LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 5/6 Kentucky women’s basketball team will put its nine-game winning streak on the line when it travels to Chicago on Thursday, Dec. 12 to meet DePaul in the McGrath-Phillips Arena. Game time is at 6 p.m. CT/7 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.
The Wildcats (9-0) look to go 10-0 for just the third time in school history but will have to do without All-America candidate and one of the team’s top scorers and rebounders in senior DeNesha Stallworth (Richmond, Calif.). The 6-foot-3 forward will be out three-to-four weeks after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery on her left knee Wednesday morning to remove an articular cartilage that was floating in her knee.
“Not the kind of news you want to hear, but we are glad it was nothing serious,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “Her knee just kept swelling after the Baylor game. Not quite sure when the injury took place. We have moved forward dealing with it and have a lot of confidence in our medical staff and we think she will be back good as new here in three-to-four weeks. That was a bit of tough news for us, but we are very excited about the opportunity we have to go to DePaul. They are a very quality basketball team. Certainly when you lose someone like DeNesha everybody has to rally and really come together and work hard and pick up the slack that’s created by her absence. I think that our team is certainly capable of doing that and I think they will want to do that. We had a good practice this morning and working hard trying to get ready for what will be a very well-coached DePaul team. They have good athletes that can really spread the floor and put pressure on your defense. We will have to be sharp and prepared and really tough to go up and get a victory at DePaul. We are looking forward to that challenge.”
With Stallworth’s injury, junior center Azia Bishop (Toledo, Ohio) will move into the starting lineup. Bishop has played in all nine games and averages 6.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. She leads the team in blocks this season with 11.
“We will get Azia (Bishop) into the starting lineup and if you look at Azia’s numbers (she’s) very productive, around seven points and seven rebounds in 17 minutes on average,” Mitchell said. “You add another eight minutes to her or eight or nine minutes and we are hoping to see those numbers go up with extra time on the floor. Now she will have to get that done. I think she is playing probably her best basketball since she has been at Kentucky.”
Kentucky is coming off a thrilling win over No. 9 Baylor in what is being called one of the most epic games in college basketball history. Playing in a double-header with the UK men’s team in the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas last Friday night, the Wildcats defeated the Lady Bears in quadruple overtime, 133-130. Jennifer O'Neill scored a team record 43 points.
Jennifer O’Neill, who has come off the bench in all nine games this season, leads a very balanced scoring attack. She averages a team-high 14.7 points per game and is one of six players to average in double-digit scoring this season. Stallworth follows close behind with 14.2 ppg, while Evans averages 12.3 ppg. Three Wildcats, Thompson, Bria Goss and Walker, average 10.9, 10.3 and 10.0 ppg, respectively. Walker is also grabbing a team- and SEC-high 10.0 rebounds per game.
The Blue Demons enter the game at 4-2 after wins over Harvard (99-75), Duquesne (88-77), Illinois State (80-67) and Loyola (93-55) and losses to No. 5 Notre Dame (92-76) and Northwestern (82-79).
Junior guard Megan Rogowski leads the team in scoring at 14.3 points per game and is one of four players averaging double figures. Senior forward Jasmine Penny averages 14.2 points, sophomore guard/forward Megan Podkowa averages 12.8 points and a team-best 7.2 rebounds per game and Hrynko chips in 12.0 points a contest.
Thursday will mark the fourth matchup in school history vs. DePaul. UK leads the series 3-0, including a 1-0 mark in Chicago. This will mark UK’s first game vs. DePaul in Chicago since the teams’ first meeting in 1983. The Wildcats won 72-48 on Jan. 26. The teams met last season in Rupp Arena with UK taking a 96-64 win.