Dec. 2, 2011
LEXINGTON, Ky. - No. 12/10 Kentucky looks to continue its winning streak and remain undefeated when it meets No. 10/11 Louisville on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET in Memorial Coliseum.
Kentucky is 7-0 and is looking for its 28th consecutive win at home vs. a nonconference opponent. This is UK's best start to a season since the 2009-10 season when the Cats began 11-0.
"We are definitely excited for our game on Sunday," UK Hoops head coach Matthew Mitchell said. "It will be a huge challenge, our toughest challenge by far this season. I think we will find out a lot about our team. Two highly ranked teams and a big rivalry in this game, so it will be an exciting atmosphere and we are really appreciative of our crowd, having it sold out. It has all the makings for a great game; we are looking forward to it."
The Wildcats' defensive pressure has once again been their bread and butter as they lead the nation in turnover margin (+17.6). The Cats (7-0) have forced a league-high 250 turnovers for an average of 35.7 forced turnovers per game. Leading the charge is Louisville native A'dia Mathies. Mathies, who already ranks in the top 10 on UK's all-time steals list, averages a Southeastern Conference-high 4.4 steals per game to go along with her team-best 15.4 points per game. She has netted double-figure points in all seven games this season, including a season-high 20 points twice. Freshman Bria Goss (Indianapolis) has also been a key contributor as she averages 10.9 points and 5.7 rebounds a game. Senior Keyla Snowden (Lexington, Ky.) and sophomore Kastine Evans (Salem, Conn.) each add 10.7 ppg, while sophomore Samantha Drake (Bardstown, Ky.) is the team's leading rebounder with 8.6 rebounds per game.
Louisville (7-1) travels to Lexington after a 105-62 win over Murray State on Tuesday. The Cardinals are led by senior forward Monique Reid, who is averaging 17.0 points per game. On the glass, sophomore center Cierra Warren and freshman forward Sara Hammond average 6.3 and 5.6 rebounds per game, respectively.
This is the 48th meeting between intrastate rivals Kentucky and Louisville. The Cats lead the overall series 29-18, including a 19-4 advantage when the game is played in Lexington. UK won the last meeting in Memorial, 101-67.
This marks the second time in the series that both teams have been ranked in the top 25 of the national polls but the first time both teams have been ranked in the top 15. The last time both teams were ranked was in 2006.
Tickets are sold out. If not able to attend the game, it will be televised live on the UK IMG Sports Network and Fox Sports South. A live video stream is also available via ESPN3.com. It also can be heard on the UK IMG Sports Radio Network with Neil Price calling the action for the sixth consecutive season. Fans can also follow the UK Hoops team on Twitter at @UKHoopCats and use #UKHoops to comment on the game.
Women's basketball parking for Sunday's game is available in the following surface lots and parking structures:
- Student Center Lot - off Euclid Ave
- MLK South Lot - between Lexington Ave and MLK Blvd. and south (towards Euclid) of the center drive lane. DO NOT PARK IN NORTH MLK LOT (closest to Wildcat Lodge) AS THIS IS A RESIDENTIAL LOT AND SUBJECT TO TICKET/TOW
- Handicapped Parking (first come-first served until full) is located in the Northeast corner of the MLK South Lot, must have valid state-issued hang tag
- Joe Craft Center North E-Lot - large lot located north of the Joe Craft Center, and accessible via Lexington Avenue or Rose St.
- Good Samaritan surface Lot - accessible off MLK Blvd
- Parking Structure #5 - entrances off Limestone and S. Upper
- Doors to the Coliseum will open one (1) hour prior to tip-off.
- UK Athletics encourages women's basketball fans to arrive early to ease traffic and parking congestion around the Coliseum.
- Surface event lots (i.e. Student Center, Hardymon, South MLK, Joe Craft Center North and Good Samaritan Surface Lot) typically reach capacity approximately 45 minutes prior to tip-off, at which point, vehicles should proceed to Parking Structure #5 (PS#5).
- The PS #5 shuttle will begin one hour prior to tip and end one hour post-game. The PS #5 shuttle picks up on Administration Drive, accessible via the sky bridge located on the 3rd Floor of PS#5.
Pre-Louisville Media Opportunity - Dec. 2, 2011
"First I want to offer our best wishes to our volleyball team tonight. They have a huge game down in College Station. Craig Skinner and his team have done a great job and we are hoping they can win tonight and get back here for the regional's, so that will be exciting. We are definitely excited for our game on Sunday. It will be a huge challenge, our toughest challenge by far this season. I think we will find out a lot about our team. Two highly ranked teams and a big rivalry in this game, so it will be an exciting atmosphere and we are real appreciative of our crowd, having it sold out. It has all the makings for a great game; we are looking forward to it."
On Amber Smith talking about the number 26, the deficit in last year's game...
"Well, I haven't brought it up very much. I haven't found a lot of value over the years in going back, other than to show anything we can teach from it. A lot of the same players in the game, so if that helps with any motivation then that's fine. I really think for us the biggest thing we need to focus on is not what happened last year, but the players that are on the floor for the University of Louisville are very, very good, and very talented. They are well coached; they are a tough, tough basketball team. I think trying to think about and prepare for things that will help you be successful in the game is where your energy needs to be focused. I will tell you this, any motivation any player can use I am all for, if that helps Amber (Smith) in some way. But that's not something we are very focused on."
On how this game will gauge where they are as a team...
"I think it's a really important game because of the rivalry. Anytime Louisville and Kentucky get together it's a special happening, because we are rivals. But in the bigger picture I think it is a very useful game because they are so good, and have so many weapons. We will have to play well. Their guards are so good, they can make you look bad at times, and I'm sure they will make us look bad at times. How will we respond to that type of challenge that we are faced with in a game? We have made a ton of mistakes this year and we are 7-0. Sometimes the other team couldn't take advantage of the mistakes and I think that Louisville will be able to take advantage of the mistakes. Our defense is high-risk high-reward and you are just going to give up some buckets, how do you respond to those? We will learn as much about our team's makeup and how tough they are then anything else. I think its two really talented teams going at it and we will see who wins, but I think for us, it can really show us what our team is made of."
On the expectations for the crowd...
"I think they will be energetic. I think it will be a great, great atmosphere. Every time we take the floor we are excited in Memorial Coliseum and the more people we have cheering for us the more exciting it is. I think it's fantastic and I appreciate all the hard work that everybody has put into it. Nathan Schwake, our marketing person, does a great job and works really hard. I thank the fans for buying tickets and making the effort to get in here. I really appreciate it and it will make for a special afternoon. Now we need to go out and play and give them something to cheer for."
On if Amber Smith's motivation is an indicator for the rest of the team's motivation...
"It can be for us. As I've watched them practice I don't think motivation is going to be the biggest challenge we face. I think the crowd will be into it and I think our players understand it is a big game. Not only the rivalry, but both teams are really expected to have great seasons, with both teams highly ranked. It is just a big game, but I told them yesterday that's what we want to play in at Kentucky and I think it's just a credit to both programs here in the Commonwealth to have highly ranked teams and it makes the rivalry more special. We have major problems if we are not excited. I thought Louisville played much harder than we did last year and you saw the results. Whether Amber is up for the game or down for the game, I think we have plenty of players on the team that are ready to go and ready to play. It is going to be a tough battle."
On the level of recruiting success and women's basketball in the state of Kentucky...
"I think the most exciting part about the game is the players playing in the game. There are really good players on both sides and that's what will make for an exciting game. Which team can come out and make the most plays will win. They have some real strengths, hopefully we have some strengths. It will be a real tough game. I think that's the most exciting thing for their fans and our fans no matter if we are playing each other. If you are going to one of the games you are going to see really good players hit the floor. I think it's great for women's basketball.