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UK Hoops Makes Third Straight Appearance in NCAA Tournament

Head coach Matthew Mitchell talks to the media following the team's selection as a No. 2 seed.

Head coach Matthew Mitchell talks to the media following the team's selection as a No. 2 seed.

March 12, 2012

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 12/11 University of Kentucky women’s basketball team earned its third straight bid to the NCAA Tournament, and ninth overall, with a No. 2 seed in the Kingston Regional. It is the first time in UK Hoops history that the Wildcats have advanced to three straight NCAA tournaments, and the Wildcats’ No. 2 seed ties its highest ever in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats (25-6) will face 15-seeded McNeese State in the first round Saturday at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. The game will air live on ESPN2 at 4:20 p.m. ET.

The No. 2 seed is the second in school history for the Wildcats, and ties their highest seed ever in the tournament. Kentucky was also a two seed in 1982. The other first-round matchup in Ames, Iowa, features No. 7 seed Green Bay (30-1) and No. 10 seed Iowa State (18-12).

“It’s a really historic night for us, and we’re so excited,” UK Hoops head coach Matthew Mitchell said. “It’s the first time in our school’s history that the women’s program has been to three straight tournaments. It’s the first time we’ve ever gotten a seed this high (since 1982). It’s a great night for us and we couldn’t be more excited about advancing to the tournament and getting a two seed and having a chance to compete for a national championship. It’s a real, real exciting night for our program.”

UK is 8-8 all-time in the Big Dance, including a 4-2 mark under Mitchell. The best finishes for UK came in 2010 and 1982 when the Wildcats fell one win shy of the Final Four. UK, playing as a No. 4 seed last season, defeated Hampton in the first round before falling to No. 5-seeded North Carolina in the second round.

McNeese State (26-7), located in Lake Charles, La., claimed the 2012 Southland Conference Tournament Championship with a 60-56 win over Stephen F. Austin. The Cowgirls have won nine consecutive games leading into the NCAA Tournament. It will be the Cowgirls’ second straight trip to the NCAA Tournament and their second trip in school history.

UK is 1-0 all-time against McNeese State, and is 4-0 against teams from the Southland Conference. Kentucky topped the Cowgirls 85-50 at Memorial Coliseum on Nov. 28, 2009. Kentucky defeated Southland Conference member Sam Houston State 73-52 on Nov. 25, 2011.

Kentucky was one of eight Southeastern Conference teams to be awarded a bid to the NCAA Tournament on Monday evening. Tennessee earned an automatic bid to the tournament after winning the conference tournament, and is a No. 2 seed in the Des Moines Regional. Georgia (four seed), LSU (five seed), South Carolina (five seed), Arkansas (six seed), Vanderbilt (seven seed) and Florida (nine seed) also made the field.

Top-ranked Baylor earned the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed and will play in the Des Moines Regional. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Raleigh Regional), UConn Huskies (Kingston Regional) and Stanford Cardinal (Fresno Regional) joined Baylor as No. 1 seeds. The Final Four will be played April 1 and 3 at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

The Ames, Iowa pod is hosted by Iowa State and will be played at Hilton Coliseum. Session booklets, which include all three games, are $30 for adults and $25 for students (12th grade and younger). Single session tickets are $18 for adults and $13 for students. Tickets are available through Iowa State’s ticket office at 888-478-2925 or online at cyclones.com. Everyone regardless of age requires a ticket for admission. Tickets may also be purchased online from Ticketmaster.

Team Reacts to NCAA Selection

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NCAA Tournament Bracket Announcement Media Opportunity – 3.12.2012

UK Hoops Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening statement…
“It’s a really historic night for us, and we’re so excited. It’s the first time in our school’s history that the women’s program has been to three straight tournaments. It’s the first time we’ve ever gotten a seed this high (since 1982). It’s a great night for us and we couldn’t be more excited about advancing to the tournament and getting a two seed and having a chance to compete for a national championship. It’s a real, real exciting night for our program.”

On if he’s ever been to Ames, Iowa…
“I have. I’ve been to Ames as an assistant at Florida, we played out there. Ames is a beautiful town and Bill Fennelly, the coach at Iowa State, is a good friend of mine and a good guy. I tell you what’s great about Ames, they really support women’s basketball. It should be an outstanding atmosphere. It should be one of the better first and second round places to play as far as the fans being interested. It’s real exciting.”

On the possibility of playing Iowa State in its home arena should they both advance to the second round…
“That’s just the rub here in the tournament. It’s one of the difficult parts but I think it makes it exciting and makes it challenging. Listen, our team has worked hard to earn this seed, we’ve had some great success this year and we’ve been able to beat a lot of good teams. This time of year you better play well and you better be ready to beat anybody. That is one of the difficult parts about the tournament though.”

#1 – Junior guard A’dia Mathies

On receiving a two seed in the NCAA Tournament…
“Just very excited, another year to be able to play in the NCAA Tournament is very exciting. We’re going to have a tough challenge in every game we play so I’m just looking forward to it.”

On if she expected to get a two seed…
“Yeah, we were expecting the two. I think the lowest we would have been was a three. Just to get a two seed was the highest that we’ve gotten. We’re ready to play and we’re ready to go out there and show everybody what we’re about.”

On head coach Matthew Mitchell talking highly of their practice Monday…
“Yeah, we’re doing a lot more things that we haven’t been doing in the past. We’re getting better every day, whether it be shooting or being strong on layups, crashing the (offensive) boards, just a lot of stuff we’ve been improving on. I’m glad we’re taking the steps in the right direction.”

On Kentucky’s road in the tournament…
“I think it’s going to be tough. I don’t think anybody (has it easy). Whether it be Baylor or McNeese State, whoever we’re playing, it’s going to be tough every game.”

#4 – Senior guard Keyla Snowden

On her reaction to Kentucky’s No. 2 seed…
“We’re excited. A two seed, can’t really get much better than that. We’re excited, no matter where we go. Since it’s Iowa, we’re really excited to play and show everybody what our season has come to and what we’ve worked for.”

On how long it took her to get over the loss to LSU in the SEC Tournament semifinals…
“I think just having that loss kind of hit us pretty hard. We were always thinking about it but now we’re just trying to move forward.”

On UK Hoops’ body of work this season…
“We’re really excited. I think we got a good draw. Just being in the tournament shows a lot with where we’ve come in the past few years. We’re just really excited.”

On what they’ve gotten out of the time off between the SEC and NCAA tournaments…
“We’ve done a lot of good stuff in practice. I think everybody’s confidence is right. Our team is really looking good. I think that gives us a lot of confidence heading into the tournament.”

On the excitement they showed when their name was announced…
“Oh yeah, we were excited. We’re always excited. This is a huge tournament and we’re just glad to be a part of it.”

#23 – Sophomore forward Samarie Walker

On what was going through their mind tonight as the bracket was being announced…
“We were very nervous and excited. Then, once we found out where we were going and what seed we were, of course we were very excited for the No. 2 seed.”

On having her former school, UConn, in the same region…
“I’m not too worried about them. Of course we’re worried about ourselves and that’s what I’m worried about – us getting better as a team. I’m going to be excited (if that happens) because that means we’ll be in the Elite Eight. But other than that, we’re just worried about us and getting to that point.”

On not having to deal with UConn right off the bat and taking it one game at a time…
“Exactly, so we’re just worried about this game ahead of us.”

On Coach Mitchell talking so highly of Monday’s practice and what she thought of it…
“I feel like our energy level was very high. We looked like a championship level team today, especially Kastine Evans. She  really played with that mentality.”


 

 

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