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Cats Open New Year with Mississippi Valley State Friday

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky women’s basketball team plays host to Mississippi Valley State Friday, Jan. 1 in the first game in 2010 and the final regular-season non-conference game for the Wildcats. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. EST and all the action can be heard live on the Big Blue Sports Radio Network with Neil Price.

Single-game general admission tickets are available for $5 adults/$2 senior citizens and children 6-18. Ages five and under are admitted free. UK students, faculty and staff also are admitted free with valid identification based on availability. For further ticket information, log on to UKathletics.com or call the UK ticket office at 859-257-1818 or 1-800-928-CATS (2287).

Game day parking is available in the “E” lots surrounding Memorial Coliseum, including the Martin Luther King Parking Lot and the Student Center Parking Lot. Due to the holiday break, “R” lot north of the Joe Crafter Center also will be open. Because of construction around the area, the Lexington Avenue entrance to the R1 lot will be closed. Fans may enter through the Rose Street side. Also, due to the holiday season, Parking Structure #5 will be closed for this game and there will not be a shuttle bus to the Coliseum.

“It is good to be back in Memorial Coliseum and get another opportunity to play a game against an opponent that has played one of the toughest schedules of anybody that I have seen,” UK Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “They have really played a tough schedule and traveled all over the country to play quality teams. We need to be ready for a deep and athletic team that certainly will not be intimidated to come in here because of the quality opponents that they have played up to this point. It is our last opportunity in the non-conference to try to build some momentum as we head into SEC play next week. This is an important game for us.”

The Wildcats finished the 2009 portion of their schedule with an impressive 11-1 record. The Cats’ 11-0 start was a school record and the 11-game win streak equals the longest win streak in school history. The Wildcats are undefeated at home this season (8-0) and have won nine consecutive games in Memorial and 13 consecutive non-conference games.

The key behind the great start has been the Cats’ defensive prowess. UK is one of the nation’s leaders in turnover margin (+9.8), having forced 20 or turnovers in 10 of 12 games, including nine in a row.

The Cats also are turning their defense into scoring opportunities as they rank fifth nationally in scoring offense, averaging 81.2 points per game. UK is outscoring its opponent by a +26.3 margin which ranks second nationally. All 11 of UK’s wins have been by double digits, including five by 30 or more.

UK looks to get back on the winning track after suffering its first loss of the season (57-51) at Middle Tennessee on Monday.

“I thought that we had some good practice sessions since returning from the Middle Tennessee,” Mitchell said. “That is one thing that we wanted to do, is to come back and get to work. The players’ attitudes were good and I was pleased with that. We had a couple of good sessions yesterday of tough work and things that will help us get better. We certainly learned some things at Middle Tennessee that we can use to get better.”

Junior forward Victoria Dunlap (Nashville, Tenn.) leads the team in almost every statistical category, averaging a double-double with 19.0 points (4th in the SEC) and 10.5 rebounds (2nd in the SEC) per game. She is the league’s leader in steals with 4.0 per game and ranks second in blocks with 2.6 per game.

MVSU, located in Itta Bena, Miss., enters Friday's game after falling to UT Martin (69-67) in the consolation round of the Georgia State Invitational on Wednesday. The Devilettes are 3-7 overall and searching for their first win away from home (0-7).

Sophomore guard Ka'Neshia Smith is MVSU’s leading scorer and rebounder, averaging 10.6 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Senior guard Ashley Brown follows in both categories with 9.5 points and 4.5 caroms a game.

This is the second all-time meeting between Kentucky and Mississippi Valley State. UK leads the series 1-0 after taking an 84-37 win in Memorial Coliseum in 2006. The Cats are 5-0 all-time against teams from the Devilette’s Southwest Athletic Conference.


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