LEXINGTON, Ky. – With wins over Georgia and Florida last week, No. 6/6 Kentucky improved to 18-2 overall, 7-0 in the Southeastern Conference, which ties its best start in program history through the first 20 games. The Wildcats look to continue their winning ways when they take on Auburn on Thursday at 7 p.m. ET in Auburn Arena.
UK’s best start to a season was in 1982-83 (21-2). Counting last year’s three SEC wins to end the regular season, the Wildcats are currently riding a 10-game regular season SEC winning streak, including a school-record five consecutive SEC wins on the road.
“We are looking forward to playing again on Thursday,” UK Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “We have a tough opponent ahead of us with Auburn. I’m impressed with their roster and personnel. Coach (Nell) Fortner is one of the best coaches in our league and I know they’ll be prepared. They have some really good athletes with some nice length and they play real tough defense. It will be a real challenge on the road but I like where our team is and how they are practicing right now. We’re just excited to have another opportunity to play in this conference on Thursday night. We’ll go down to Auburn with the intention of winning and see what we can do.”
The Cats are coming off a 57-52 victory over the Gators on Sunday in Memorial Coliseum. Ten players scored at least two points, paced by senior guard Keyla Snowden (Lexington, Ky.) who led with 11. Sophomore guard Kastine Evans (Salem, Conn.) scored all 10 of her points in the second stanza, including eight of them in a key 17-2 second-half run. SEC Freshman of the Week Bria Goss (Indianapolis) pulled down a career-high nine rebounds, while sophomore forward Samarie Walker (West Carrollton, Ohio) came off the bench with nine points, seven rebounds, a career-high tying three blocks and a career-high tying three steals.
Overall, junior guard A’dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.) leads three players in double-digit scoring, averaging 15.3 points per game (third in the SEC). Goss and Snowden follow with 11.7 and 10.0 ppg, respectively. Eleven of UK’s 13 active players average at least 3.7 points per game.
The Wildcats rank in the top 10 of five national statistical categories, including leading the nation in turnover margin (+11.2). The Wildcats have forced at least 20 turnovers in all but two games this season and are averaging 32.2 points per game off turnovers.
Auburn (10-10, 2-5 SEC) enters Thursday’s contest coming off a 57-62 loss at Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss. Junior guard/forward Blanche Alverson scored a team-high 16 points, while sophomore forward Jassany Williams grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds off the bench.
Sophomore guard/forward Tyrese Tanner is the Tigers’ leading scorer, averaging 11.1 points per game and 12.7 points per game in conference action. Auburn is very balanced on the glass, with three players averaging between 4.3 and 4.4 rebounds per game, and senior guard Parrisha Simmons averaging a team-high 5.5 rebounds per game.
Auburn leads the SEC in blocks, averaging 6.4 per game this season. Williams ranks third in the league in blocks with 2.1 per game.
Auburn owns a 25-15 lead in the all-time series with Kentucky, including a 10-6 advantage on the Plains. UK has won three in a row over the Tigers, including the last matchup in Auburn Arena. UK defeated the Tigers twice last season, winning 69-38 in Lexington on Feb. 3, 2011, the largest margin of victory in SEC play in school history. UK won 76-62 on Feb. 27 in its conference finale in Auburn.
The game will not be televised but can be heard live on the UK IMG Sports Radio Network or www.UKAthletics.com with Neil Price calling the action. Fans can follow the UK Hoops team on Twitter at @UKHoopCats and use #UKHoops to comment on the game.