LEXINGTON, Ky. – Less than 24 hours after a heart-breaking loss at No. 3 Duke, the 10th-ranked Kentucky Wildcats arrived in Fayetteville, Ark., to prepare for its Southeastern Conference opener vs. Arkansas on Thursday. The Wildcats will take on the one-loss and No. 25 Razorbacks at 8 p.m. EST in Bud Walton Arena. The game will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Radio Network with Neil Price and online at UKathletics.com.
UK (11-2) opens conference play on the road for the third straight season, its first in school history at Bud Walton Arena. The Cats are 12-17 all-time in conference openers.
“We had a good practice today,” UK Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “The players were focused mentally and in tune with how we have to prepare for a very good Arkansas team. Arkansas is one of the best teams in terms of offensive execution that we will have faced up to this point. They seem to pose a great challenge for us each year we play them.”
Despite holding the Blue Devils to their lowest scoring output of the season and a mere .265 percent from the floor, the Wildcats couldn’t overcome 23 turnovers and minus-15 margin on the boards. Junior guard Keyla Snowden (Lexington, Ky.) was once again UK’s leader offensively as she posted a team-high 15 points on 6-of-14 shooting, including three 3-pointers. Senior forward and All-American Victoria Dunlap (Nashville, Tenn.), who played just eight minutes in the first half due to foul trouble, moved up to No. 9 on UK’s all-time scoring list with 10 points. Sophomore and reigning SEC Freshman of the Year A’dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.) followed with a near double-double of nine points and a game-high tying 10 rebounds.
Overall, Dunlap leads UK in almost every statistical category, including scoring (16.5 ppg) and rebounding (9.1 rpg). She is the SEC leader in steals (3.4) and blocks (1.9) per game. Mathies follows in the scoring column with 14.1 points per game while Snowden averages 12.8 ppg and leads the SEC in 3-point field goal percentage (.463) and 3-pointers made per game (3.2).
Arkansas is 12-1 overall, 0-1 in SEC play after falling to Florida, 64-53, in its conference opener on Sunday. Prior to the loss, the Razorbacks opened the season 12-0, the second-best start in program history.
Arkansas has three players averaging in double figures. Lyndsay Harris leads the team with 13.2 ppg while Kentucky native and junior C’eira Ricketts and sophomore Sarah Watkins follow with 12.5 and 12.2 ppg, respectively.
The Razorbacks, coached by former Louisville head coach Tom Collen, are 183-68 (.729) all-time in Bud Walton Arena, including an 8-0 mark this season.
This marks the 27th meeting in the series between Kentucky and Arkansas and the first of two meetings this season. Arkansas joined the SEC in the 1991-92 season and UK has met Arkansas every year since.
UK holds a slight 14-12 lead in the all-time series but trails 8-3 when the game is played at Arkansas. The Cats have seen recent success over the Razorbacks lately having won eight in a row, including three straight on the road. UK won both of last year’s meetings against Arkansas, including a 71-57 victory in the Bud Walton Arena.