Kentucky (15-6, 4-4) Thursday, Feb. 9 - 7:00 p.m. ET
at South Carolina (12-8, 3-5)
- Columbia, S.C.
- Feb. 8 |
The Kentucky women’s basketball team looks to snap a two-game losing streak when it travels to Columbia, S.C., Thursday, Feb. 9 to take on South Carolina. Tip-off in the Colonial Center is set for 7 p.m. EST and the game will be carried live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio) with Neil Price.
Kentucky (15-6, 4-4 Southeastern Conference), which defeated the Gamecocks 72-60 earlier this season in Lexington, is beginning a stretch that will see the Wildcats play four of their next five games on the road. The Cats are looking to bounce back from a 68-61 loss to Florida on Sunday in Lexington. UK out-rebounded the Gators 47-40, but hit just 16-of-27 free throws. Sophomores Samantha Mahoney (Detroit) and Sarah Elliott (McKee, Ky.) came off the bench to lead the Cats with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
“This is definitely a game where we need to go down and play well,” UK Coach Mickie DeMoss said. “They are coming off two wins and we are coming off two losses. It is going to be interesting to see which team is the hungriest. I think it is interesting when it boils down to February, to see each teams’ motivation and endurance. We are going to be on the road and it is a challenge. We have proven we can play well on the road. We just have to get that focus back and meet that challenge.”
A balanced UK scoring attack is led by junior guard Jenny Pfeiffer (North Vernon, Ind.), who has come off the bench in all 21 games this season. She is averaging a squad-best 11.4 points per game and ranked sixth in the nation in free-throw shooting percentage (92.4). Mahoney and Elliott follow with 11.3 and 10.5 ppg, respectively. Senior forward/center Jennifer Humphrey (Memphis) is the team’s leading rebounder, averaging 9.1 boards per game. She ranks fourth in the SEC in rebounding and her mark is the best rebounding average by a Wildcat since Leslie Nichols averaged 9.1 rebounds as a junior in 1984-85.
This is the 36th meeting in the all-time series between Kentucky and South Carolina. UK leads the series 21-14, but USC holds a 10-5 advantage when the game is played in Columbia. The Gamecocks have won five of the last six meetings in Columbia, including a 60-47 victory last season in the Colonial Center. UK’s last win over South Carolina, the Cats’ permanent home-and-home opponent, in Columbia came in 2004, a 75-61 UK win on Jan. 25.
“South Carolina has not changed a lot since the first time we played them,” DeMoss said. “They are playing nine people consistently. They are big, they press and they run a multiple defense. Not much has changed since we played them the first time except it will be on the road instead of at home. It’s always tough to play on the road in this league.”
The Gamecocks (12-8, 3-5 SEC) have won three of their last four league games after claiming a 51-46 win at Mississippi State last Sunday. No USC player is averaging double figure points and reserve Stacy Booker leads the team with 9.5 ppg, while Melanie Johnson follows with 9.0 ppg. The Gamecocks are 14-3 during Johnson’s career when she has scored in double figures. Junior forward Iva Sliskovic is the squad’s leading rebounder, averaging 5.8 rpg.
Johnson led USC with 18 points against the Bulldogs and received 11 points and nine rebounds from sophomore center Ilona Burgrova, holding Mississippi State to just 23.9 percent shooting from the field.
Press Conference Quotes - Feb. 8
Head Coach Mickie DeMoss
“This is definitely a game where we need to go down and play well. It would be great to get a win down there. They are coming off two wins and we are coming off two loses. It is going to be interesting to see which team is the hungriest. I think it is interesting when it boils down to Februrary to see each teams' motivation and endurance. The season is getting long right now. They have not changed a lot since the first time we played them. They are playing a lot of people. They are playing nine people consistently. They are big, they press and they run a multiple defense. Not much has changed since we played them the first time except it will be on the road instead of at home.”
On Kentucky's two losses last week…
“At Georgia, that was just a tough game. I think Georgia is a very good team. I have to give them a lot of credit for the way they played down there. We couldn’t do a whole lot to stop the bleeding. Florida got down to a one or two possession ballgame there at the end. We did not make the plays at the end of the game that we needed to make. We got a three-point play by Elliott and we came down and turned the ball over a couple times and didn’t box out. Little things like that, when you get down to the end of the game, is just maybe a lack of intensity. That can cost you the game. I thought we rebounded well. If you have to name one statistic, it would be free throws. Free throws could have won the game for us.”
On four of the next five games being on the road…
“We are finishing February. The conference never does us any favors in February it seems like. We are going to be on the road and it is a challenge. We have proven we can play well on the road. We just have to get that focus back and meet that challenge.”
On if the remainder of the schedule being “winnable”…
“They are winnable. The positive side of it is that we have the “big three” of LSU, Tennessee and Georgia out of the way. I know some of my colleagues still have to face that. They are winnable games. Every team in the conference on any night can beat anybody. We look at it and say it is very do-able, but it will take tremendous effort and focus.”
On potential postseason seeding…
“I think we have to be careful with that. If we say we have to win so many and we get down to the last two games and we haven’t done that then they will say ‘what are we playing for’? Yesterday, I walked in and said this is our season and held up a piece of paper with our six games on it. We have six games left in the regular season. If we can start the slate clean here and play six games. The season can get overwhelming at times. It is like this big elephant and we are still chewing on it and it doesn’t seem like it is getting smaller.”
On if Kentucky likes the underdog role…
“We are getting ready to see. We did early when the season started. We got off to a good start in conference play. After the Tennessee win we had to play at Georgia and we went from an extreme high to knowing if we didn’t come ready to play we could get kicked in the behind. We just need to get the emotional balance back and get refocused.”