on the last two games like most people do, then the sky is falling and everything is out of whack. As a coach, you rely on that experience and you need to let your players know that everything is not out of whack. There are some things that we need to get better at doing. We just need to practice well today and tomorrow and come out and give a supreme effort Sunday afternoon and beat Missouri. That is really all you have to focus on right now.”
Kentucky is pleased to have the experience of senior forward and All-America candidate DeNesha Stallworth (Richmond, Calif.) back on the court. Stallworth, who missed five games due to arthroscopic knee surgery on her left knee (Dec. 11), has returned to action and is averaging 7.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game, while shooting 50 percent from the floor (7-of-14) in her return. Overall, she is one of four players averaging double-digit scoring this season. She is the team’s leading scorer with 13.0 points per game, while junior point guard Jennifer O’Neill (Bronx, N.Y.) follows with 12.6 points per game. Senior guard Kastine Evans (Salem, Conn.) is averaging 11.2 and senior forward Samarie Walker (West Carrollton, Ohio) drops in 10.5 points per game apiece to go along with a team-high 9.6 rebounds per game.
Once again, Missouri (13-3, 2-1 SEC) is a deadly 3-point shooting team. The Tigers lead the SEC and rank fourth nationally in 3-point field goals made, averaging 10.2 per game overall and 10.0 in SEC games only. Mizzou is coming off a 66-56 win over No. 25 Georgia on Thursday at home. The Tigers’ first two league games were a win Ole Miss (85-76) and a loss at home to Arkansas (69-66).
Senior forward Bri Kulas is leading the Tigers in scoring at 18.2 points per game and is second in rebounding with 6.1 boards per contest. In league games only, Kulas leads the league in scoring with 22.7 ppg. Junior guard Morgan Eye, Mizzou’s leading career 3-point shooter, is the only other Tiger scoring in double figures at 11.8 points per game. She is averaging 3.3 treys per game, a mark that ranks ninth in the nation. Freshman guard/forward Jordan Frericks leads Mizzou in rebounding with 8.3 rebounds a game.
Please note that fans arriving approximately 1 hour or less before tip-off are highly encouraged to park at the Transit Center Parking Garage (see shuttle info below) or Parking Structure #5 next to Kennedy’s bookstore. Both are a 5-10 minute walk or a short shuttle ride over to the Coliseum. All surface lots near the Coliseum will likely be full one hour prior to tip-off and you will be re-directed to one of these options. Doors to Memorial Coliseum will open at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday.
- All E-lots (Employee Lots) surrounding Memorial Coliseum beginning 3 hours prior to tip-off
- Parking Structure #5 (adjacent to Kennedy’s Bookstore) –access from Limestone or Upper Street. Fans who park here need to pull a white ticket from the dispenser and exchange for a pink voucher with Event Staff at the entrances of the Coliseum.
- Lexington Authority Transit Center Parking Garage, located between High Street and Vine Street, is available on Sunday. If parking in this garage, bring the yellow token and game ticket to the Guest Service table at the Lexington Ave entrance to request a free parking coupon.
- 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.
- 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).
For more information on parking around Memorial Coliseum and other game-day questions visit www.ukathletics.com/wbbgameday.
Media Opportunity - January 10, 2014
“Well, we have a tough challenge ahead of us on Sunday with a really good Missouri team. They are off to a good start in conference play and off to a good start with their entire season. They are really doing a great job with a high-powered offense and an amazing ability to get on the floor with five people who can score and can really shoot from the perimeter and they can do that to you a lot. They are an incredible 3-point shooting team. To shoot 40 percent as a team from 3-point line, a lot of times you enjoy if you have just a player or two that can shoot that well from behind the stripe and they’re doing it as a team. So it’s a really, really tough challenge for us. We’ll have our hands full defensively and we’ll have to work hard to earn a victory. We’re excited to be back at home, back at Memorial Coliseum, have a chance to compete with Missouri and see if we can get a victory.”
On the focus over the next couple days after a loss …
“You focus on Missouri and what they do well and you construct your practice so you can get your players prepared to go out and compete for a victory on Sunday. And so right now you’re just trying to gather as much information that will help the players in practice and it was our message to the players last night: The most important thing on their mind right now is this afternoon’s practice and we have to get in and do some things better than what we’ve been doing and certainly get prepared for Missouri.”
On the team’s effort vs. South Carolina …
“Well, physical effort was there. We could have given some more emotional effort when we got in real difficult situations that are sort of out of your control. You have to be emotionally stronger to respond and keep your cool. I thought we got real rattled there at the end of the half with some really tough plays that you think should go one way and they don’t. You just have – and it’s hard to do – you have to be emotionally tough to just stay the course and keep playing. And so I think our physical effort was good. Our execution on offense last night was very frantic because I thought we got really upset with some situations in the game that didn’t allow us to really focus on what we needed to do. A tough call that goes against you, you have to find some way as a player and as coaches, no matter what those things look like, you have to find a way to keep going and keep your cool. We let a game that we should have probably been in the lead at halftime, because of some tough plays, get away from us and I thought it was a lack of poise. So we have to do better. So that was a good learning opportunity and I think that’ll be important for us on Sunday.”
On him recalling adversity from past seasons …
“Well, what I count on as a coach, I count on the experience as a coach to make sure that the players understand that if you look at our season in totality we are in good position. If you focus on the last two games like most people do, then the sky is falling and everything is out of whack. As a coach, you rely on that experience and you need to let your players know that everything is not out of whack. There are some things that we need to get better at doing. You know, I got some feedback from different people who are really concerned about our team and they love our team and they love what we are doing but they are not in practice every day and they don’t know exactly what all is going on. You have to tune that sort of stuff out, people that mean well, but who are maybe thinking that things are worse than they are. We just need to practice well today and tomorrow and come out and give a supreme effort Sunday afternoon and beat Missouri. That is really all you have to focus on right now.”
On the players balancing between a sense of urgency and keeping things in perspective …
“It is difficult to balance if you are thinking about winning games or what your record is going to be at the end of the season. If you are out there in the future and thinking about the future and all the consequences of everything, it is maybe hard to balance a sense of urgency and keeping your poise. Everything that we did last night as far as from losing your poise, was because the players are competitive and they want to win. So they were speeding up to try to get things done and that part of it, wanting to win and being competitive is good, you just have to channel it in a different direction. That is the great lesson that can be learned for our team right now. I didn’t walk into our film session today with a bunch of bad players in the room. There are a bunch of good players in there and they need to stay firmly planted in the process of getting ready for Missouri and when they do that good things will happen to them.”
On how you stop Missouri from 3-point range…
“You just really have to play great responsibility defense. You have to stay responsible for your player, you have to do a great job in this game of eliminating the drive which causes you to have to help which causes you to leave shooters and then you have to chase these kids all over. It’s a real task for us. Last year was one of the toughest games we’ve played and it was one of the best defensive efforts that we’ve had since I’ve been at Kentucky. We really, really chased them all over the place and made it difficult for them to score and limited them from the 3-point stripe. You have to really be committed, you have to have resolve and you have to have a lot of toughness heading into the game. Those were things the team exhibited last year that we’ll have to have again this year. You just cannot let this team ever get into a rhythm where they feel like they can start to have some success behind the 3-point stripe because they are deadly from back there. It’s a big, big task and this year they’ve done such a great job. They have some really good post players that can get inside and make plays. It’s a big time test ahead of us on Sunday.”
On if he watched film of Missouri’s win vs. Georgia…
“They got down 10 points in the first half and really kept their composure and kept running their stuff. They stayed real disciplined and then it was a two-point game at halftime. In the second half they were just able to really have a lot of success and execute well and put a lot of pressure on Georgia. They played real good defense, real good defense. Any time you hold a team in our conference to 56 points, you’ve played good defense. They had a complete game and really kept their composure after falling behind early and did a great job. They’re a very tough team and we’ll have our hands full Sunday.”
On DeNesha Stallworth’s performance vs. South Carolina…
“She had a great game. DeNesha had a great game and she did so many good things. I was very, very pleased with her and I thought she did a really nice job last night.”
On Stallworth getting back in the rotation and how that affects other player’s roles…
“She’s a major part of our team and has a major responsibility to do certain things on the team. We’ve done a good job of holding that together while she’s been out and while she’s been working herself back in. There’s no doubt the dynamic of the team will change, but I think it will really change for the better.”