UK Hoops Meets Arkansas in SEC Home Opener
The Wildcats are looking to start the conference season at 2-0 for the first time since 2007-08
Ky. – No. 11/9 Kentucky women’s basketball returns to the friendly
confines of Memorial Coliseum for its Southeastern Conference home
opener vs. Arkansas on Thursday at 6 p.m. ET. The game will be
televised on the UK IMG Sports Network and FSN South.
Wildcats (12-2, 1-0 SEC) are coming off a hard-fought 59-56 win at
Florida on Sunday in the SEC opener. It marked UK’s first SEC-opening
win since 2008 and its third-straight win over Florida. The Cats are
looking to start league play at 2-0 for the first time since the
2007-08 season, and keep its home winning streak alive. The Cats’
current 12-game home winning streak ties for 12th nationally and is the
sixth-longest in school history.
“Arkansas is always one
of the toughest games of the year for us,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew
Mitchell said. “Coach (Tom) Collen does a great job with his team. They
are holding teams to very low scoring, right at 50 points a game, so
they have very solid defense. And then the schemes they run on offense
are always a real challenge. They run a lot of on-ball action and
on-ball screening action. They just have some very talented players,
they’re well-coached and this is always one of the toughest games to
prepare for all season. It’ll be a big challenge for our team. We’ve
been working hard and I feel like we’re making some progress and it’ll
be a great, great opportunity for us to get back home in front of our
crowd tomorrow night – and I hope we have a big one. It’s an extremely
important game. We’ll be looking forward to taking the court and
The Razorbacks (11-2, 0-1 SEC) enter
Thursday’s game coming off a 67-57 loss at Georgia on Jan. 1. Arkansas
was paced by Sarah Watkins, who scored a team-high 15 points while also
grabbing a team-high nine rebounds and blocking two shots.
a 6-foot-3 junior post player from Germantown, Tenn., is the
Razorbacks’ leading scorer, averaging 11.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per
game. Senior forward Ashley Daniels leads Arkansas on the boards,
grabbing 5.8 rebounds per game. Senior guard C’eira Ricketts, a
Louisville, Ky., native, guides the Arkansas offense with 4.4 assists
per game to go with her 10.6 points per game average.
guard A’dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.), who scored a team-high 14
points, was crucial to the Wildcats’ win over the Gators on Sunday.
With UK trailing by two in the first half, Mathies nailed back-to-back
3-pointers, grabbed a rebound and took a charge in the final 60 seconds
to give Kentucky a four-point halftime lead, and the Cats would never
trail again. Freshman guard Bria Goss (Indianapolis) also was a key
catalyst as she scored 11 points, all in the first half, and added four
rebounds and two steals. Sophomore Samarie Walker (West Carrollton,
Ohio) added eight points and seven rebounds in her first SEC contest.
Mathies is UK’s leading scorer with 15.3 points per game (tied for
fourth in the SEC), while Goss is the SEC’s top freshman scorer with
12.2 ppg. Goss has netted double digits in 12 of 14 career games,
including six in a row.
UK leads the nation in turnover
margin (+13.6), and is fifth in steals (15.5) and scoring offense
(81.9). The Cats have forced at least 22 turnovers in all 14 games this
season. Leading the charge is Mathies, who already ranks in the top 10
on UK’s all-time steals list. She averages an SEC-high tying 3.7 steals
per game to go along with her team-best 15.3 points per game. Goss has
also been a key contributor both offensively and defensively as she
averages 12.2 points and 1.9 steals per game.
the 29th meeting in the series between Kentucky and Arkansas. UK leads
the all-time series 15-13, including a 10-3 advantage when playing in
Lexington. UK has won the last five meetings against Arkansas in
Lexington after escaping with a 55-54 win last season in Memorial.