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UK Hoops and other sports coverage
By Drew Franklin on ©December 16th, 2014 @ 12:00pm
Someone who might be looking for a new job today tweeted this photo of a young Matthew Mitchell from the UK Hoops Twitter account, wishing Coach Mitchell a Happy Birthday. He’s showing off those rock hard abs, representing the Louisville Wildcats, and airing it out in the thigh region. I think we found his outfit for Big Blue Madness next year.
Before you freak out over the Louisville shirt, it’s Louisville High School in Mississippi. Mitchell was a star for the Wildcats back in the day.
Some unfortunate news for UK Hoops: senior Bria Goss is out 4-6 weeks with a broken thumb. Goss sustained the injury during shoot around on Sunday before the girls’ game against Belmont, and was only able to play three minutes before coming out. Goss has never missed a game during her career as a Cat, and is currently averaging 7.4 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.
Fortunately, there are plenty of Cats ready to step into Bria’s shoes, including Alexis Jennings, who was named SEC Freshman of the Week earlier today. Last week, she averaged 10.5 points and 6.0 rebounds off the bench in helping the women improve to 10-1 on the season.
Get well soon, Bria, and keep it up, Alexis.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 15th, 2014 @ 11:15am
UK’s men’s and women’s basketball programs are rolling right now, with 11-0 and 10-1 records respectively. In fact, at one point this weekend, both programs were #1 in the RPI basketball rankings, which is pretty rare and awesome.
After Sunday’s games, the ladies are back down to #3 in the RPI, but if they keep up their strong play, it’s only a matter of time before both teams are back on top.
By Wilder Treadway on ©December 14th, 2014 @ 8:55pm
In a game probably closer than expected, the 8th ranked Wildcats pulled away late to defeat the energetic Belmont Bruins tonight 71-55. Kentucky moves to 10-1 on the year, with just two more non-conference games left before the brutal stretch of SEC play awaits. Senior Azia Bishop responded well to starting the game on the bench, leading the team in scoring and rebounding, and notching her 5th career double-double with 15 and 12 apiece. She also chipped in with four blocks and three steals, so she was the all-around energy woman for UK.
Playing against a 2-6 team who lost by 60 points to Louisville, winning by 16 wasn’t necessarily what anyone, including me, expected, but Belmont came out firing and unafraid. The Cats seemed out of sorts on offense, not sure of who they wanted to give the ball to and when, and while they cleaned up their turnover miscues from last game with only 11, they only shot 41% for the game. The Bruins were able to break the fast court with their slinky, smaller guards and drive the to basket successfully against the Kentucky press.
Coach Cameron Newbauer from Belmont gained a few fans in Kentucky tonight as he brought in a team that was well coached and ready to play against the heavily-favored Wildcats. Still in his first coaching gig (after assistant coaching jobs at Louisville and Georgia), he was excited for the post-game press conference saying “I’ve only done like three of these.” He was also very complimentary of UK, calling them “arguably the most athletic team in the country from top to bottom,” and adding “what they do best, is they play to their strengths. They can come back from any score, because they can change the game in a matter of minutes.”
Kentucky is off this week for finals, but they return to action next Sunday in a nationally televised contest on the road in Durham against the 13th ranked Duke Blue Devils. Until then…
UK’s cheerleaders are in a class of their own, and the fine folks at RuppTV put together this cool feature on UK Cheerleading, which includes slips of the squads performing at games and footage from Big Blue Madness.
They also put a GoPro camera on one of the cheerleaders so fans could see what it’s like to fly through the air on all of their complicated tosses. Spoiler alert: it looks terrifying. I have a whole new appreciation for those guys and gals.
After a tough win over Middle Tennessee State on Friday night, the 8th ranked Kentucky women are back in action this evening against the Belmont Bruins in Memorial Coliseum. Tonight’s game is on the SEC Network, so take a break from watching Jim Harbaugh yell at the 49ers and check out the Cats. UK is 9-1 on the year looking for their sixth straight win in one of just a few more non-conference tuneups before SEC play begins in January. Mitchell switched up the starting lineup for the first time all season on Friday, and it helped Kentucky get off to a quicker start than they have in most games this season. Look for Mitchell to keep the pedal to the metal and push the pace against the Bruins tonight.
Belmont enters tonight’s game with a record of 2-6 under second year head coach Cameron Newbauer. Newbauer served as assistant for Louisville coach Jeff Walz and Georgia coach Andy Landers prior to arriving in Nashville, so he’s familiar with Coach Mitchell and his style of play. The Bruins lone wins on the season came against Denver and Lipscomb, while they have notably lost to Louisville and Vanderbilt earlier this year. BU also features Lexington native from Lexington Christian Academy, Katelin Bundy.
#8 Kentucky Wildcats vs. Belmont Bruins
FINAL KENTUCKY 71 BELMONT 55 It wasn’t always pretty, but it was surely entertaining. The Cats get their 10th win of the season tonight against a very well coached Belmont Bruin team who was motivated and energized out of their minds tonight. Azia Bishop had a monster, all-around performance for UK tonight, finishing with 15 points, 12 rebounds, four blocks and three steals. Kentucky will get a full week of practice this week before traveling to Durham, NC next Sunday to take on the 13th ranked Duke Blue Devils.
2nd Half 3:28: Freshman Alexis Jennings has her second straight double-digit scoring game tonight with 10 points, eight of them coming in the second half as Kentucky has made a more concerted effort to get into the post. The Cats built a 15 point lead, their largest of the game, but Belmont ya know…doesn’t quit playing. They sure don’t look like a 2-6 team at all and will likely be a factor in the OVC this season. Cats looking for one final push, leading 63-52.
2nd Half 6:59: Kentucky looks a little more settled on offense, finally establishing the post and using Alexis Jennings and Alyssa Rice to make some impressive moves down low. Belmont (like always) continues to drive the basketball however, and Kentucky hasn’t been able to stop them that well today at all. Bishop is nearing her career high with 15 points, while sophomore Linnae Harper has been a nice source of energy tonight with 12 points and seven rebounds. Cats lead 56-45.
2nd Half 11:50: I think somehow Coach Mitchell’s frustration with today’s game is being transmitted over to me on press row because I know have a splitting headache…in terms of the game, the Cats are now on a 7-0 run after the Bruins trimmed the lead down to just three points, capped off by another 3-pointer for Kyvin Goodin-Rogers. Confused as to where Jennifer O’Neill has been tonight? Yeah, me too. The leading scorer for the Wildcats has yet to record a point, and has spent a lot of time on the UK bench. Kentucky trying to pull away, up 48-38.
2nd Half 15:55: Well, the game’s still goin’ and we’re still looking for that big Kentucky run…Belmont has kept up that same energy seen in both their players and their coach, and they just refuse to back down. Kentucky looks a little out of sorts on offense, unsure of who they want to give the ball to and when, and the Bruins have taken advantage. In terms of Kentucky games, tonight has been fairly clean, with UK only forcing 10 miscues from BU and giving the ball away seven times themselves. Kentucky hanging on 39-34.
HALFTIME KENTUCKY 34 BELMONT 27 It wasn’t necessarily a score Mitchell is happy with at halftime, but I have to say it was a very entertaining half of basketball. Both teams were scrambling all over the court and leaping for rebounds, so the hustle is there, but the execution was lacking a bit. Senior Azia Bishop led the Cats with 10 points and looked as good as I’ve seen her all season. Look for Kentucky to come out with a big run in the second half (I hope), but don’t be surprised to see Belmont fight the entire 40 minutes.
1st Half 3:55: Kentucky has left a lot to be desired so far in this game, that’s for sure, but senior Azia Bishop has stepped up after not getting the starting nod for the second game in a row. She currently leads the Cats in scoring with 10 points and is using a finesse and tough usually uncommon for her. Mitchell has to be pleased with her response to starting the game on the bench, but he still looks to be uncharacteristically in agony on the sideline with UK’s play in this first half of action. Bishop just ran the length of the court to save a ball for Kentucky, and I have to say: she’s killin’ it. Cats still looking for that big run however, only winning 26-20.
1st Half 7:57: Mitchell just clutched his head in his hands, and that about sums up the first half for Kentucky so far. UK’s head man is clearly displeased with the execution from the Cats, and they’re letting the under-talented Belmont hang around longer than he would like. The Bruins aren’t afraid to take the ball to the rim with aggression, while Kentucky has spent too much time dancing around the perimeter without accomplishing anything. The Bruins are also out-rebounding UK 13-10 on pure effort alone. Kentucky still leading 20-16.
1st Half 9:40: Gotta hand it to Belmont, they’re fun to watch just because you can tell they love the game of basketball and they love the opportunity to knock off a top-1o opponent on their home floor. Coach Newbauer surely has Kentucky well scouted from his time at both Georgia and Louisville, and while Kentucky has had a few bright spots on offense, the Bruins are not backing away. Azia Bishop has looked good inside, as she should against the smaller and less talented post-players from BU. Makayla Epps has also had a few pretty moves, but is trigger happy from the 3-point line so far. Kentucky looking for some more balance and consistency but the Cats lead 16-14.
1st Half 15:51: Not the start Kentucky wanted tonight. Belmont has come out with fire and energy, and while they aren’t necessarily executing all of their plays, they have had enough spunk so far to keep this game competitive in the first four minutes. Mitchell quickly subbed in his starting five for a whole different five players less than two minutes into the game, clearly unhappy with the energy his Cats brought to the floor early. Freshman shooting guard Jaycee Coe was one of the new entries into the game, marking the quickest entry into a game she’s had all year. Kentucky leads 5-4.
TIPOFF: In a #KSRFashion update, Kentucky assistant coach Tamika Williams is sporting a pair of bright, metallic gold heels for the game tonight, and I’m a fan. A pretty decent sized crowd has filed into Memorial so far, which I’m sure Mitchell is happy with. In other news: I have wondered all year where another UK assistant coach, Christian Stefanopoulos has been. She hasn’t been on the bench for any games this season, and she isn’t announced on the PA at the start of the game. I’m gonna have to investigate…Bruins win the tip, and off we go.
10 Minutes till Tip: So far it’s a sleepy, late arriving crowd to Memorial tonight. A Sunday night is a tough slot for a game (especially in the winter), but if you didn’t make the trip out tonight make sure to tune in on the SEC Network. The cheerleaders are practicing behind me, peppy as usual, but Hayley isn’t here tonight to laugh with me. I’m expecting a throttling of Belmont tonight, a team that can’t simulate the talent in any position on the court that the Cats have.
By Aaron Perkins on ©December 13th, 2014 @ 3:26pm
The Kentucky Track and Field team’s started their 2014-2015 campaign Friday at the Hoosier Open in Bloomington, Indiana. Four Wildcats were able to win their events:
- Sha’Keela Saunders won the long jump with a personal record 5.5-inch.
- Leah Nugent ran an impressive time of 7.29 to win the 60m hurdles.
- Dezerea Bryant won the 300m with a time of 37.60. Her teammate Kendra Harrison finished 2nd.
- Making her Kentucky debut, transfer Javianne Oliver won the 60m dash with a time of 7.45
Kentucky has started the season well, but will look to build off their early success when they host the Kentucky Invitational on January 16-17th.
In arguably the most consistent, full-game effort we’ve seen all season, the 8th ranked Kentucky Wildcats (9-1) dominated the visiting and feisty Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders 78-62. Senior Jennifer O’Neill led UK offensively with 22 points (18 in the second half), while Makayla Epps and freshman Alexis Rice contributed 12 and 11 apiece.
“Really happy that our players came out with great energy, we practiced hard this week. We’re still a work in progress and we have some things we need to get better at, but we had some good hustle and beat a good MTSU team tonight,” said Coach Mitchell.
Coach Mitchell switched up the starting lineup for the first time this season in an effort to jump-start his team and avoid early deficits that have plagued Kentucky in many games so far. Freshman Alyssa Rice picked up her first starting nod, replacing senior Azia Bishop, and in terms of results: it seemed to work. The Cats came out more energized and physical, and while they were sloppy at times (finished with a season-high 28 turnovers), their effort, talent and height got the best of MTSU in the long-run. our hustle and our depth was a big factor in the game, and we needed to make it that way.”
It was a homecoming of sorts for former UK assistant of five years Shalon Pillow, in her first season at MTSU after Mitchell opted to not renew her contract this offseason. She was welcomed back graciously to Lexington, visiting with old friends before and after the game, as well as a long embrace with Coach Mitchell. Hayley and I even got a hello wave.
Tonight was Coach Mitchell’s 100th win in Memorial Coliseum, and in eight seasons at the helm in Kentucky he has compiled a 100-16 record at home. “There was a time when I never knew if we would ever win 100 games total here at Kentucky. I’m grateful, really grateful. Blessed to be coaching at Kentucky and I hope we can win 100 more here,” said Mitchell.
MTSU was no slouch, and once the game got to around a 20-point margin, the Blue Raiders didn’t just go away. Coach Rick Insell has instilled a competitive atmosphere in Murfreesboro, and MTSu will most likely make yet another appearance in the NCAA Tournament this March. They have won 20+ games the past nine seasons, and while Coach Insell wasn’t pleased with the loss he was happy with the way his team fought the entire 40 minutes despite the deficit.
Kentucky has a quick turnaround, returning to Memorial Sunday evening to take on the Belmont Bruins at 6. See you there!
Welcome back Cats fans, for another edition of a UK Hoops Live Diary with Wilder and Hayley. After a big comeback win on the road against in-state rival Louisville, the Wildcats are back at home in Memorial Coliseum tonight to face the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders on the SEC Network. Kentucky soared to 8th in the rankings this week, with an 8-1 record, while the Blue Raiders are 4-2 and currently on a three game winning streak. MTSU has notably defeated Miami, Clemson, Xavier, and Ole Miss this season, while falling to Arkansas and Arizona State. The Blue Raiders are a mainstay in women’s college basketball, almost yearly winners of their conference and in the NCAA Tournament on a regular basis.
Shalon Pillow is back in Lexington tonight. Pillow spent the fast five seasons in Kentucky as an assistant coach, but after Mitchell chose to not renew her contract, she took her talents to MTSU, now working under Rick Insell, the father of another former UK assistant and current Ole Miss coach, Matt Insell. Weird coaching circle, right?
#8 Kentucky Wildcats vs. Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders
FINAL: A good team win for the Hoops tonight!!! Scoring efforts were led by Jennifer O’Neill, who finished with 22 points, and only had four points at halftime. This game was certainly the fastest-paced, and finished promptly two hours after tip off. Stay tuned for more from Wilder Treadway, coming soon.
2nd Half 4:38- Hayley: Kentucky is continuing to offensively dominate, but MTSU has also turned up the intensity and is not going down without a fight. This game is the prime example of why I am glad that Coach Mitchell continues to push even when he can get up on a team by 20 points. MTSU Has fought back this whole game, and all it would take is a little run for this team to completely take over the game. The Blue Raiders are continuing to chip away at the Wildcats lead, but every time it gets down to about 14-16 points, the Cats go on a run. UK is up 72-52.
2nd Half 11:28 -Hayley: Things have #TurnedUp since we last talked, live diary. The offensive has shot out and quickly run up some score. Tonight has thrown us another plot twist. While looking at the MTSU bench, Wilder made the connection that one of the assistant coaches is none other than Tom Hodges… Remember him? He’s the ex-Morehead State coach who wore the crazy suit last year! This game has quickly turned into a bizarre “UK/ KSR favorites” family reunion. I would love to have some sort of post game sit down, “Real Housewives” style, where all the dirty laundry from these folks is aired… if there is any. Kentucky is winning the rebound efforts, 33-22, and is up on the scoreboard 58-36.
2nd Half 15:40-Hayley: With the second half fully underway, it is clear that the Hoops made some small adjustments at halftime. Their energy is higher, and their aggression, as a team, is much higher, but the defense is also playing at a higher level. Scoring, thus far, has been low, while foul shooting opportunities have been bountiful. Jennings is leading the team with 11 points, while Epps is trailing closely with 10 points. Jennings is also leading the defensive efforts with six boards. Hoops are up 49-30.
HALFTIME KENTUCKY 41 MIDDLE TENNESSEE 26 This was offensively one of the best halves of basketball Kentucky has played all season. The turnovers were a little high, but that was mainly due to the fast-paced nature of the game Kentucky plays. Eight Wildcats scored at two points, and UK was surprisingly led by freshman Alexis Jennings with 11, in her best game of the season. The Cats dominated the glass 26-12, another stat directly reflected by the effort and hustle of UK, which Mitchell is surely pleased with.
1st Half 3:55: In my opinion, Coach Mitchell should never take Makayla Epps out of the game. Her energy and finesse are something that always pump up the team, but until her defense consistently improves she won’t get a starting not. The (super) sophomore leads the Cats in scoring so far tonight with eight, on 4-4 shooting, and I guarantee you won’t find a happier player on the court, ever. MTSU not backing down, have crawled back to only be down seven, at 32-25.
1st Half 6:34: Solid basketball game so far. Kentucky has succeeded in avoiding that plaguing slow-start that Mitchell was afraid of, and I think Hayley and I are slowly watching this young post for the Cats grow up each possession down the floor. Alexis Jennings and Alyssa Rice have been called on a lot this season to man the post, and while Kentucky’s play in the paint has been suspect in some games, the physicality down low is something to be proud of. The Cats are firing on all cylinders and Kentucky has built a lead, up on the Blue Raiders 31-17.
1st Half 11:18: After not getting the start for the first time this season, senior Azia Bishop seems angry and out to prove a point. On back-to-back possessions she took a charge (something Mitchell jokingly says she’ll never do) and made a stellar move in the paint for a pretty jump hook. As we knew they wouldn’t, MTSU has not backed off at all tonight, matching Kentucky punch for punch. Game still knotted at 16 apiece. Six different Cats have scored so far.
1st Half 15:46: Quick, fast-paced start to tonight’s game so far. There have already been nine turnovers (five from Kentucky) and both teams are racing down on offense, but we haven’t seen the best efficiency. Point guard Jennifer O’Neill is sporting a nice black eye tonight, apparently from practice, getting hit by freshman Jaycee Coe. The Blue Raiders have the toughest schedule in the nation, not scared to play against the nation’s best. With Pillow’s scouting report of UK and MTSU’s competitive nature, tonight should be a good game. Game is tied 7-7.
TIPOFF: Decent crowd on-hand for a late Friday night game (another weird scheduling quirk from this season). Hayley and I have been on Pillow-watch all night to see how the former assistant is interacting with her old school. Her and Mitchell embraced in a loving hug, so that’s good to see. She was a great asset to Kentucky in her time as a Wildcat and will always be welcome in Lexington. Mitchell switched up tonight’s starting lineup for the first time this season, starting freshman Alyssa Rice for the first time in her career over senior Azia Bishop. Raiders win the tip and we’re off…
10 Minutes till Tip: In his press conference yesterday, Coach Mitchell noted the importance for his team to get off to better starts. The Cats have come from behind so far this year in four of their eight wins, and while their grit and motivation has been commendable while facing an uphill battle, the Cats need to put themselves in better positions earlier on. Look for a possible starting lineup tonight from Mitchell, as he’s anxious to kickstart the Wildcats right from the tipoff.
Matthew Mitchell was, in his words, “tickled to death” about the win over the Cardinals this afternoon. After a disappointing first half in which the Cats fell in a 16 point hole, Mitchell said all had to do with the hustle. “In the first half, everything they got was in transition, off an offensive board, or the free throw line. Those are all things that happen when you get out-hustled.”
The second half the Cats had more energy, with stellar performances from guards Thompson and O’Neill pacing Kentucky back offensively. On defense, Kentucky was more active, which Mitchell knows has to happen for the Cats to succeed. “We have to play like our hair’s on fire all the time. We aren’t gonna out-talent you, but we can disrupt you.”
When asked about Jeff Walz’s “we make it further than you in the tournament” barbs Mitchell was a class-act, simply saying, “I think Louisville has a great program and they’re well coached. I’m happy we got the win today.”
Kentucky improves to 8-1 on the year, while Louisville falls to 8-1.
By Wilder Treadway on ©December 07th, 2014 @ 4:48pm
That’s right, four great years of Kentucky dominance over Louisville in the women’s game. A common theme for the Cats in this rivalry is coming back from the dead to stun the Cards, and Coach Walz said Kentucky wore his team down and his lack of depth showed. “In the second half we kinda just let them go by, it’s not too hard to make an uncontested layup, but it was for us,” said Walz.
It wouldn’t be a Jeff Walz press conference if he didn’t do a little jab at Coach Mitchell though, making sure to say “Matthew does a great job but I’m sure 2 years ago he would have traded a loss [to us] to play in the Final Four.”
Well folks, what a game!!!! Kentucky overcame a 16-point deficit to defeat Louisville 77-68 AT Louisville in the YUM! Center. Janee Thompson lead the scoring with 19, and the five players that scored in double figures were all guards. Shouts and cheers of “GO BIG BLUE” rang out over the disgusting Louisville propaganda, good defeated evil… you know the deal. We’ll have more coming soon for y’all. GO CATS!!!!!!!
It wasn’t the prettiest or cleanest of games, but the 13th ranked Kentucky women’s basketball (7-1) team was able to avoid some costly injuries and take down the Norse of Northern Kentucky 82-64 tonight in Memorial Coliseum. Sophomore Kyvin Goodin-Rogers led the way offensively for the Cats with a career-high 19 points, 10 of which came in the first eight minutes of the game. Senior Bria Goss also had her best offensive performance of the season with 16, joining a group of four Wildcats who scored in double-figures.
“We aren’t sharp right now. Young post players are forgetting where to go, the ball’s not moving. We certainly have a chance to be a really good team. This is just where we are right now,” said Coach Mitchell.
While Coach Mitchell seemed a little frustrated with the execution of his team, he also realizes Kentucky is only eight games into the season and has played a demanding schedule early on. With seven of their first games in a span of 15 days, including a trip to the Virgin Islands, the Cats haven’t gotten a lot of the quality practice time Mitchell has wanted to have and thinks the team needs to perform better. “The challenge with this team is consistency. Hopefully through some dedicated time and practice we can get that corrected,” said Mitchell.
Just 20 seconds into the game Jennifer O’Neill fell to the ground after an attempted rebound, screaming and crying in agony. After being helped off the court by Coach Mitchell and the trainers, she looked noticeably shaken up, but okay. Before the crowd, the team or even myself was able to recover from the scare, 90 seconds later junior Janee Thompson fell to the ground in the backcourt clutching her lower leg, also having to be taken off the court by her coach and trainer. Two minutes in – two injured guards. Luckily for Kentucky both O’Neill and Thompson came back to play just minutes later, but that shaky start for UK held true the whole game as the Cats never seemed to find a consistent groove on either end of the court.
Kentucky shot an abysmal 51.2% from the free throw line tonight including a horrendous 1-8 mark from senior Azia Bishop. “We need to be a better shooting team than that. [Azia] is not prepared, not focused, whatever it is. We sure missed far too many tonight.”
Kentucky Sports Radio’s own Nick Roush had a family connection in tonight’s game, as his twin sisters Christine and Courtney both play basketball for the Norse. Christine tied for a team-high 13 points for NKU, making KSR proud. You go Roush family, you go.
Kentucky returns to action this Sunday afternoon in a highly anticipated contest with the hated and 7th ranked Louisville Cardinals. The game will be played in the KFC Yum! Center at 2, and Hayley and I are making the trip up to the Derby City, so pray we don’t get hit in the head by a bottle of Crown Royal. Until then…
By Wilder Treadway on ©December 03rd, 2014 @ 7:00pm
After a long break away from home, the 13th ranked Kentucky women’s basketball team is back inside the friendly confines of Memorial Coliseum as they take on the Northern Kentucky Norse at 7 tonight on SEC Network +. The Norse are not only one of Kentucky’s in-state rivals, but they also feature a KSR connection. We all know and love our football writer for KSR, Nick Roush, and his twin sisters Christine and Courtney play basketball for the Norse. It’ll be a family affair at home tonight but sorry Roush, gotta cheer for the Cats in this one.
Kentucky is 6-1 on the year coming off of a tough three day Thanksgiving tournament in the Virgin Islands. The Cats came back to win the Paradise Jam “Reef Division” after losing to Illinois 77-71 in the first game. UK defeated Oklahoma in overtime and South Florida by four after their first loss of the season, and Coach Mitchell was pleased about the grit and determination of his squad against probable NCAA-Tournament caliber schools.
#13 Kentucky Wildcats vs. Northern Kentucky Norse
FINAL: KENTUCKY 82 NORTHERN KENTUCKY 64 It definitely wasn’t pretty for most of the game but the Wildcats were able to defeat the Norse tonight at home. After a rough opening two minutes that featured a bevy of injuries, Kentucky never seemed to get their rhythm on either end of the court. KGR had a career night with 19 points and senior Bria Goss had her best game of the season, scoring 16. Roush’s little sister Christine had a team high 13 points for NKU. The 7-1 Cats will head to Louisville on Sunday afternoon for a top 15 rivalry game in the Yum! Bucket and Hayley and I will be live in enemy territory. Wish us luck…
2nd Half 7:57: Wilder- After a monster tournament in the Virgin Islands Makayla Epps is now into double-figures tonight with 10 points, so that’s a good habit to get in for her. Roush’s sister Christine has 11 points for the Norse to lead her team, and NKU continues to compete with the Cats on every possession, something that should make their coach happy. KGR just scored a layup and a foul to extend her career-high to 19 points. Cats running away, up 70-52.
2nd Half 11:18: Hayley-Trying not to cheer for Roush’s sister when she scores is actually kinda hard. I mean, I’m not like full blown “rah rah” cheering, but I do get a little happy for her. Love to see the fam’s fam doing well. Kentucky’s play remains somewhat sloppy, but it has gotten clean enough for them to pull away. This game is packed with things that are really confusing to me. Jennifer O’Neill has only shot the ball THREE times. Linnae Harper and Makayla Epps are the kind of players that genuinely make me happy for the future of this team. Whenever we are lulling or need a little boost, they come out and make something happen. Good looks. UK 63- NKU 44.
2nd Half 15:23: Wilder- The Norse just won’t go away. NKU has cut the lead to five numerous times tonight but Kentucky has gone on an 8-0 run over the past 91 seconds to extend their lead to 14. KGR leads the way with 16 and Bria Goss is close behind with 12. The Cats have forced 20 turnovers tonight, getting back to their defensive ways after only forcing seven in their last game against South Florida. Cats lead 53-39.
HALFTIME: KENTUCKY 45 NORTHERN KENTUCKY 34 Wilder: Very sloppy, ugly and sometimes dangerous first half for Kentucky. Kyvin Goodin-Rogers was just about the only positive offensively for the Cats, scoring a career high 16. Kentucky’s defense was porous and lazy, fouling the Norse and allowing them easy, open looks for shots. Mitchell can’t be pleased with his team’s effort tonight, especially considering UK heads to 7th ranked Louisville on Sunday. Let’s hope for a more polished second half…
1st Half 7:43: Hayley- You know that game Mitchell was hoping his team would play? We’re still looking for it. The team looks sluggish, and honestly uninterested. Their heads and hearts are in another place, for now at least. Mitchell is cross armed and scow faced, and has been since the opening tip. During the time out that just occurred, Coach Mitchell seemed to share some of his displeasures with the team in a rather boisterous way. Luckily for Kentucky, the NKU Norse are playing equally as sloppy. NKU is leading the turnovers 11-9, and the Hoops are up 23-12 where it matters.
1st Half 11:58: Wilder- It’s official both Thompson and O’Neill are back on the court, so for now Kentucky has avoided some devastating/scary injuries. While the health-related chaos took the center stage early on, sophomore Kyvin Goodin-Rogers stole the show on the court, scoring 13 of Kentucky’s first 19 points for a new career high not even halfway into the first 20 minutes. It seems like Kentucky can now settle down and play the game Mitchell was hoping for them to play. Cats lead 19-10.
1st Half 15:20 Wilder: Well, sort of a nightmare start for Kentucky so far. Star point guard Jennifer O’Neill was going up for a rebound within the first 20 seconds of the game and came down hard on her hip. She was on the floor for a while, crying, before Coach Mitchell and the trainer helped her off and she was able to walk on her own. Just a minute and a half later, Janee Thompson went down in the backcourt, clutching her ankle/lower leg before being helped off the court. Two scary moments, and we’re not sure how they’re going to play out as the game goes on, but hopefully O’Neill and Thompson are both okay. On the court, Kentucky seems flustered and not focused (understandably) but they have to find a way to fight off these feisty Norse. Cats lead 13-8.
UPDATE: Jennifer O’Neill has checked back into the game. Thank G.
@WilderTreadKSR & @KSR_allHayl
Can’t get tickets to the Texas game this Friday? That’s okay. You can always head down the street to Memorial Coliseum to support the Volleyball Cats.
Kentucky (26-5, 15-3) will join a 64 team field as the 13th seed after earning an NCAA Tournament bid for a program-record 10th consecutive season. Eight of Kentucky’s opponents this season made the NCAA cut, including four SEC foes. The Cats went 5-5 against the teams in the regular season.
The Cats will make its 16th NCAA appearance in program history. Kentucky is hosting the first and second round of the NCAA Volleyball Tournament this weekend. Three other teams will join the Cats in Lexington.
The first round will take place Friday at 5 p.m. with Lipscomb facing Ohio State. The Cats will follow at 7 p.m. as they take on Oakland. Saturday at 7 p.m. the winner of each of the first two matches will face off with the winner advancing to the Louisville Regional.
Here is a break down of the competition Kentucky will face this weekend:
The Golden Grizzlies went 22-9 (12-2 in conference) leading up to a Horizon League regular season and a tournament championship. More impressively, OU enters the postseason on a 10-match winning streak. Although both UK and Oakland have beat Missouri this season, the Grizzlies did fall to both Xavier and Lipscomb, two teams Kentucky beat.
Early in the season, the Cats took down Lipscomb 3-1. The Bisons went 21-8 this season and claimed the Atlantic Sun regular season title. In the league tournament, Lipscomb fell 3-1 in the finals to Jacksonville. UK is 3-0 overall vs. the Bisons, winning each of the past three seasons.
Perhaps Kentucky’s biggest opponent this season, Ohio State enters the postseason with a 21-11 record, including a 12-8 mark in the Big Ten where they finished fifth in conference. Among common opponents, OSU defeated Auburn and Xavier. Historically, OSU owns the record against the Cats with a 6-5 all time record, but the Cats have won both of the last two matches in 2010 and 2012.
Tickets are on sale now and you can get them here at a great price. Make sure to make the trip and show the girls support as they start their fight to Regionals.