March 16, 2012
No. 12/11 Kentucky 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 other first round matchup in Ames, Iowa, features No. 7 seed Green Bay (30-1) and No. 10 seed Iowa State (18-12).
The Wildcats have had one of the most successful seasons in UK Hoops history thus far. In addition to winning a school-record 13 Southeastern Conference games, Kentucky won its first SEC regular season championship in 30 years, and has won 25 games for the third straight season for the first time in program history.
UK has been led, in part, by junior guard A'dia Mathies, who was named the SEC Player of the Year as well as first team All-SEC and SEC All-Defensive Team. Mathies is also in contention for four national player of the year awards, including the John R. Wooden Award, Naismith Trophy, Wade Trophy and U.S. Basketball Writers Association National Player of the Year Award. Mathies leads the Wildcats in scoring (15.7 points per game), steals (82) and 3-point field goal percentage (.381). The Louisville, Ky., native is second on the team in 3-point field goals made (48), rebounds (5.3 boards per game) and assists (2.5 assists per game).
Scouting McNeese State
- 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 were led in that game by junior guard Caitlyn Baggett, who scored a team-high 21 points, including four 3-pointers. Baggett's twin sister, Ashlyn, added 14 points and a team-high five assists. Senior forwards Kendra Wells and Martika Hull added 12 and 11 rebounds, respectively.
- The Baggett twins lead McNeese State in scoring, with Ashlyn averaging 15.7 points per game and Caitlyn averaging 14.2 points per game. Caitlyn also runs the Cowgirls' offense with 4.2 assists per game. Wells and Hull lead the Cowgirls on the glass, pulling down 10.3 and 9.2 rebounds per game, respectively.
- Brooks Donald-Williams is in her fifth year leading the McNeese State Cowgirls, and has led the Cowgirls to new heights. Williams led McNeese to its second ever Southland Conference title last season and its first-ever Southland Conference Tournament title. It's under Williams' coaching that the Cowgirls are now in their second consecutive NCAA Tournament, and their second ever NCAA Tournament. Williams, the Southland Conference Coach of the Year in 2011, is 83-73 (.532) at McNeese. The Cowgirls' back-to-back 26-7 seasons are their first 20-win seasons in 25 years.
- The Cowgirls have won nine consecutive games leading into the NCAA Tournament.
Kentucky vs. McNeese State
- Kentucky and McNeese State have met just once in their histories, an 85-50 decision in favor of the Wildcats on Nov. 28, 2009. In that game, which came during the third year of each coach's tenure, then-freshman A'dia Mathies scored 16 points on 8-10 shooting, while also grabbing five rebounds.
- UK is 4-0 vs. teams from the Southland Conference. UK is 1-0 vs. McNeese State and Nicholls State and 2-0 vs. Sam Houston State after a 73-52 win this season at home vs. the Bearkats.