LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 20 University of Kentucky women’s basketball team will begin a difficult two-game road stretch Friday at 7 p.m. ET inside Alico Arena in Fort Myers, Fla., when it faces a talented Florida Gulf Coast team that already has one win over a top-25 squad this season.
The game will be broadcast live on ESPN3 with David Moulton and J. Webb Horton on the call. The action can also be seen through WatchESPN on computers, smartphones or tablets. Darren Headrick, in his first year with the program, will be calling the game on the UK Sports Radio Network. Fans in Lexington can hear Headrick’s call on 630AM WLAP. Live stats and free audio will be available online at ukathletics.com.
Kentucky (8-1) in nearing completion of its non-conference schedule. After it finishes this difficult two-game road swing at FGCU and Miami (Fla.) – who have both been receiving votes in the national rankings this season – the Wildcats will only have one more non-conference road game left before starting Southeastern Conference play on Dec. 31 vs. Tennessee at Rupp Arena. UK will host top-five ranked Louisville and top-25 ranked Cal when before breaking for the holiday. Both games this weekend end a stretch of five games in 11 days for Kentucky.
The Wildcats are coming off a dominating 100-62 victory over Evansville on Tuesday, scoring 100+ points for only the 18th time under head coach Matthew Mitchell. UK scored a program-record 35 points in the first quarter and shot a season-best 57.1 percent from the field in the game. Junior guard Maci Morris went 8-for-9 from the field and 4-for-5 from 3 for 20 points, while freshman forward Tatyana Wyatt scored 20 points with 10 rebounds.
Morris leads Kentucky in scoring this season by averaging 16.7 points per game with a team-best 27 3-pointers hit, while fellow junior Taylor Murray is averaging 12.0 points per game and 5.6 rebounds per game with a team-best 37 assists and 16 steals. Wyatt is averaging 12.0 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, while senior guard Makenzie Cann is the only other UK player averaging double figures with 10.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.
As a team, Kentucky is ranked high in several national categories, including 11th nationally and first in the SEC in assist-turnover ratio at 1.52 and 17th in the nation and third in the league in total assists with 161. The Wildcats also rank 18th nationally and fourth in the SEC in blocks (48), 14th nationally and second in the SEC in rebounding margin (11.8), 15th in the nation and first in the league in 3-point field goal percentage (40.9) and eighth nationally and second in the SEC in fewest turnovers per game (11.8).
Florida Gulf Coast, which was ranked sixth nationally in the espnW mid-major rankings at the start of the season, enters Friday's game with an 8-2 record, including a 2-0 mark at home. The Eagles started their season with an 85-61 win over Illinois at home before hitting the road to post wins at FIU, vs. Kent State in a neutral-site game, at Akron and at Siena. FGCU's biggest win of the year came against then-No. 21 DePaul in the Play4Kay Shootout in Las Vegas, defeating the Blue Demons 89-84 in overtime. The Eagles dropped their next two games in the event to top-10 ranked Ohio State, 104-62, and Belmont, 75-65. FGCU has won each of its last two game, taking down Abilene Christian 94-55 on the road before a home win against Southeastern on Dec. 5, 76-66.
As a team, FGCU is shooting 43.3 percent from the field and 37.4 percent from long range, averaging 12.7 made 3s per game. The Eagles are scoring 78.4 points per game, limiting opponents to just 67.2 points per game. Teams are outrebounding FGCU by 1.5 rebounds per game.
Senior forward Rosemarie Julien leads the Eagles this season by averaging 14.3 points per game adding 4.3 rebounds per game. Sophomore forward Nasrin Ulel is averaging 12.3 points per game and is hitting 52.9 percent from long range with 27 made 3s. Senior guard Taylor Gradinjan is averaging 11.6 points per game and has hit a team-best 32 3-pointers. Senior guard China Dow is the only other player averaging double figures at 10.8 while leading the team in rebounds at 6.1 per game.
This will be the first all-time meeting between Kentucky and Florida Gulf Coast in women's basketball. The Kentucky women’s basketball media guide lists a victory over Florida Gulf Coast during the 1975-76 season, however records show that game was actually against Gulf Coast. Florida Gulf Coast did not become an established university until the early 1990s.