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UK Hoops Travels to Ole Miss for Final Regular Season Road Game




Feb. 27, 2013

LEXINGTON, Ky. – No. 10 Kentucky women's basketball looks to get back on the winning track when it travels to Oxford, Miss., on Thursday, Feb. 28 to take on Ole Miss in its final regular season road game. The game will tip off at 7 p.m. CST/8 p.m. EST in the Tad Smith Coliseum and be carried live on the UK IMG Sports Radio Network with Neil Price.

Gameday
Kentucky at LSU
Thurs., Feb. 28 - 8:00 p.m. ET
Oxford, Miss.
Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader | OM Get Acrobat Reader
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Radio: UK IMG
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Fans can also follow the UK Hoops team on Twitter at @UKHoopCats. Use the hashtag #UKHoops to comment on the game.

The Wildcats (23-4, 11-3) currently sit in a three-way tie for second place in the Southeastern Conference standings with Georgia and Texas A&M. If Tennessee (13-1), which has already clinched at least a share of the SEC regular-season championship, defeats the Aggies on Thursday in Knoxville, Tenn., the Lady Vols, would win the title outright. If UK and A&M win on Thursday, Sunday's matchups would decide the SEC champion.

"This is an important game for us as this is our last conference game on the road and we need to try to bounce back from our disappointment of Sunday and losing that game," UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. "We reviewed the video of that game and there were some areas where we can improve and do better and Ole Miss I know will be motivated. It's their last home game so that's always a night where people are really motivated to do well, last night in their gym. So we will have a big test ahead of us and play well and I know the team wants to bounce back and get a victory tomorrow night."

This game could also be significant in the UK record books as Mitchell, who has 137 wins in just six seasons as the head coach of the Wildcats, needs just one more to tie Terry Hall's record of 138 wins set from 1980-87. His winning percentage of 69.5 percent (137-60) already ranks first.

Mitchell was just the third coach in UK Hoops history to record 100 wins and he earned that milestone in just 151 games, becoming the second-fastest coach to reach 100 victories.

Senior guard A'dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.) continues to lead UK and she ranks second in the league (conference games only) in scoring, averaging 18.2 points per game. The preseason SEC Player of the Year currently ranks in the top 15 of six SEC statistical categories, including second in scoring (18.2) and third in 3-point field goal percentage (.434). She also ranks in the top 10 of 13 career lists at UK, including No. 2 in scoring and No. 3 in steals. Mathies is the first player in UK history (men or women) to accumulate over 1,800 points, 500 rebounds, 300 assists and 250 steals in her career. She needs just three steals to hit the 300 mark and 12 to tie the school record of 309 set by Stacey Reed from 1991-95.

Following Mathies in the scoring column is junior center DeNesha Stallworth (Richmond, Calif.) and redshirt sophomore point guard Jennifer O'Neill (Bronx, N.Y.) with 12. 6 and 10.3 points per game, respectively. Junior forward Samarie Walker (West Carrollton, Ohio) is UK's leader in rebounding (8.6), steals (54) and blocks (44).

Ole Miss is 9-18 overall and 2-12 in SEC play after falling to two nationally-ranked teams last week. The Rebels fell at No. 10 Texas A&M 82-53 and at home to No. 12 Georgia 73-54. This marks the final week of play for the Rebels as they will not participate in the SEC Tournament due to a one-year self-imposed postseason ban on its women's basketball program in response to recruiting and academic violations which occurred last October.

Overall, Tia Faleru leads the team in scoring, averaging 11.7 points per game followed by Valencia McFarland (11.4 ppg) and Diara Moore (10.6 ppg). Courtney Marbra leads the team in rebounding, averaging 5.4 rebounds per game. Two Ole Miss seniors, Courtney Marbra and Maggie McFerrin, will be honored before the game during its Senior Night ceremony.

Brett Frank was named the acting head coach for Ole Miss for the 2012-13 season. Prior to Ole Miss, Frank spent nine years at Fresno State, serving as the associate head coach during the 2011-12 and 2010-11 seasons.

UK trails 20-13 in the all-time series against Ole Miss, including 11-5 in Tad Smith Coliseum. However, UK has won five of the last six meetings, including three in a row. Last season, the Wildcats took an 82-41 win over the Rebels in Lexington.

Media Opportunity - Feb. 27, 2013

Head coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening statement…
"This is an important game for us as this is our last conference game on the road and we need to try to bounce back from our disappointment of Sunday and losing that game. We reviewed the video of that game and there were some areas where we can improve and do better and Ole Miss I know will be motivated. It's their last home game so that's always a night where people are really motivated to do well, last night in their gym. So we will have a big test ahead of us and play well and I know the team wants to bounce back and get a victory tomorrow night."

On the team focusing on winning games instead of conference scenarios …
"We told them the situation and they knew what the scenario was Sunday, and I think they were really disappointed at the end of the game to lose. We just told them it's really important now to any faint hopes that we have still come back to us winning. It's not anything that we can really obsess over or put a whole lot of energy into. We need to put energy into trying to beat Ole Miss."

On why UK lost to LSU …
"We had a first half that was uncharacteristic for us defensively and I think LSU scored a lot of buckets at the end of the shot clock that sort of deflated us. We just did not play in the first half with a championship-type effort. It was just an OK effort and LSU made us pay for that, made some shots that maybe they don't normally make. But in that game you have to respond. Every game's different. You can't always just play percentages. You can do that with a game plan, but once the game gets going you have to respond and make some adjustments. We just didn't play a good half of basketball and it cost us."

On whether the loss is a good teaching tool …
"I think it's really important when you have a disappointment in your life or you have a challenge or failure to try to do everything you can to learn from it. I think you're exactly right. We definitely were able to go back and review the film and you can see that we just didn't respond the way that we wanted to, and a lot of times the players are out there in the game and maybe they don't feel it or they don't understand it and then you go back and show the film and they're just like, 'Gosh, I can't believe that's what happened.' But all of us make mistakes and have struggles. The real key is can we see that – which it was a very disappointing loss – but the fortunate thing is there's time to learn from it. It's not the last game of the season. It's not the final game we're going to play. So I think it's a great opportunity to learn. Good wake-up call for us."

On A'dia Mathies' importance to the program …
"You just went from – pretty simply put – you went from a situation that year-in and year-out you didn't have a lot of hope of being very good. And now there's hope here that you can be really good. And that would be how I would sum it up. It's a very, very different deal she's walking out of than she walked into. She's a big part of that."

On Mathies' arrival being the turning point for the program …
"Yes, that and at the same time Victoria (Dunlap) really emerged as the player in the year in the league. And so the flag is placed in the ground at the moment that A'dia stepped on campus. She's not the sole reason, but that's the moment. That is absolutely the moment that it changed into something very, very different than what it was. So she has proven it in the record books, she has proven it in the win column, she's proven it with championship performance. She is the best player that's played here in a generation or two. You can go back to Valerie Still, to a player that had that kind of impact. So she is remarkable."

On whether Mathies fulfilled her goal of helping build the UK program as Angel McCoughtry did at Louisville …
"I would say so. I would say that it's very similar results. I think Angel really elevated that program and A'dia's definitely helped elevate this program. So I would think she would have to feel great about that comparison. And if that's what she wanted to do, she clearly changed the program and certainly became what the program was identified with as a singular player. So I think she probably did what she wanted to do."

On the difference in recruiting since the arrival of Mathies and Brittany Henderson
"It's changed a lot. The biggest thing that changes recruiting in my mind is winning. And so that's why you're so grateful for a couple kids like Brittany and A'dia who have the desire to come to a place based on substance and not on the surface. It's just real easy to look at records and say 'I'm going to go here' and automatically win and it just doesn't happen that way. And it's easy to go somewhere that hasn't and say, 'Hey it's not possible.' So for two kids to listen to what we had to say and believe in something that was a dream at the time is really something I'm grateful for. And now we still try to be about substance, but it's a little bit easier to catch people's eye because the surface is a little bit better. No matter what it ends up being that attracts a player here, there's no denying the fact that when you're having success it's easier to get in someone's head that this is a place where we can be successful. That's the biggest difference now. It looks a lot better for a player coming in than it did when those two kids came in to be successful. That's the biggest difference now it looks a lot better for a player coming in than it did when those two kids came in."

On what Brittany Henderson does off the floor that has impacted this program…
"The thing that probably stands out to me more than anything with Brittany, is Brittany came here as a very low ranked player in recruiting rankings. I think she was inside the top 200 like 167 or something and a lot of kids above her had better stats and things coming out of high school, but she came here unheralded and early on started developing and started working and started showing that if you came to Kentucky the coaches were going to work with you and help you develop in all areas of your life. That was real powerful for a lot of coaches around the country, high school and club coaches. I think Brittany was a very powerful force in us turning things around. Not only what she did but what she was able to become and that helped us build some confidence and some credibility with different people around as far as the recruiting goes. On the inside, she has just always been someone that was willing to work really hard, to do what was necessary to help us win and she's had some huge moments in her career. This year where her minutes have gone down, it's been incredible to see her attitude the way she's approached practice and the way she's approached her standing in the program and how it's impacted her life and how she's trying to pass that on to the younger players. It's really a beautiful thing to see because Brittany Henderson and I really had some tough times here and butted heads a lot of times and it was not a smooth four years just between the two of us and now to see her as a player who is saying the things that I think the program should stand for and she believes in those things is really gratifying to see her development as a person as well. Really proud to have coached Brittany Henderson and she's got a lot left to give here down the stretch and I know she wants to finish it out real special."

On Brittany being dubbed a "mother hen" of the team…
"She has a real special connection with her teammates. I think they respect her and she's been a very giving person and very thoughtful of people and she has been terrific and really proud of her career and what she's accomplished."

On why the team refers to Brittany as "Grandma Betty"…
"Well, she's just older than everybody and she moves a little slower in stretching so that may have something to do with it."

On A'dia Mathies joking around saying he would cry on senior night with tears of joy knowing he wouldn't have to watch them practice anymore…
"Yeah, A'dia is real funny. She has a great career as a comedian ahead of her. Listen, I will I'm sure be emotional and senior day is always tough because you have it before the game and then you are trying to make sure you honor them properly and then get ready to play the game. It will be a very bittersweet moment because you recognize what they have done for us and it will be tough but you are happy for them and hopeful as a coach that they got everything out of the experience that we told them they would have available to them. I think those two have definitely benefited from being at Kentucky and we have certainly benefited from those two being here. You are glad when it's that kind of situation but I'm not looking forward to those two leaving."

On if the players pranking him by setting off fireworks in his yard on his birthday is the craziest thing they have done to him…
"No, they have done far crazier things in practice to me. I've literally almost expired 10-12 times in their career and both of them were directly involved in the incident. I've accused Brittany Henderson of trying to kill me before, she's literally tried to make me have a heart attack and kill me before (laughing). She denies that but I'm telling you it's true. This is a good one on Brittany, when I would be addressing her it looks like she's rolling her eyes at me. She just swears that it was not rolling her eyes and it was just an inadvertent rolling of the eyes and that went on for about three years and that caused a lot of pain in our relationship. Now we laugh about it now and she still says she doesn't think she was doing that but it's funny that it doesn't happen anymore so I guess maybe she got it corrected. We spent about three years at each other's throat because I would think that she was rolling her eyes at everything I said and she said she wasn't. It's been fun."

On if he could see A'dia being the impact player she is now when he was recruiting her…
"I just can't ever take credit for seeing that clearly in the future. I mean the thing you have to realize, you have to go back and really put this is proper perspective. We were just trying to get competitive at the time and I can remember watching A'dia play an AAU game one night in Atlanta and it was just kind of showcase deal and they got all these kids together and nobody ever played together so it was really you get the ball and you had to make some things happen because they had been together for five minutes and they kind of just put five players out on the court. I watched her play one night and it was just one of the most spectacular performances I have ever seen in a summer league game. I mean she was just unbelievable. That night you are looking at her, and I watched her a bunch in high school, but that night was a little bit different. You were like, 'Whoa, I knew the kid was good, but this kid is incredible.' You didn't see that a whole lot in high school where she would be the way she was that night. At the time when we had a chance to get her, I was just saying that we didn't have access to this kind of talent right now where we are. That is what made it so important for us to get her here. Then I hoped we could develop her a little bit. You would go watch her in high school and there would be games where she would just stand in the corner and score nine points. And you wouldn't know what was going to happen when she got to college. So I knew she was talented, I didn't know she was going to leave her leading us to the tournament all four years, win an SEC Championship, second-leading scorer, on and on and on. I didn't know that. But I did know the first day she ever practiced that she was better than I thought she was. She had made an immediate impact on us. When she was coming in I was just thrilled we had gotten that talented of a player and was just hopeful she would speak to me in the four years she was here because we didn't speak too much during the recruiting process."

On A'dia being a once in a program type player …
"She is the best we have had here so far. We are hopeful to have someone similar to her in the next generation or someone will be talking about the next player that comes through. I think she has made it possible now for kids to dream here and come here and be an All-American and SEC Player of the Year and all that kind of stuff. There weren't a lot of thoughts of that before she got here."

On if he has figured her out …
"No. Are you kidding me? I have tried really hard, Jen (Smith), but I haven't. I have figured this out about her. She is the most intelligent basketball player I have ever been around. She is tremendously gifted. Her quiet exterior prevents people from knowing how much she cares about people and what a great person she is. She has done more for me and my family than just about anybody in my professional life. I am just really, really grateful to her for what she has done. I would not tell you I have figured her out yet. I will keep trying (smiling)."

On if the rumors are true he will name his next child after A'dia…
"That is true. That is true. That is something that I think Jenna is all for and I am all for it so it will be in there somewhere. Unless she starts playing really bad or we get beat the next few games and it upsets me and I will move on to someone else. That was a joke. Make sure that is in the notes there."

On what makes A'dia so special that he would want to name his next child after her …
"Well, I don't know what people will think of this, but I am really grateful to have this job. I don't take this job for granted. It is a great job and it's the place that I want to be coaching. I don't want to coach anywhere else. The reason you get to stay is because you win, plain and simple. Victoria (Dunlap), who we named Saylor after, made a huge impact on my life and Jenna's life to have a job here at Kentucky and I just want to honor that. A'dia has made some huge plays that have just directly resulted in us winning games and I want to honor that. We are here and are able to stay here because of the players. Those aren't the only two players but that is our way to make sure that connection exists and that it is the players that make it able for us to stay here and coach. That is why we choose to do things like that, and I think Mathies has a good ring to it."

On A'dia knowing exactly how many wins the team needs to win the NCAA championship and how that makes him feel …
"Yeah, it is 11 games. We want to play in all 11 of them. I want to coach A'dia and Brittany as long as I possibly can and 11 games is what we could play. If it is not 11, I hope it is 10 and on and on. I hope we can play as many as we can play. I want them to recognize what a talented group we have and what we can do if we can just bring it together here at the end."

#1, A'dia Mathies, G, Sr.

Opening statement…
"It 's been a great four years to change around the program and leave here with this program on top. There are too many people here to thank that supported us along the way, but I would like to thank Coach Mitchell and (Mitch) Barnhart for giving us the opportunity. I want to thank my dad for teaching me the game or else I wouldn't be here, so shout out to pops, and also to everyone in the support staff and everyone that believed in us."

On if the program is similar to the vision Coach Mitchell had when they were being recruited…
"Yes, definitely. You can tell from being recruited that he wanted this program ran the way it is being ran right now with people who have character on and off the court and who try to give their best and believe in honesty, hard work and discipline. I think he's done a good job of that."

On if she came to UK trying to make an impact or just play her game and see what happens…
"It was definitely to do the best I can and see what happens. I had no clue how it was going to turn out. When we were being recruited, UK was a .500 level team. To come in here and automatically change around the first year, we had no expectations. It just changed the whole culture and nature for UK basketball. I just went out there head first and it came out good and I'm glad it did."

On how her mindset changed in terms of expectations…
"Coming in, there were no expectations. It was just do the best I can. As you could see, we had the potential to be good, to be great. You start changing your mindset and your standards. Like Brittany (Henderson) said, we started developing high standards. I think this will help keep the program the way it is and have the ability to go to four straight NCAA tournaments and things like that."

On how different it is for current recruits to come into a winning program compared to four years ago…
"It is very good to see the changes that have been made. I feel like being at the beginning was a big part of that. Just being a part of a team that changed the whole culture around. Now you get McDonald's All-Americans left and right. You need talent as much as leadership to win games. He's just getting the talent part out of the way with all of these great players coming to our program. I think it is a result of how hard we worked in the past and that it will continue into the future."

On being an all-time great for the program…
"It feels good. I was telling Jen Smith in an interview that I didn't know about any records or anything. I wasn't shooting for anything when I came here. I just wanted to go out there and play. The more I played, the more accolades came to me. I really didn't care about that. I just wanted to win and to change this program around and we did that. If I can leave here on top of any statistical categories that would be great, but ultimately I want to go to the Final Four and win a national championship. I think that would be the biggest thing. "

On the team's goals for the rest of the season…
"It's definitely our goal to get to the Final Four. I think that is the next step. We have been to two Elite Eight's since we have been here. We want to take the next step and make it to the Final Four and actually become the elite team that we know we can be is the ultimate goal. We want to win an SEC championship, but even further than that is the goal to win a national championship and go out on top."

On if her college career has flown by or been a slow process…
"Once you reflect on it you can say 'It was just four years ago that we stepped on campus', but when you are in the process of going through it everyday, it wasn't flying by to me. It was very slow, but I wouldn't trade it for anything."

On her favorite memory so far…
"I think it was the pranks we pulled on Coach Mitchell for his birthday. We were shooting fireworks off outside of his house. He didn't know what was going on."

On if the team has been able to prank Coach Mitchell this year…
"I don't think we have gotten him this year. He is probably used to it now. He embraces himself for it, but we will get him though."

On if she thinks Coach Mitchell will cry when she leaves…
"I don't think so. Well, he is emotional so he might. He's done a good job of recruiting and bringing in other talented people. If he cries it will be tears of joy because of the changes that have been made, but as far as the future of the program, I don't think he's really worried about that."

On having her college experience in her home state…
"I'm glad I was able to come here and change it around to be close enough to my parents and family so everyone can support me. I know that they have been there throughout my whole career and for me to just still be around, and for them to come to games, support me, see how great I am doing and just cheer me on. It's great to be playing in my home state and kind of become a hometown hero."

On if there was ever thought of what might have been had she chosen someplace else…
"No. Definitely. I really had my mind made up. I tell the story all of the time to people that ask me. They'll ask, 'Why didn't you go to Louisville?' They always talk about Angel McCoughtry. Angel McCoughtry would not have been there if I went to Louisville, so I never understood that. I kind of wanted to be that person for this side, that person to change the program and make it an elite program. Even though I had no expectations, we ended up doing it and I am just glad I made that decision."

On the game on Sunday being so significant…
"Our freshmen year it would have just been like any other game. With the program being the way it has been the last few years and us being a team that's on top, like being in the top 10 in the nation and stuff like that, it means a lot. It shows a transfer between Tennessee being dominant and now you see Kentucky up there. I'm glad that we can be a part of it and I am looking forward to the game on Sunday."

On closing out playing in Memorial Coliseum with a win…
"It would mean everything. We have put a lot of work into what we do. We've run plenty of suicides and around the stadium, so I think to go out with a win against an elite team like Tennessee on our last game, it would mean everything. I think that's what we are going to be playing for."

On being the winningest class in UK history…
"I think it is very humbling to be a part of something like that. Just to come back and realize that it was us, we were a part of that, I think it's going to mean a lot. Probably more so when we are weak, old, and run down and thinking about what we used to do. It makes me happy to say that we were a part of something special."

On looking over the scenarios on what could happen the rest of the season…
"We've thought about that and it's really up to the mercy of other people. We are not really focused on that. We are just going to go out there and try and get a win on Thursday and Sunday and try to head into the SEC tournament and the NCAA tournament. I think we are just taking steps on moving forward and trying to win every game from here on out. If we do that then we will be national champions and SEC tourney champions. I think that is where our focus is right now."

On getting back into the win column after this last loss…
"It's very important. This is the end of the year so every game is special. We have the possibility of playing four more games and we have the possibility of playing 11 more games and being in the national championship game. We take every game special and getting a win tomorrow would be what we need."

#40, Brittany Henderson, F, Sr.

Opening Statement…
"I just want to say that I can't believe I've played here for four years. It's already about to be senior night on Sunday and I am so excited for the game. I want to thank Coach Mitchell and (Mitch) Barnhart for giving me the opportunity to play here along with the support staff, my teammates and my parents."

On what coach said about his vision for the team during her recruitment….
"Coach talked about improving every year. This year he's talked a lot about having high standards. This team is great and we want to continue to be looked at as great in the future. We want to be seen as the UConn of the SEC and I feel like in the future we will be viewed as one of those programs." 

On changes in Coach Mitchell over these past four years…
"My freshman year he yelled a lot, but off the court he definitely has a personality. He's fun to be around but he's very demanding and I love that about him. He tells the truth, he's honest and he's going to tell you if you're doing anything wrong and I feel like that has helped all of us as a team."

On her expectations for the rest of the season…
"We definitely want to get this win Thursday at Ole Miss and then focus on senior night. We just take it one game at a time. Post season wise, our whole goal of this season was to win a SEC Championship, get to the Final Four and win a national championship, and I believe we'll get some of that this year."

On whether or not these four year years have flown by…
"It's gone by fast to me. I just think back to being a freshman, stepping foot on this campus, doing summer workouts and I feel like it has gone by quick."

On her favorite memory…
"My favorite moment was probably our freshman year beating the No. 1 seed in Nebraska. We weren't a favorite in that region to beat the No. 1 seed, so stepping off that court beating Nebraska was probably one of the best feelings I've had."

On how the support has changed for the program since she got here…
"When I first got recruited I knew that they had made it to the WNIT previous years. We did fundraisers throughout my freshman year trying to get 5,000 season ticket holders to fill up Memorial. And now to see that we have 5,000 fans on a nightly basis is just amazing. Also my freshman year when we were picked 11th to win the SEC we came out and played with a chip on our shoulder and that changed the whole mindset of this program and now we look forward to winning every game."

On if there was ever thought of what might have been had she chosen someplace else…
"I'm just glad I chose Kentucky and I wouldn't change it for anything in the world."

On how it feels to be the team with the most wins in Kentucky history…
"We didn't expect it, I didn't know until (Susan Lax) told me that and I didn't even think about it. It feels great to have come in and change the program. We'll be able to look back and say, 'I made history.'"


 

 

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