LEXINGTON, Ky. – No. 7/7 Kentucky women’s basketball has been making history all season, and hopes to continue re-writing the record books Monday. The Wildcats are looking for their first-ever win in Thompson-Boling Arena, and first win in Knoxville since 1985 when they meet No. 11/11 Tennessee at 7 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on ESPN2 and is the first women's collegiate basketball game in 3D as part of ESPN's Big Monday Presented by Bud Light and Play 4Kay telecast.
The Wildcats, who defeated the Lady Vols earlier this season in Lexington 61-60 and sit atop of the Southeastern Conference standings at 10-1, have their sights set on winning their first SEC regular season championship since 1982. The Cats (21-3, 10-1 SEC) are just one win away from tying the most SEC wins in school history at 11, and their four SEC road wins are two shy of tying the school record of six set in 2005-06.
“We have a game on Monday vs. Tennessee that will be really tough,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “We had a great game with them here at Memorial (Coliseum). Obviously we were real fortunate to come out on top in that one. We learned a lot from that game and we are working hard to try to make some corrections that didn’t go well in that game and just get as prepared as we can for what we know will be a very, very tough challenge for our team. We are excited about it, we are looking forward to it and we will see what happens on Monday.”
Kentucky’s 21-3 start ties its best start in program history. Kentucky also started 21-3 in 1982-83. UK?set three school records of consecutive regular-season conference wins (13), consecutive SEC wins to begin a season (10) and consecutive SEC road wins (6) before falling at LSU last week.
Leading the way for the Wildcats is junior All-America and SEC Player of the Year candidate A’dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.). Mathies leads the team in almost every statistical category, including scoring (15.1), steals (2.8) and 3-point field goal percentage (.371). She is also second on the team in rebounding (5.3), assists (2.6), blocks (0.7) and 3-point field goals made (39). SEC Freshman of the Year contender Bria Goss (Indianapolis) follows in the scoring column with 11.4 ppg. She has scored in double digits in two of the last three games, and she leads the team in charges taken with 15. Sophomore forward Samarie Walker (West Carrollton, Ohio) is the leading rebounder with 6.3 rebounds per game.
UK ranks in the top 10 of four national statistical categories, including leading the nation in turnover margin (+11.9). The Cats have forced at least 20 turnovers in 20 games this season, including a school-record high in SEC play of 36 vs. Ole Miss.
Tennessee (17-7, 8-3 SEC) enters Monday’s contest coming off a 79-93 loss at intrastate foe Vanderbilt. The Lady Vols were led by sophomore guard Meighan Simmons’ team-high 20 points. Freshman forward Cierra Burdick led Tennessee on the glass with nine boards. Freshman guard Ariel Massengale had seven assists and just two turnovers in the loss.
Senior guard/forward Shekinna Stricklen is the Lady Vols’ leading scoring, averaging 14.9 points per game. Forward Glory Johnson, a graduate student, is the leading rebounder for Tennessee, pulling down 9.3 rebounds to go with her 13.8 points per game average. In all, Tennessee has six players averaging 8.0 or more points.
This is the 57th meeting between the border rivals, the 23rd in Knoxville. UK has met UT more times than any other rival. The Lady Vols lead the overall record 48-8, including a 20-2 advantage in Knoxville. UT has won the last 15 meetings in Thompson-Boling Arena over the Cats. UK’s last win in Knoxville was Jan. 23, 1985 in the Stokely Athletics Center. UK has never won in Thompson-Boling Arena.
The game also can be heard live on the UK IMG Sports Radio Network or www.UKAthletics.com with Neil Price calling the action. Fans can follow the UK Hoops team on Twitter at @UKHoopCats and use #UKHoops to comment on the game.