LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 6/7 Kentucky women’s basketball team travels to Waco, Texas on Tuesday, to take on defending national champion and top-ranked Baylor Lady Bears in the prestigious State Farm Tip-off Classic. The game will be televised live at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
Tuesday will mark the first meeting between the teams in program history. Baylor will be the highest Associated Press ranked team UK has faced since upsetting No. 1 Tennessee, 66-63, in 2006. The Wildcats are looking for their first win over a top 10 team in a true road game since the unranked Wildcats defeated No. 8 Western Kentucky in Bowling Green, Ky., on Dec. 11, 1991 (67-66).
“We’re really, really excited for tomorrow and for the university,” UK Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “What a great, great night for us to have the women play on ESPN2 at 6 p.m. ET, and the guys come on and play Duke after that so, just a really great night for Kentucky and Kentucky basketball and we’re really proud to be a part of it. We’re proud to be playing in the State Farm Hall of Fame Tip-off Classic against an incredible program. Coach (Kim) Mulkey has done a great, great job there. It is a chance for our team to go out and really compete against one of the top teams in the country so that’s always a good opportunity and we’re really excited to take the floor tomorrow night.”
Baylor (1-0) returns nine players and all five starters off last season’s squad, which includes 90.4 percent of the scoring and 86.8 percent of individual rebounds returning to the court. Baylor will be led by 2012 consensus National Player of the Year Brittney Griner and All-Americans Odyssey Sims and Destiny Williams. Mariah Chandler returns after a redshirt season and the four newcomers are Chardonae Fuqua’, Kristina Higgins, Niya Johnson and Alexis Prince, the preseason Big 12 Freshman of the Year.
Head coach Kim Mulkey is in her 13th season at Baylor. She has led the Lady Bears to two NCAA national championships (2005 and 2012), 11 NCAA Tournament appearances and seven Big 12 Conference titles in her 12 seasons.
Baylor holds the nation’s longest active win streak at 41 games and the Lady Bears’ 41-game home-winning streak ranks No. 2 nationally, tied with Miami (Fla.).
UK (1-0) returns 10 letter winners and four starters from a team that went 28-7 overall last season, including 13-3 in Southeastern Conference play. The Wildcats won the SEC regular season championship and advanced to their third consecutive NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history, including their second Elite Eight in the last three seasons. UK was picked to repeat as SEC champs this season by the league’s coaches and media.
The Wildcats are coming off a commanding 90-50 win over Delaware State in their season opener. Senior guard and preseason SEC Player of the Year, A’dia Mathies, led the way with 16 points, advancing her to No. 11 on UK’s all-time scoring list with 1,451 points. She also ranks sixth on the career steals list and is just 54 steals shy of tying the school record of 309 set by Stacey Reed from 1991-95.
The Wildcats, who led the nation in forced turnovers last season, picked up where they left off by forcing the Hornets into 32 turnovers which resulted in 43 points. Since the beginning of the 2009-10 season when Mitchell implemented UK’s pressure, trapping, in-your-face defense, the Cats are an impressive 41-5 when forcing 25 or more turnovers. Kentucky has forced double-digit turnovers in 118 consecutive games.