KENTUCKY WILDCATS (12-12, 6-4 SEC)
vs. Alabama (8-17, 1-9 SEC)
Sunday, Feb. 17 • 1:00 p.m.
Lexington, Ky. - Memorial Coliseum
TV: Big Blue Sports Network
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The Kentucky women's basketball program will join the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) and over 1,000 schools nationally in the organization's "Think Pink" initiative when the Wildcats play host to Alabama Sunday, Feb. 17 in Memorial Coliseum at 1 p.m. EST.
The game will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio and TV) and FSN South. All fans attending the game Sunday are asked to wear "pink" to support the cause. Sunday also is Alumni Day as over 20 former Wildcats will be honored at halftime.
Fans wearing Pink can purchase a general admission ticket for just $1 while supplies last. Other single-game general admission tickets are available for $5 adults/$2 senior citizens and children 6-18. Ages five and under are admitted free. UK students, faculty and staff also are admitted free with valid identification based on availability. For ticket information, log on to ukathletics.com or call the UK ticket office at 859-257-1818 or 1-800-928-CATS (2287).
Fans are encouraged to park in Parking Structure 5 located next to Kennedy’s Bookstore on Limestone Avenue. Parking within Parking Structure 5 will be available free of charge. A shuttle bus service also will be provided and begins one hour prior to game time until one hour after the game. Additional game day parking is available in the E lots surrounding Memorial Coliseum including the Martin Luther King Parking Lot and the Student Center Parking Lot.
The “Think Pink” initiative is a global, unified effort for the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association's (WBCA) nation of coaches to assist in raising breast cancer awareness on the court, across campuses, in communities and beyond. All of UK’s coaches, players, and staff will be donning Pink to help raise money for breast cancer research. All single-game ticket sales will be donated to UK’s Markey Cancer Center.
“We are very proud to be part of this event,” UK Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “It has grown from last year’s participation of about 120 schools to this year with over 1,000 schools participating. It is a great event to raise breast cancer awareness and we are happy to be involved with it. We also have a game to play against Alabama. I am disappointed with our outcome last night at Vanderbilt. We have another opportunity Sunday to get on the right side of things against an Alabama team that will come in here very hungry for a victory.”
The Wildcats (12-12, 6-4 Southeastern Conference) are coming off a tough 66-49 road loss at No. 25 Vanderbilt on Thursday. Senior Chelsea Chowning (Berea, Ky.) scored a career-high 14 points after netting a career-best four three-pointers and sophomore Amani Franklin (Decatur, Ga.) recorded her second double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds but the Wildcats couldn’t overcome 22 turnovers and a 36-14 deficit in points in the paint.
Senior Samantha Mahoney (Detroit) is UK’s leading scorer, averaging 13.3 points per game (10th in the SEC), including 11.9 in SEC play. Senior center Sarah Elliott (Berea, Ky.) follows with 10.8 points and is tied for the lead in rebounding with 6.4 rpg. The reigning SEC Freshman of the Week, Victoria Dunlap (Nashville, Tenn.), is close behind in both categories, averaging 7.8 points and with 6.4 rebounds per game.
Alabama (8-17, 1-9) enters Sunday’s game looking to snap a nine-game overall losing streak and a two-game losing skid to Kentucky. The Crimson Tide, who fell to intrastate rival Auburn on Thursday 74-49, defeated South Carolina in their SEC opener on Jan. 10 but have failed to win a game since.
Freshman Tierney Jenkins leads the team in scoring and rebounding with 11.8 points (16th in the SEC) and 7.0 rebounds per game. Along with Jenkins, junior Camilla Blands leads the team in SEC play, averaging 9.9 points a game.
This marks the 33rd meeting in the series between the teams, the only regular season meeting with Alabama this season. UK leads the overall series 17-15 after defeating the Tide last season in a buzzer-beater in Tuscaloosa, 63-62. UK has won eight of the last 10 meetings, including two consecutive and the Wildcats lead the series in Lexington, 9-5.
A UK win would give the Cats a 7-4 mark in conference play, marking the most SEC wins since going 9-5 during the 2005-06 season; guarantee at least a .500 SEC record; give UK its third consecutive win over Alabama. Freshman Victoria Dunlap has been named the SEC Freshman of the Week three times this season, the most for any Wildcat freshman in school history. Dunlap, who averages 7.6 points per game, is nearing the 200-point mark as she has totaled 183 points in 24 games. UK has held 27 of its last 29 opponents to 50 percent shooting or less, dating back to last season. The Cats have held 13 opponents to under 40 percent this season, including nine of the last 13. UK’s defense has held three of its last five opponents to under 30 percent, including a mere 28.3 by Georgia. The Cats have won the rebounding battle in two consecutive games, including its largest margin (+16) over Ole Miss. UK outrebounded Vanderbilt, 38-34. The Cats are 9-5 when tying or outrebounding their opponent. UK has won eight of its last 13 games and in those 13 games, the Wildcats have allowed only three opponents (Tennessee - twice, LSU and Vandy) to shoot over 35.7 percent from the floor. In the last 15 games, UK has seen eight different scoring leaders and eight different leading rebounders. No player has led the Cats in scoring in back-to-back games in the last 15 games. In SEC play, Kentucky is 6-0 when the game is decided by 10 or fewer points; 5-0 when it is decided by five or fewer; 5-0 when scoring more points in the paint than the opponent; 4-1 when leading at halftime; 3-0 when scoring 60 points or more. In 24 games this season, UK has used 10 different starting fives. Senior Samantha Mahoney needs nine points to move up to No. 7 on UK’s all-time scoring list. Mahoney currently ranks seventh in the SEC in scoring (13.3 ppg - all games) and fourth in minutes per game (33.3). She has scored in double-figures in all but eight games this season. Senior Sarah Elliott needs 14 points to move up to No. 10 on UK’s all-time scoring list. Senior Sarah Elliott is sixth in the SEC in blocks (1.65 bpg). She holds the school record for blocks in a career with 178. Senior Chelsea Chowning has been named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District First Team as announced by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). UK blocked a season-best 11 shots vs. Mississippi State. That mark broke the MSU school record for most blocks by an opponent. UK has had two freshmen honored this season four times as the SEC Freshman of the Week in Victoria Dunlap (three times) and Amber Smith. UK currently ranks 16th nationally and second in the SEC in average attendance, bringing in 5,360 fans per game. No. 2 Tennessee leads the nation with 15,172 per game. The Wildcats have ranked in the top 20 in national average attendance three consecutive seasons. Last year UK averaged a school record 5,863 fans per game and ranked 13th nationally. The 2007-08 season marks the 34th season of varsity basketball for Kentucky and the first year for head coach Matthew Mitchell. Four seniors (Chanté Bowman, Chelsea Chowning, Sarah Elliott, and Samantha Mahoney) are in their final season of eligibility.
PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES FEB. 16 Head Coach Matthew Mitchell
Opening Statement …
“For the second year the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association has sponsored a Think Pink initiative that started last Sunday. It has been a week-long event with the goal to try and raise awareness for breast cancer research. We are very proud to be part of this event. It has grown from last year’s participation of about 120 schools to this year where there are over 1,000 schools participating. It has been a great event and we are very happy to cap our week off with our contribution to that. The event is to help us raise breast cancer awareness. There is a one dollar general admission for anyone wearing pink tomorrow and all single-game tickets proceeds will benefit breast cancer research through the Markey Cancer Center here at Kentucky. It is a great event and we are happy to be involved with it. We also have a game to play against Alabama. I am disappointed with our outcome last night at Vanderbilt. We have another opportunity Sunday to get on the right side of things against an Alabama team that will come in here very hungry for a victory.”
On the absence of a point guard …
“It was difficult last night. It was difficult against Ole Miss and it was difficult in the second-half against Tennessee. It has been tough. We handled it better against Ole Miss than we did last night. We probably played one of our better halves in the first half against Vanderbilt. We weren’t extremely productive, but we were able to keep the tempo where we wanted it and score enough points to have the lead at halftime. Then in the second half we just had a bad combination of poor defense and turnovers. When things start going poorly and a player is in an uncomfortable position then sometimes you will see what happens. We hope we can learn from that and each opportunity is a chance to get better. We are going to try today in practice today to take another step forward but it has been difficult.”
On Alabama on the problems they pose …
“Well, they have struggled in the conference. It has been tough for them. They won their first game in the conference and that has been it for them. The crazy thing about our team is that we have had some success, but we have not really blown the doors off of anyone. Alabama is a team that gave Kentucky a very tough game down in Tuscaloosa last year. They have a lot of the same players back and I think with our injuries and the things that we are facing right now then it will make it very difficult game for us. I know that they are trying to build that program and they will come in here very hungry for a win.”
On Alabama’s size …
“They are an athletic Southeastern Conference team that values rebounding. In all of our games we talk about rebounding as being a big key for success. We have done a pretty fair job over the course of the 10 games in the Southeastern Conference of rebounding well so I hope we will be able to continue that on Sunday.”
On Amani Franklin and Chelsea Chowning losing a parent to cancer and what Sunday means to them …
“I think anytime that we lose people close to us and certainly a parent then that has a great impact on your life. We have been really proud of those two for sharing their stories surrounding cancer. One thing that the WBCA is really trying to do is expand to all cancers that affect women. I know that it had a great impact on those two players and it will be special to them to honor the memories of their parents this Sunday and they are looking forward to doing that.
On if Amani Franklin and Chelsea Chowning have created a bond because of their life experiences …
“I am very grateful of the time that Chowning has invested in Amani because she can really benefit from that relationship. Chelsea Chowning is about the kinds of things that we want our players to be about here at Kentucky. She is a tremendous competitor and she played harder than anyone on the floor for Kentucky last night. She has a sense of urgency and she knows her time is coming to a close. She is playing like a player that wants to win. We have had challenges with Amani’s consistency. We think she can become more consistent if she gives a little more effort. Chelsea has taken a lot of time to talk and mentor her. I think it is a very positive relationship for us.”