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No. 5/4 UK Hoops Returns to Memorial Sunday vs. LSU

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 5/4 Kentucky women’s basketball team looks to get back on the winning track when it returns to the friendly confines of Memorial Coliseum on Sunday, Jan. 27 to face LSU at 3 p.m. EST. The game will be televised live on SportSouth, FS Southwest, Sun Sports and Fox Sports South. It also will be available on ESPN3 and the UK IMG Sports Radio Network with Neil Price.

Fans can follow the UK Hoops team on Twitter at @UKHoopCats and use #UKHoops to comment on the game.

Single-game reserved tickets cost of $9 for all ages. General admission tickets for adults are $8 while single-game general admission tickets for seniors and children (ages 6-18, 65 and over) are only $5. UK faculty, staff and children ages five and under are admitted free in the general admission seating area, while supplies last.

The Wildcats (18-2, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) also look to snap a two-game losing skid to the Lady Tigers and extending their school-record home winning streak to 34. The streak, which began with a win over LSU on Feb. 13, 2011, ranks second nationally behind Baylor’s 49-game home winning streak. Kentucky has won a school-record 14 straight home games vs. SEC opponents.

“We have a big challenge ahead of us with LSU on Sunday,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “They are a very aggressive team. They have some explosive weapons offensively and they really get after you on defense. It’s clearly an important game for us. We need to protect the home court and see if we can get another SEC victory, but it will be a tough game.”

Against the Gamecocks on Thursday, UK struggled to get its offense going as it shot just 32.8 percent from the floor (19-of-58) for an SEC-low 50 points. It was the fewest points scored by the hot-streaking Wildcats since netting 48 vs. Louisville on Dec. 2, 2012. In a very physical battle, the Gamecocks capitalized on 27 trips to the free throw line, hitting 13 of them, while UK was 7-of-11.

Redshirt sophomore point guard Jennifer O’Neill (Bronx, N.Y.) led UK with 17 points, on 4-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc. Senior A’dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.) added 12 points and junior center DeNesha Stallworth (Richmond, Calif.) recorded her second straight double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds in just 26 minutes of action.
Overall this season, Mathies leads UK and ranks second in the league (conference games only) in scoring, averaging 15.2 points per game overall and 18.7 in SEC games. She currently ranks in the top 10 of 12 career lists at UK, including third in steals (282) and fourth in scoring (1,739).

In the front court, Stallworth and junior forward Samarie Walker (West Carrollton, Ohio) are giving Kentucky a dynamic inside presence. The duo combine to average 23.1 points and 14.7 rebounds per game and both are shooting over 50 percent from the floor.

The Cats’ “40 minutes of dread” defense has them leading the nation in turnover margin (+9.9), limiting the opponent to 52.0 ppg (2nd in the SEC), 37.3 percent shooting (7th in the SEC), including 27.8 percent from beyond the arc (6th in the SEC), and averaging 12.2 steals (4th in the SEC) and 5.1 blocks per game (T-2nd in the SEC).
LSU, which is coming off a bye week, is 12-7 overall, 3-3 in SEC play after a win over Vanderbilt last Sunday at home, 54-51.

Overall, 6-foot-5 junior center Theresa Plaisance leads the Tigers in almost every statistical category, including scoring (18.3), rebounding (7.9), field goal percentage (.463) and blocks (2.9). She ranks second in the SEC in scoring and eighth nationally in blocks per game.

Three other players average in double-figure scoring - freshman guard Danielle Ballard (13.4), senior guard Adrienne Webb (13.4) and senior guard Bianca Lutley (10.7).

Nikki Caldwell is in her second season as head coach of the Lady Tigers. Caldwell reached the 100-win mark for her career on Dec. 13 against ETSU. Prior to LSU, Caldwell served as the head coach at UCLA.
“They’re athletic, they have some good athletes, they have some good skill players, too,” Mitchell said. “They are well balanced and can score a lot and are capable of putting points on the scoreboard. I think they’re a really good SEC team with good athletes, good players, very well-coached so it will be another tough one Sunday afternoon in Memorial Coliseum.”

Sunday will mark the 41st meeting between the teams. LSU leads the all-time series 30-10, including a 10-4 advantage when playing in Lexington. The Wildcats are looking to snap a two-game losing skid to the Tigers and chart their first win at home over LSU since Feb. 13, 2011.

UK fell in both meetings against the Tigers last season, falling 61-51 in Baton Rouge and 72-61 in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament.
Five of the last seven matchups with LSU have been decided by 10 points or less. UK went 3-2 in those games.

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