Dec. 27, 2013
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The sixth-ranked Kentucky women’s basketball team looks to conclude nonconference play on a winning note when it plays host to first-time opponent Grambling State on Sunday, Dec. 29 at 2 p.m. ET in Memorial Coliseum. Fans can listen to the UK IMG Sports Radio Network with Neil Price or follow Twitter updates on @UKHoopCats. Live streaming video is available to members of the subscription video portion of www.UKathletics.com.
Single-game reserved tickets cost of $9 for all ages. General admission tickets for adults are $8 while single-game general admission tickets for seniors and children (ages 6-18, 65 and over) are only $5. UK faculty, staff and children ages five and under are admitted free in the general admission seating area, while supplies last. Season tickets are also still available for just $65. Lower-level chair back seating ($80) is sold out.
The Wildcats (11-1) are coming off a heartbreaking 69-61 loss to No. 2 Duke in Rupp Arena on Dec. 22. A school-record 23,706 fans attended the battle of the top-10 teams, breaking the record for the largest crowd to ever see a women’s basketball game in the Commonwealth. The previous record was 22,152 for the first Kentucky-Louisville game played in the KFC Yum! Center Dec. 5, 2010.
Sophomore point guard Janee Thompson (Chicago) led the Wildcats in the loss, scoring all 12 of her points in the second half. Senior forward Samarie Walker (West Carrollton, Ohio) added eight points and grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds and junior forward/center Azia Bishop (Toledo, Ohio) followed with 10 rebounds. The Wildcats shot a season-low 33.3 percent (25-of-75) from the field in the game and a season-low 42.1 (8-of-19) from the free-throw line.
“The players had three or four days off and were able to get back and see their families and enjoy the holiday, so that was good for them,” UK Hoops head coach Matthew Mitchell said. “Now, we’re coming back to try to finish off what’s been a tough nonconference schedule and we have one more nonconference game that we need to earn a victory in and it will be important for us to prepare well over the next couple days. Grambling State is a very quick, athletic team. They really like to push the ball in transition, so that will be a challenge for us to sharpen up our transition defense that we had some breakdowns in, in the last game, so we’re going to be working hard on that. It’ll be important for us to practice well to get ready for Grambling State to see if we can close out. If we are able to earn a victory it will really be a great nonconference season for us. We’re excited to be back and looking forward to our game in Memorial on Sunday afternoon.”
Overall this season, senior forward DeNesha Stallworth (Richmond, Calif.), who is sidelined three-to-four weeks following arthroscopic surgery on her left knee, leads a very balanced scoring attack this season as one of five players in double-digit scoring. She averages a team-high 14.2 points per game, while junior point guard Jennifer O’Neill (Bronx, N.Y.) adds 13.3 points per game. Senior forward Kastine Evans (Salem, Conn.) is averaging 11.6 ppg and Thompson and Walker follow with 10.8 and 10.3 ppg, respectively.
Located in Grambling, La., Grambling State enter Sunday’s game at 3-7 overall after wins vs. New Orleans (76-52), Texas College (92-60) and Philander Smith College (70-64) and losses to Baylor (110-55), SMU (87-65), TCU (95-64), Texas Tech (86-68), Kansas State (83-50), Stephen F. Austin (92-55) and Southern Miss (76-51).
Senior guard Joanna Miller is the team's leading scorer and distributor with 18.2 points and 3.0 assists per game. Miller is also third on the team in rebounding at 6.3 boards per game. Senior forward Victoya Ricks is the only other Lady Tiger averaging double figures at 11.1 points per game. She is the team’s leading rebounder with 8.1 rebounds per contest.
Sunday will mark the first meeting between the programs but UK is 11-0 all-time vs. teams from Grambling’s Southwest Athletic Conference.
Please note that fans arriving approximately 1 hour or less before tip-off are highly encouraged to park at the Transit Center Parking Garage (see shuttle info below) or Parking Structure #5 next to Kennedy’s bookstore. Both are a 5-10 minute walk or a short shuttle ride over to the Coliseum. All surface lots near the Coliseum will likely be full one hour prior to tip-off and you will be re-directed to one of these options. Doors to Memorial Coliseum will open at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.
- All E-lots (Employee Lots) surrounding Memorial Coliseum beginning 3 hours prior to tip-off
- Parking Structure #5 (adjacent to Kennedy’s Bookstore) –access from Limestone or Upper Street. Fans who park here need to pull a white ticket from the dispenser and exchange for a pink voucher with Event Staff at the entrances of the Coliseum.
- Lexington Authority Transit Center Parking Garage, located between High Street and Vine Street, is available on Sunday. If parking in this garage, bring the yellow token and game ticket to the Guest Service table at the Lexington Ave entrance to request a free parking coupon.
- Handicap parking is available in the E-Lot (Employee Lot) north of the Craft Center, adjacent to the metered spaces running along the frontage of the Craft Center with a valid, state issued handicap tag. These spaces (typically 20-30 stalls) are available on a first-come, first-serve basis until full.
Please note: parking is prohibited in any R (Residential) lots. Vehicles parking in Residential lots without a proper permit, along yellow curbs, grass spaces, or other non-specified and unapproved areas may be subject to ticket and/or tow.
- Shuttles are available beginning 1.5 hours prior to tip off from Parking Structure # 5 located off Limestone and Upper Street and the Transit Center Parking Garage located off High Street and Vine Street.
- Parking Structure # 5 (blue route) picks up/drops off on Administration Drive, at the end of the pedestrian sky bridge accessed from the 3rd floor of the parking garage.
- Transit Center Parking Garage (green route) picks up/drops off near the corner of High Street and Martin Luther King.
- Shuttles will start back up 1.5 hours after tip-off (to return guests to their parking areas).
For more information on parking around Memorial Coliseum and other game-day questions visit www.ukathletics.com/wbbgameday.
Media Opportunity - December 27, 2013
“We’re glad to be back, back in action at practice. The players had three or four days off and were able to get back and see their families and enjoy the holiday, so that was good for them. Now, we’re coming back to try to finish off what’s been a tough nonconference schedule and we have one more nonconference game that we need to earn a victory in and it will be important for us to prepare well over the next couple days. Grambling State is a very quick, athletic team. They really like to push the ball in transition, so that will be a challenge for us to sharpen up our transition defense that we had some breakdowns in, in the last game, so we’re going to be working hard on that. They’re going to play some 2-3 zone defense which we also didn’t do very well against in the last game, so it’s a great opportunity for us to get prepared and see how far we can come in three practices and do a good job with them. They have two really explosive players, a good inside-outside combination. (Joanna) Miller, their leading scorer averages 18 points a game and is a really explosive guard that we’ll have to do a really good job on. Then inside, Victoya Ricks is having a good season. She has a real good presence inside at 11 points a game and is a good rebounder. It’ll be important for us to practice well to get ready for Grambling State to see if we can close out. If we are able to earn a victory it will really be a great nonconference season for us. We’re excited to be back and looking forward to our game in Memorial on Sunday afternoon.”
On what he learned about his team after the loss to Duke…
“I think the biggest thing for us from the Duke game is, if we play the way we did in the first half – if you compare that to teams we’re getting ready to start facing in the Southeastern Conference we can probably get beat by anybody and if we play closer to how we did in the second half when we were able to play better in the second half we can probably beat anybody in our conference, so it’s going to be very important for us to understand and stay focused on getting off to a good start or if you do get off to a good start, maintain focus every possession. I just thought there was a stretch there in the first half that really decided the game where Duke made better decisions than we did. I think when two good teams play it really comes down to decisions you make and you’re not able to overcome poor decisions as easily as maybe a team that you have more talent than. Nothing earth shattering, we just didn’t make as good of decisions as Duke did, so they won the game. I think it puts a real premium on us understanding how important our mental approach is as well as our physical approach to the game.”
On if he expects to see his team get better defensively over the break…
“I think what happens for us, we’re not back in class until January 15 and we will play four conference games before we even go back to class, which really frees up some time to start splitting sessions into defense and offense and we’ve had great success with that. I’m really proud of where the team is right now after 12 games. If we can find a way to beat Grambling State on Sunday it will have been a very productive nonconference schedule as far as putting us in a position to have a special season, but I think what will really tell the tale for us in conference will be how good can we practice over the next couple weeks because we need to make up some ground defensively and we need to sharpen up our press. We’re going to work really hard on that today. We just need to sharpen up some things that have slipped a little bit because the games were just coming at us in waves and also I’m so proud of the players having a 3.1 team grade point average. I just can’t tell you how hard they worked down at the end of the semester to make that happen and that was not a done deal until we got the final grades in, so some kids really worked hard at that. The reality of our situation, our practices we haven’t been able to lend ourselves to really focus in on some defensive things that we need to get sharpened up that now we have the opportunity to do. I’m really excited about that.”
On the team struggling with free throws and how they can improve…
“Repetition, repetition and focus. This morning they’re lifting right now and then we’ll go right into the gym and have a free-throw session. It’s nothing but holding them accountable. We’re trying to get everybody at 80 percent this morning, trying to be at 78 percent as a team each game. If they don’t shoot 80 percent this morning, they’ll have to stay back after practice this evening. We’re just trying to get reps, mental focus, and mental preparation. That was one of the really disappointing things. You’re not going to beat a team of Duke’s caliber shooting 8-for-19 many times. You may shoot poorly, it happens; you can win games shooting poorly sometimes, but over the course of the season we need to shoot free throws better. I think we have a good free throw shooting team. A kid like Azia Bishop, last night I worked with her in practice on nothing revolutionary, but just getting in the gym and getting reps. When she misses that first one then it just snowballs, so she has to have the confidence. She was at 70 percent last night at practice, which was a lot better than 0-for-5 she had on Sunday, so she can shoot free throws. I just think that with extra practice time you’ll see some progress there and I doubt that Azia had a lot of time to get in the gym. She had a 3.5 (GPA) last semester and really wanted to have a great academic semester. We’re there down at the end of the semester with finals, so I doubt she got in the gym very much during finals week and shot free throws. I think those thing can improve over the next few weeks.”
On how the frontcourt can take a step forward over the next couple weeks…
“I think we really struggled in a couple of areas. One, I want our guards to find our people in the frontcourt when they’re posting up against the zone and those are reads and that’s something the coaches need to do a good job of helping us structure that in practice so we can do a good job. Related to that, they get frustrated because they’re not touching it, then they stop ducking in and posting. That’s a little double-headed monster that we have to solve. We have to do a better job with guards and then we have to stay disciplined as posts and keep ducking in and then just finishing around the basket. I thought we did such a good job in the second half. Like I told Azia - just think Azia was 2-for-8 and did not take a jump shot in the game. She was 2-for-8 around the basket and 0-for-5 from the free-throw line. Just think if she’d made 6-for-8 and 3-for-5. That’s not to beat Azia, but it’s really an encouraging thing and Azia can do that. We need to do a better job coaching and spending time with her and getting her ready to do those kinds of things because she’s doing the hard part. She’s going to get the offensive board and Samarie (Walker) is on the offensive boards. I just think it’s a balance, focus, a little bit of technique around the bucket that would go a long way for this team because they’re doing some really good things.”