Feb. 13, 2013
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 9/7 Kentucky women's basketball team returns to Memorial Coliseum for the second-to-last time this season when it plays host to No. 16/14 South Carolina on Thursday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. EST in its annual Play4Kay game. The game will broadcast live on the UK IMG Sports Radio Network with Neil Price. A live streaming video is available to members of All Access (the subscription video portion of www.UKathletics.com).
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 Wildcats will don pink NIKE uniforms, socks and shoes in an effort to increase awareness for the Play4Kay initiative and the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.
"We're excited for our Play for Kay game," UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. "Kay Yow's had a huge, huge impact on breast cancer awareness. The money that goes to the Kay Yow fund goes directly to breast cancer research, so it is very important for us to bring awareness to that. It is very important for us to raise money for that. We appreciate anybody who wants to come out to the game tomorrow night and help us with that effort."
The Wildcats also look to avenge a 55-50 loss to the Gamecocks earlier this season in Columbia, S.C. Kentucky went almost nine minutes without a point in the first half, and scored just one bucket in six minutes as South Carolina built its biggest lead of the game at eight points late in the second half. The Wildcats shot 32.8 percent (19 of 58) from the field and turned the ball over 18 times - two more than South Carolina. The loss snapped UK's school-record 17-game winning streak.
"South Carolina is one of the great teams in our league and is very, very tough, very, very tenacious on defense," Mitchell said. "They really hustle a lot and are a great offensive rebounding team. We will have to play much harder than we did in Columbia (S.C.) to have any success in the game tomorrow night. It's an important game and we're looking forward to getting on the court and seeing if we can earn a victory."
The Cats (21-3, 9-2), who currently sit in third place in the Southeastern Conference standings, are coming off an impressive 22-point win over Vanderbilt on Sunday. Senior guard and preseason SEC Player of the Year favorite A'dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.) put on quite the show by charting a season-high 28 points on 10-of-17 shooting, including 5-of-9 from beyond the arc. She also dished out a game-high five assists and three steals. The 28 points moved her up to No. 3 on UK's all-time scoring list with 1,815. Sophomore Bria Goss (Indianapolis) once again shined off the bench as she notched 15 points. Redshirt sophomore point guard Jennifer O'Neill (Bronx, N.Y.) added 10 points and junior forward Samarie Walker (West Carrollton, Ohio) recorded her 11th career and eighth double-double of the season with 10 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
Overall this season, Mathies leads UK and ranks second in the league (conference games only) in scoring, averaging 18.8 points per game. The preseason SEC Player of the Year currently ranks in the top 10 of 13 career lists at UK, including third in scoring (1,810) and steals (289). In the front court, junior center DeNesha Stallworth (Richmond, Calif.) and Walker are giving Kentucky a dynamic inside presence this season. The duo combine to average 22.5 points and 14.7 rebounds per game and both are shooting over 50 percent from the floor.
No. 16/12 South Carolina enters Thursday's game at 20-4 overall, 8-3 in the SEC. The Gamecocks are tied for fourth in the league standing with Georgia after falling in a hard-fought, two-point game to Texas A&M on Sunday.
Like UK, USC is a balanced scoring team. Seven players average between 11.9 and 4.0 points per game. Sophomore forward Aleighsa Welch leads the team in scoring and rebounding with 11.9 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.
South Carolina has one of the top defenses in the conference again this season as it allows just 47.8 points per game to go with a field goal percentage defense of 34.5 percent. The Gamecocks also lead the league in rebounding margin at +9.4.
USC is coached by three-time Olympic gold medalist Dawn Staley, who is in the midst of her fifth season at the helm of the Gamecocks program. Staley has a career record at South Carolina of 82-61.
Thursday will mark the 50th meeting in the all-time series vs. South Carolina. UK leads the all-time series 30-19, including an 18-5 mark in Lexington. UK has won the last eight meetings against the Gamecocks in Memorial Coliseum. The Cats' last loss at home was a 65-57 setback on March 2, 2008 in Rupp Arena.
Five of the last seven matchups with South Carolina have been decided by eight points or less, including four in a row. The Wildcats went 2-3 in those games.
Spectator parking is located in the following areas:
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 6 p.m. EST.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Fans arriving less than 1 hour before tip-off should proceed directly to Parking Structure #5 (accessible from Limestone or Upper Street) or utilize the Lexington Parking Authority Transit Center Garage (entrance near corner of High Street & Lexington Avenue) adjacent to the Post Office.
For more information on parking around Memorial Coliseum and other game-day questions visit www.ukathletics.com/wbbgameday
Media Opportunity - Feb. 13, 2013
"We're excited for our Play for Kay game. Kay Yow's had a huge, huge impact on breast cancer awareness. The money that goes to the Kay Yow fund goes directly to breast cancer research, so it is very important for us to bring awareness to that. It is very important for us to raise money for that. We appreciate anybody who wants to come out to the game tomorrow night and help us with that effort.
"South Carolina is one of the great teams in our league and is very, very tough, very, very tenacious on defense. They really hustle a lot and are a great offensive rebounding team. We will have to play much harder than we did in Columbia (S.C.) to have any success in the game tomorrow night. It's an important game and we're looking forward to getting on the court and seeing if we can earn a victory."
On how his team is different since the first matchup with South Carolina…
"I just think that we're maybe more aware of what we have to do to win. When we went into Columbia we won 17 in a row and they came out extremely aggressive, very, very physical, and we just never responded. It was a disappointing game for us, but now we have the benefit of that experience and we've had much tougher practices and we should be at least aware of what is coming tomorrow night."
On if he shows the game tape from South Carolina to his team…
"The thing for us is we've tried to highlight the hustle plays that South Carolina defeated us on. That was really all it was. We got a ton of stops in the game. We disrupted them a bunch of times. It was not a masterpiece from South Carolina from an offensive execution standpoint. They just flat out wanted the game more. They were much more aggressive on the boards and much more aggressive after loose basketballs, 50-50 plays we call them. That's what you try to say is that this is a mindset. It's not a talent issue. We have plenty of talent. It is a mindset; are you going to get pushed around or are you going to get knocked down? Are you going to try to really, really be strong; stay on your feet, stay on balance? You have to be real tough in this game because they are extremely physical. They will hit you with contact in all different sorts of ways and they're just really physical, tough team, so you have to be ready for that."
On using the zone again this time against USC…
"We have in a lot of games mixed up the defense. That's generally more dictated by the flow of the game and what we feel like will be important. I think we can be very disruptive to them and our man-to-man defense, if we work hard at it and hustle, I think we can do some things there. We'll use whatever we can to try to get the victory tomorrow night. It's a very important game."
On whether he can recall a time where Coach Calipari's "everybody's Super Bowl" reference felt true…
"Yes, after several games and watching, as you prepare for opponents, you kind of get to see everybody play and so then you start comparing how teams play against you and then you're watching them play against other teams and it just started jumping out to me. You were seeing some things in our games that you weren't seeing in other games. Maybe it's a coincidence, I'm just not sure that it is. I think, probably, teams have been maybe a little more amped up because we were picked to win the league. We're the highest-ranked team in the league. We have a reputation for being pretty tough on defense. Those kinds of things, I think maybe all mix in together to raise a team's level. That's just from watching and comparing games."
On whether being "everybody's Super Bowl" requires more preparation for UK…
"I think if you embrace it and you understand it, you don't shy away from it and back down from it, I think it's tremendous. It's really what I try to tell our team, 'If we will play with maximum effort and maximum intensity and we'll play together, we're hard to beat. I don't care who it is in this league or in the country. We'll be a real tough team to beat.' But, if you have three or four of your players that aren't playing at maximum level and maximum effort and the other team is then, we're not so good that we can just show up and roll out there and kind of go out there and go through the motions. It's just really, I think I've said this all along, an exercise in mental toughness and emotional strength. How bad do you want to win? How bad do you want to win this game? This will take a real, real strong effort but we're more than capable of giving it and do you want to give it and win the game? Because, it's worth a lot to win tomorrow night."
On what he believes is causing O'Neill's poor assist-to-turnover ratio…
"It's practice oriented. She was playing so well and with such freedom and she'd have four turnovers in a game but she'd have eight assists. It just started slipping away in practice a little bit and we're trying to get her back to practicing really hard on defense. That seems to kind of help everything else flow from there. When she's hustled on defense and been really aware of what she needs to do on defense and really gotten after it, then we've had good games. She was better on Sunday. She turned a bunch over at the end, sort of, I thought, when basically we had had to game put away. We had only turned the ball over 15 times. Then, there in the last few minutes we just started throwing it everywhere. I thought we did better on Sunday when the game was really on the line so, hopefully, that's a good sign."
On Samarie Walker's chances for consideration as SEC Defensive Player of the Year…
"I think she's done a really good job. She's a really dynamic defender because of her athleticism and her strength. She can finish possessions with the rebounds, she can block shots and she can make steals. She is very valuable to us because she can guard a variety of players. So I think that she could be in the running, she just needs to finish strong."
On whether they discuss the conference standings as a team and if they focus on that at all…
"This will seem boring to you, but Monday has no bearing on tomorrow night. Trust me, I want to win it. I want to win the league. We've made no bones about that so you all know that, everyone knows that, the players know that. It's just going to be a grind and that starts with a 40-minute grind tomorrow night. It's going to be tough. You just have to put everything into the game and just see where you are at the end. But there's so much that can happen. I will drive myself crazy sometimes trying to predict those things but I try and catch myself and realize that that's a waste of energy, but we're only human. We're just competitive and we want to win."
On Maegan Conwright's knee injury and how she is recovering…
"The doctors and Courtney (Jones) are really pleased with her progress. She is ahead of schedule and that's accredited to how hard she's working and her attitude. These first few weeks out of surgery are so difficult, painful physically, taxing mentally and emotionally, and she has just done a fantastic job."
On if teams are playing with added intensity against them…
"Definitely because of our ranking and high intensity that we bring. It's like, "oh we are playing Kentucky today, we need to bring our A game." You can never really pay attention to the scores (of other teams' games) because the scores are not going to determine how you play out here. It's not how it's going to go."
On what changes she has made by coming off the bench…
"Just to see how the game is being called and analyzing and just getting my mental focus together and being able to cheer on my teammates from the start."
On difference in the team since playing South Carolina in January…
"We got our hunger back. I feel like at South Carolina we were not as hungry for whatever reason. I feel as if Coach Mitchell is doing a great job getting us back to that level. We've had a lot of 6 a.m. practices and very intense practices. We are definitely getting our hunger back."
On how the practices are going…
"They are intense. They are early, rolling out of bed and putting on your ankle braces and just getting back to fundamentals. It's what we needed though."
On reasons for losing hunger…
"The season is just so long, you get up and you're on a set routine schedule especially in the SEC. I think you just go through that, but we snapped right back out of that and we are on top of our game."
On bouncing back from her previous performance against South Carolina…
"I feel a lot better. Kobe (Bryant) had four points last night and he is one of the best scorers. You just kind of have those games and it's how you take it after. I have taken it as we have the opportunity to play them again and on our home court."
On some advice she can give to Nerlens Noel and what he is facing with his torn ACL…
"For me it was a devastating injury to have but you can come back from it. You have to have that mindset. In rehab you have to work just like you do every day in practice. You will get out of it what you put in. So if you work hard in rehab, you can come back strong, and maybe even stronger than before. Since I am not playing, I sit on the bench and watch more and learn more by watching. I am learning more because the coaches can talk to me more outside of the lines. So I have learned that way."
On getting advice from other athletes that have experienced similar injuries…
"It's crazy how many people you see that have had this devastating injury. Janee (Thompson) has had it, Amber (Smith) has had it, and a lot of people had it. Jelleah (Sidney) had it. You take their information and take what they have and know what you are up against. It is better that way when you have people that can tell you what is going to happen. Amber texted me when it happened and told me what to expect and that made me feel better and it's easier that way."
On the toughest part of the injury…
"Probably when I found out. It is something that you take in and realize that it is something you can't take back and you just have to move on from there."
On if she can offer support to Nerlens Noel…
"I think we are going to be best friends in the training room. I think I am going to see him a lot now."
On what kind of things she is doing in rehab now…
"Before I had surgery, because you have to regain strength, I had to rehab before. Now I am well ahead so I am doing bending, learning to straighten, and working my quad again. Just trying to relearn everything. I am biking now as of yesterday."
On getting excited about baby steps in the recovery process…
"You have to get excited because it is that type of injury where the little things matter. So when something little happens, then you should be really excited about it because it is a big step."
On if she saw Nerlens Noel go down last night…
"I did. I hate seeing stuff like that when people grab their knee. Stuff like that is nothing anybody wants to see ever. You don't want to see anybody go down that way."
On the hardest part of rehab…
"I think it is just doing it every day. You do the same thing every day and it matters. Every day it matters that you do the same simple things and that is probably the hard part. Coming every day mentally prepared. It's going to hurt, but you just have to do it every day."
On if it is harder to complete a summer workout or a rehab session…
"Well, in rehab I don't really sweat and I am not huffing and puffing, but it is more painful."
On staying connected with the team despite the injury…
"It hasn't been difficult for me because we are such a close team and we hang out every day. It is not just basketball. We hang out outside of basketball and in practice we are not really conversing socially. I hang out with them before and after practice, so it doesn't affect me."
On dealing with the timing of an injury like an ACL…
"You have to have a positive outlook. If you drag on this situation, it's not going to help you at all. I know it's hard to say that when it's such a devastating injury. I know his team is going to help him and his coach is going to help him. We have the best trainers, the best medical service. He is going to be good and (Noel) has to know that and I'm sure everyone is going to tell him that. That is what helped me. My teammates helped me, my coaches helped me, they all helped me. You just have to think positive. Think of all of the good things that will come out of this. You will come back stronger and smarter on the basketball court."