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No. 6 UK Hoops puts winning streak on the line at Missouri

LEXINGTON, Ky. – After winning its school-record 31st straight home game on Thursday, the sixth-ranked Kentucky women’s basketball team will put its school-record 14-game winning streak on the line when it travels to Missouri for the first matchup between the teams in Columbia, Mo., on Sunday, Jan. 13 at 1:30 p.m. EST. The game will be televised live on ESPNU and carried on the UK IMG Sports Radio Network and ESPNWatch.com.

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

The Wildcats (15-1) are 3-0 to start Southeastern Conference play for the second straight season after a thrilling 65-62 win over No. 20/21 Texas A&M on Thursday in Memorial Coliseum. UK rallied from a six-point half time deficit using its tenacious defense and the hot shooting of reigning SEC Player of the Year A’dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky,.) and redshirt sophomore point guard Jennifer O’Neill (Bronx, N.Y.). Mathies, a candidate for all of the major awards for the nation’s best player, hit three of her four 3-pointers in the second half for 11 of her season-high 23 points. O’Neill added 15 points on 3-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc and dished out a career-high eight assists. Junior center DeNesha Stallworth (Richmond, Calif.) contributed 12 points, junior forward Samarie Walker (West Carrollton, Ohio) grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds and sophomore guard Bria Goss (Indianapolis) had seven points. After shooting a blistering 58.6 percent in the first half, UK held the Aggies to 25 points and 32.3 percent shooting in the final stanza. The Cats also scored 17 points off 21 forced turnovers.

“We are on the road this Sunday in a very tough environment,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “Missouri is undefeated at home this year and anytime you have the capability to make 3s the way Missouri can, they are a very dangerous team. These Sunday road games are tough, especially after a tough, tough game on Thursday night. The players will have to stay tremendously focused, take in our information for the scouting report and be ready to play a tough Missouri team, so a big challenge awaits us on Sunday.”

Missouri is 12-5 overall, 2-1 in SEC play and looking to rebound after an 84-39 loss at No. 9/9 Tennessee on Thursday. The Tigers are dangerous offensively as they lead the country in 3-pointers made per game, averaging 9.9. Mizzou has made at least 13 3-pointers in six games this season, including a school- and SEC-record 18 treys vs. Auburn in its SEC home opener. Sophomore guard Morgan Eye is the key catalyst in the impressive long-range shooting as she currently leads the nation in 3-pointers made per game with 4.1. She also ranks No. 11 nationally in 3-point shooting percentage, hitting .455 percent.

Like Kentucky, Missouri is undefeated at home this season with a perfect 11-0 record. The Tigers are 86-52 in eight seasons in the Mizzou Arena.

The Wildcats’ “40 minutes of dread” defense has them leading the nation in turnover margin (+10.3), limiting the opponent to 36.8 percent shooting, including 28.4 percent from beyond the arc, averaging 12.1 steals and 5.4 blocks per game.

Overall, Mathies lead the team in scoring, averaging 14.6 points per game. She also has a team-high 37 assists and 33 treys. She currently ranks in the top 10 of 12 career lists at UK, including No. 4 in scoring (1,645) and tied for third in steals (278). Walker and Stallworth lead the way on the boards, averaging 8.6 and 6.2 rebounds per game, respectively.

This is the third all-time meeting between Kentucky and Missouri, the first since 2000. The series is tied at 1-1 as UK won the first matchup 102-84 in Lexington on Nov. 25, 1989 and fell to the Tigers 86-51 on Nov. 25, 2000 in the first round of the Pepperdine Classic in Malibu, Calif.

Sunday begins “We Back Pat” week in the SEC. During the week of January 13-20, SEC member institutions will support the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund during their home basketball games. During the week, various efforts will be made to increase awareness of the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund. UK’s “We Back Pat” game is Jan. 20 vs. Auburn.

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