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UK Hoops to Face No. 6 Seed Delaware in NCAA Sweet 16




March 27, 2013

LEXINGTON, Ky. - The seventh-ranked University of Kentucky women's basketball team, fresh off its thrilling 84-70 win over No. 18/15 Dayton on Tuesday, will face sixth-seeded and No. 15/16 Delaware on Saturday, March 30 in the NCAA Sweet 16 in the Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard Bridgeport in Bridgeport, Conn. Game time is noon on ESPN.

Gameday
NCCA Tournament
No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 6 Delaware
Sat., March 30 - 12:00 p.m. ET
Bridgeport, Conn.
Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader | Delaware Get Acrobat Reader
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TV: ESPN
Radio: UK IMG
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Tickets can be purchased by calling the Webster Bank Arena at (203) 345-2400 or online at www.websterbankarena.com. All session adult tickets are $54.50 for side and $39.50 for end zone seats. Students and seniors are $49.50 for sides and $24.50 for end zones. Single-session tickets are $34.50 sides and $24.50 end zones, while student and senior tickets are $29.50 sides and $19.50 end zones.

UK has compiled an outstanding resume en route to one the most successful seasons in school history. The Wildcats have won a school-record 29 games and have advanced to the NCAA Tournament for a school-record fourth consecutive season. This marks UK's third trip to the Sweet 16 in the last four years and fourth overall. UK, now 13-9 all-time in the Big Dance, looks to advance to the Elite Eight for the second straight season and third time in the last four years. The Cats earned their trip to the Sweet 16 with wins over Navy (61-41) and No. 18/15 Dayton (84-70).

Two-time Southeastern Conference Player of the Year and All-America candidate A'dia Mathies has once again paced UK to its record-breaking season. The 5-foot-9 senior guard leads the Wildcats in scoring (16.1 points per game), 3-point field goals made (70) and 3-point field goal percentage (.427). She is second on the team in steals (64) and assists (77). The Louisville, Ky., native is coming off an impressive performance vs. Dayton in the second round as she netted a career-high tying 34 points, her third career 30-point game. Mathies' six 3-pointers also were a career high and she added three rebounds, three steals and two assists in the win.

In the Southeastern Conference, Mathies leads the league in 3-point field goal percentage, and is fifth in scoring and fourth in 3-pointers made. She has reached double-figure scoring in 31-of-34 games this season and has compiled 1,984 career points, just 16 shy of hitting the 2,000-point mark.  Mathies is UK's No. 2 all-time scorer and is UK's career steals leader with 315.

In the front court, 6-3 junior center DeNesha Stallworth (first-team All-SEC by the league coaches and second-team All-SEC by AP) and 6-1 junior forward Samarie Walker (second-team All-SEC and SEC All-Defensive team selection by the league coaches) give UK a dynamic inside presence. The duo combines to average 21.8 points, 14.3 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game.

Delaware (32-3) earned its first Sweet 16 bid after wins over 11th-seeded West Virginia (66-53) and sixth-seeded North Carolina (78-69) in the first and second rounds, respectively. The Blue Hens, who are riding a 27-game winning streak, are led by one of the nation's most dynamic players in 6-5 senior forward Elena Delle Donne. The three-time Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year and two-time All-American leads the team with an average of 25.8 points and 8.4 rebounds per contest. She ranks second nationally in scoring and is fourth in free-throw shooting percentage at 91.7 percent (176-192). Following Delle Donne in the scoring column is senior guard Lauren Carra with 10.7 points per game.

Sunday will mark the second all-time meeting between the programs. The Cats fell to the Blue Hens 86-70 in the teams' first meeting in the opening round of the Odwalla Classic in San Francisco, Calif., on Nov. 24, 2006. UK is 10-10 vs. teams from the CAA.

Media Opportunity - March 28, 2013

Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening statement
"Very proud of our team for reaching the Sweet 16. We had a good trip up to New York City. We were treated very well at St. John's University. I really can't say enough about how those folks treated us up there. It was a first-class experience. I thought the players battled through some tremendous adversity in the second round with our illness, our stomach virus that we had going through the team and just played a fantastic game against a very good Dayton squad. So we've been able to get back home and, as far as we know going into practice today, everyone's feeling well and is full-go for practice. No issues lingering with our stomach virus, so we're excited to get back on the court and prepare for what will be a very tough game against a very good Delaware team. So we're really excited to still be alive in this tournament and we're going to try to keep on marching forward and do our best to prepare well for that."

On whether it will come down to UK stopping Elena Delle Donne ...
"I think that they have really done a good job of putting a great team together and certainly Elena's a very big part of their scoring. But I just am so impressed with how well they play together. She does not do it all by herself. They have a really, really good team chemistry. They play very well together. Everybody plays a key role. They have another couple kids - two or three kids - that are right there at double digits in scoring. To me, I think you're making a big mistake if you put it solely on one player. She's very important obviously to what they want to do because she's so talented, but we'll be really trying to make this more about our team and the Kentucky team and how we do what we do well. I think that'll be very important to make our tempo a factor, our defensive pressure a factor. We're preparing more for the Delaware team that she's a big part of."

On Delaware committing the third-fewest turnovers per game in the country ...
"Well, we're going to try to change that number a little bit if we possibly can. We're going to try to make that a little bit higher. They just have good ball-handlers, good players. Very few players on their team that just can't dribble the ball. Just about everybody can handle the basketball. They're well-coached. Their offenses are constructed with great spacing and they cut really hard. So they're just a well-prepared team and a very good team at executing. And when you pass the ball well, you cut down on turnovers. Now, we need to try to take them out of those well-designed plays and try to get them out of their comfort zone, but that's not anything tremendously different than what we've done all year. And I think you have to be mentally tough in this game. I think Elena's going to make some plays that you have to bounce back quickly from that you may do a great job. She's just that talented. There's very few 6-5 players than can handle and step out and shoot the 3 at 50 percent and post you up. So it's just a real talent that we're going against there and so on those kind of plays when you do your best you've got to run it back at them as fast as you can and see what you can do. I just think the overall quality of their team helps them take care of the basketball."

On this challenge being similar to Baylor ...
"Well, it's a little different from that standpoint of where you can kind of know where Brittney Griner's going to be and that's going to be real close to the basket. And Elena's moving all over the place. She's on both wings, she's on the top of the key, she's on the baseline, she's on the block, she's handling the basketball, so it's very different from the Baylor preparation."

On the similarities of Baylor and Delaware in terms of ballhandling...
"From a quality of handling the basketball and taking care of the ball, it's going to be very important that we pressure them and we better have more success than we did in the second game of the season against Baylor. We'll need to do better than we did in that game."

On if the Baylor game will have any effect on preparing for Delaware...
"No, that game was all about what I chose to put in and get in at that point in the season. That's all that was about. If I ever had another really big game where we were probably a very decided underdog, I would probably try to prepare our team a little differently than that. We have everything in that we're going to have in, outside of maybe some offensive wrinkles you can put in this time of year if you see something that works. But defensively, everything's in now so that really doesn't translate into this game."

On if he's worried about any possible distractions up in Connecticut...
"I'm always worried about any possibilities that come our way as far as distractions go, and I think that's a very, very important part of this tournament is you try to keep those to a minimum, talk to your team about where the focus needs to be. In general, I'm always concerned about that. But I would have to say we've been there and done that for one year, and now I would guess that it's just going to be an absolute circus up there about maybe it will be Elena's (Delle Donne) time to endure all that that Samarie (Walker) did last year. It wasn't bad last year. Samarie handled it great. The people up there handled it great. They were legitimate questions to ask. I would think they've all been answered. They may be asked again. People may still be interested, but I think both parties have moved forward in a way that obviously Connecticut is such a great program and I think Samarie's happy, so I think it was a good outcome and result for everyone. I don't know that that is going to have any type of effect. She was very close to the kids on the Dayton team and knew them and it didn't seem to affect her play. The stomach virus got her a little bit in the game, so hopefully that won't get her in any games up in Bridgeport. I don't anticipate that being anything, but I will check in with all of them just to see where their heads are just to make sure that we don't have anything bouncing around in our head and limit our distractions as much as we can, as much as possible."

On any additional pressure on reaching a Final Four...
"It's desire more than pressure. It's just a strong, strong desire. I'm telling you now, I said this up in New York, last year we made the Sweet 16 by beating a team by one point and you know, we just made so many plays in the game that it could have gone either way, and that was a really good team. People probably think we were better than maybe we were or would have thought we were worse than we were. If we hadn't made the Sweet 16, it's just so hard right now to think about it right now as pressure. It's just hard to win games now. It's hard to win any in the NCAA Tournament. I know our team and our program has a really strong desire to get to the Final Four. We've stated it clearly. We think we have a chance to do it. We think we have a fighting chance going up there that we could possibly do it with the four teams that are up there. Certainly no guarantees. I wouldn't call it pressure, I'd call it just a burning desire to try to get it done. I know the team would love to do it."

On how much UK's schedule has prepared them for the NCAA Tournament...
"I feel prepared. I thought that Dayton was an incredible test. I thought Navy was for the large gap in seeding was a tough test. I thought they were well prepared and tested us. We just couldn't show up and kind of go through the motions. I think our team is very battle tested and so we've shown some good games against some really good competition. Obviously, five times we've fallen short against really good competition. There's not a game on our schedule where you say, 'Well, they just kind of didn't play well against a poor team.' There's none of that in this team. I think right now what it comes down to is can we make some shots, can we make some stops? It is a fine, fine line now about winning and losing and advancing, so I have no doubt we can compete as far as what's happened up to this season. I think we've proven we can play at a high level, now we just have to go do it."

On if they did anything in the offseason to improve on 3-point shooting this season...
"I just think it's we continue to add talent to the roster and we continue to add shooters in the mix. I think Jennifer (O'Neill) coming in this year, where she didn't play last year, is a big boost to our 3-point shooting percentage. You now have a post player that can get out there and make some in (DeNesha) Stallworth. You know, (Janee) Thompson can make 3s. A'dia (Mathies) is one of the best out there, Kastine (Evans), Bria (Goss) and we have a lot of players that can make them and I think probably too, the presence of the two inside maybe opens some things up and maybe have gotten us some better looks. I haven't given it great thought, maybe I need to start doing a better job but I don't look at a lot of stats with our team. I heard this guy that's in the men's tournament now that does nothing but look at stats and he's had a great year, so maybe I should start looking at stats, so I don't know what to do there. I couldn't tell you what we are shooting from the 3-point line right now. That would be my guess just having good shooters out there and they are making them."

On how far this program has come to be in a marquee situation out in Bridgeport, Conn...
"I think it's fantastic to be in that environment. I think it is very important that you recognize excellence in your sport and you strive for that in your sport and that's what we're trying to do. We are trying to be the best and I don't think that there is any question that Connecticut is a team that has been so excellent over the course of time, which is very admirable and is something that stretches you and motivates you and you see how their teams perform it is very motivating. Maryland has won a national championship and been very successful and is another program that is perennially in the top-10 in the country, another great program to watch and observe and see how they handle things and how they play. And then Delaware, what an incredible run they have had and really a coach that has been there 17 years and has averaged 20 wins a year and has a very impressive program. I just think it's a wonderful atmosphere to go into. I hear ticket sales are going well and people are excited about it, so we feel very honored to be in the tournament and we feel very excited to be in this atmosphere and be among some of the best teams in the country and how we stack up."

On how it feels to be named alongside UCONN, Maryland and Delaware...
"Well we feel really blessed that so many people have worked so hard to help us get to this point I mean it's just been really an incredible turn of events here over the last four years compared to what had happened here historically so it is something that we are very very excited about. Something that we take a lot of pride in that people would recognize our program and associate us with excellence in any shape or form is really exciting for us. We have a long way to go, we are not where we want to be but we are working each and every day to get one step closer and that's what we are going to try to do this weekend."

On if Delle Donne is mobile enough to avoid UK's trapping defense...
"I think that we still want to make tempo a factor in the game. I still think we want to make pace a factor in the game. That's how we're built and that's how were constructed. If that plays no factor in the game then we're not very good. No matter who the personnel is we have to do that. All I'm saying about Elena is that she is one of the most talented basketball players on the planet and she is very, very good and I would say that this time of year and this kind of atmosphere she gives them a chance to beat anybody, she's that good. She is somebody that we will work real hard to defend along with her teammates and I just think we will really need to play hard to beat a good Delaware team, but we certainly feel like we have an excellent team that we are going up there with. It ought to be a heck of a game and we are really looking forward to getting up there and seeing how we stack up."

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

On how much pressure she feels as a senior to get to the Final Four ...
"Oh, it's not really any pressure. We're just going to go out there and play. If we give our best effort, then we should be able to advance to the Final Four, but it's no pressure. We're just going to go out there and do what we're used to doing."

On avoiding trying to match Delle Donne play for play ...
"I'm definitely not going to try to match her play for play. She's an extraordinary player. We see her on ESPN and the great things that she does, especially for her family and the state of Delaware. I'm not trying to match her play for play, but I will give my best effort. I know she will and as a team we're going to give our best effort. I'm not really worried about that."

On what she sees when she watches Delle Donne ...
"She's just an all-around talent. She has great post-up moves and she's got guard skills. She can rebound, block shots. She can pretty much do everything, especially for somebody to be 6-5. We're just looking for a great game and she's going to be a great matchup for whoever has to check her."

On being battle-tested heading into the Sweet 16 ...
"I think we're very ready. We believe we can beat anybody in the nation if we come with our best effort and play how we can play at the top of our level. We're not really worried about anybody else; we're focused on ourselves, and if we play like Kentucky should play, then we should have a great outcome."

On whether the win over Dayton was the most satisfying on the season ...
"I think so because it could have been an easy game where we went down and just gave up and not fought and just said that we've got people sick and came out with a loss (against) a great Dayton team. We definitely pushed through that and made it to the Sweet 16."

On whether the experience of playing Baylor could help against Delaware ...
"It definitely could help. I think it's more so based on what we do instead of worrying about what they do and us making open shots and doing things like that that we didn't do when we played against Baylor. I think that can really help us out a lot and if we just focus on us then we should have a good outcome in any game we play from here on out."

On the improvement of her 3-point shot this season and what she did to improve...
"Just shoot. I think that's really the only think I did. I guess the second year after the line got moved back, that may have helped out a little bit. But I just got in the gym and shot more this year."

On her mentality when she releases a shot ...
"I expect it to go in. Games where it doesn't, I'm not too worried about it. I get in more shots and I know that it eventually it is going to go in. I think when you get confidence and you see buckets going in, it makes it grow even more. I'm glad it's going in right now."

#32, Kastine Evans, Jr., G

On if the team was drained after playing a game where most of them had a stomach bug ...
"We didn't have practice the day after so it was a good day to just get mentally focused and physically back right and get our health back together. After a tough win with the sickness going around, being able to pull it out and have a day off afterwards was good for us."

On going home and playing in front of her family and friends ...
"It is going to be exciting. Last year, we went to Rhode Island and I had a good crowd up there. But it is always fun to go home, especially when you are not the only person going home because Jen (O'Neil) and Jelleah (Sidney) will have a good fan base there and people to make some noise for us."

On how last year's experience could help this year's team ...
"I think it could help a lot because you understand the atmosphere it will be like with UCONN there. They have bought a lot of tickets and they will have a strong fan base there. Just knowing that is something that is going to be there and they will show up to the games. But our focus right now is on Delaware and understanding that Elena Delle Donne is a great player and a great person for them and we have to put our focus on that."

On having played big-named players before and how that helps preparing for Delle Donne ...
"Yeah, it helps us and our mental mindset in getting prepared for the game and understanding that there are some things you have to do mentally to prepare because all of the physical work has already been done. Our preparation now is going to be more mental than physical. A lot of things that we have already done have been what we have done throughout the whole season, so they are not things we can change, just getting more prepared mentally."

On having played other teams in the Sweet 16 and if that gives them confidence ...
"We have definitely prepared very well throughout the whole season in knowing that we have to use our preparation now. We can't rely on little things to happen. We have to rely on what we have done since June and understand that we have had a lot of big games and great players that we have played against. We need to understand that all the games we have played we can pull from and use that for our potential."

On Elena Delle Donne ...
"She is a great player, especially with her size and guard-like tendencies. She is a tough matchup for anybody and she is a really good team player. Just from watching her she looks like a great leader and somebody that the team really relies on. We are going to do our best to take her out of that and take the rest of the team out of that. That is something that we always try to do is take teams out of the stuff they try to do."

On A'dia Mathies and if she is underrated ...
"I think that A'dia has always been overlooked throughout her career and even in high school. She didn't get as much exposure as maybe the other players who are out now might have gotten. A'dia is a very talented and smart player and I learn a lot from her just by watching her and talking to her. We are usually roommates on the road so we get to have a lot of conversations and she is just an amazing athlete and it's amazing to see someone like that. You don't always see players like that that have the athletic ability and mental capacity that she has."


 

 

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