LEXINGTON, Ky. – Thursday marks a battle between border rivals and two of the nation’s top 10 teams when No. 9/8 Kentucky women’s basketball plays host to No. 6/7 Tennessee in Memorial Coliseum. The game will be televised live on FSN at 7 p.m. ET with Dave Baker and Debbie Antonelli calling the action.
The Wildcats (14-2, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) are off to a 3-0 start in conference play for the first time since 1992-93 and are looking for their first 4-0 start in school history. UK also looks to keep its 14-game home winning streak alive and snap a four-game losing skid to the Lady Vols.
“We’re looking forward to a tough game tomorrow night against Tennessee and it should be a great atmosphere,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “Tennessee has a very, very good team. I’ve been very impressed as I’ve tried to get prepared for the game watching them on video. They have a lot of great players and a lot of weapons on offense and tough defense. It’s another rock ‘em sock ‘em night in the SEC and we will see if we can come out and play hard and earn a victory.”
Leading the way for Kentucky this season is junior guard and Naismith Award Watch List member A’dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.). She continues to dominate in almost every statistical category as she averages 16.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.4 steals per game (16th nationally). She scored a team-high 21 points, including a career-high five 3-pointers, vs. Arkansas and followed that performance with 20 points and five rebounds in UK’s record-setting win over Mississippi State.
Freshman Bria Goss (Indianapolis, Ind.) also continues to impress as she has hit 8-of-11 from the field over the last two games, including 6-of-7 from beyond the arc. Goss has reached double figures in scoring in 14 of 16 games, including each of the last eight and is the SEC’s top freshman scorer at 12.2 ppg.
No. 6/7 Tennessee enters Thursday’s contest coming off a convincing 69-38 victory on the road at Arkansas on Sunday. The Lady Volunteers (12-3, 3-0 SEC) are led by Glory Johnson, freshman point guard Ariel Massengale and Shekinna Striklen. Johnson, the reigning SEC Player of the Week is seventh in the conference in scoring (14.3 ppg) and third in rebounding (9.8 rpg). Massengale is passing out 4.9 assists per game, third-best in the SEC, and holds a conference-leading assist/turnover ratio of 2.7. Striklen, a 6-foot-2 senior guard/forward, is the Lady Vols’ leading scorer, and ranks fourth in the SEC, averaging 15.5 points per game.
Tennessee is led by legendary head coach Pat Summitt. Summitt is in her 38th year as head coach of Tennessee, and is the all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball history – men or women in any division. Summitt holds an impressive record of 1,083-202. UK head coach Matthew Mitchell served as a graduate assistant under Summitt during the 1999-2000 season where the Lady Vols went 33-4 before losing in the national championship game to UConn.
UK ranks in the top 10 of four national statistical categories. The Cats lead the nation in turnover margin (+12.6), are sixth in scoring offense (82.0) and steals per game (14.9) and eighth in scoring margin (24.2). The Cats have forced at least 22 turnovers in 14-of-15 games. The Cats have forced at least 22 turnovers in all 14 games this season, including three games with 40 or more.
Thursday marks the 56th meeting between the border rivals, and the 27th in Lexington. UK has met UT more times than any other UK rival. The Lady Vols lead the overall record 48-7, including a 21-5 advantage in Lexington.
A limited amount of general admission tickets remain for $7 while single-game general admission tickets for seniors and children (18 and under, 65 and over) are only $4. Age 5 and under are admitted free. Fans interested in tickets can visit the Joe Craft Center ticket office, go to UKathletics.com, or call the UK ticket office at 1-800-928-CATS.
A reminder that UK started its spring semester Wednesday, therefore, women's basketball parking for Thursday’s game is available in the following surface lots and parking structures:
• Student Center Lot - off Euclid Ave
• MLK South Lot - between Lexington Ave and MLK Blvd. and south (towards Euclid) of the center drive lane. DO NOT PARK IN NORTH MLK LOT (closest to Wildcat Lodge) AS THIS IS A RESIDENTIAL LOT AND SUBJECT TO TICKET/TOW
• Handicapped Parking (first come-first served until full) is located in the Northeast corner of the MLK South Lot, must have valid state-issued hang tag
• Joe Craft Center North E-Lot - large lot located north of the Joe Craft Center, and accessible via Lexington Avenue or Rose St.
• Good Samaritan surface Lot - accessible off MLK Blvd
• Parking Structure #5 - entrances off Limestone and S. Upper
Other important notes about Thursday’s game:
• UK Athletics encourages women's basketball fans to arrive early to ease traffic and parking congestion around the Coliseum.
• Doors to the Coliseum will open one (1) hour prior to tip-off.
• Surface event lots (i.e. Student Center, Hardymon, South MLK, Joe Craft Center North and Good Samaritan Surface Lot) typically reach capacity approximately 45 minutes prior to tip-off, at which point, vehicles should proceed to Parking Structure #5 (PS#5).
• The PS #5 shuttle will begin one hour prior to tip and end one hour post-game. The PS #5 shuttle picks up on Administration Drive, accessible via the sky bridge located on the 3rd Floor of PS#5.