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women's stats 11/11

Quick Hitters from Tonight’s UK Hoops Win

Via @KentuckyWBB Twitter

Good Sunday night friends! Are we all still sad about yesterday? Yes? Cool, me too. How about reading about a winning game?

After a thrilling 52 point victory against Alabama State Wednesday, UK Hoops’ journey continued tonight with a 91-41 50 point victory over Southern University. Since I couldn’t be at the game due to some lovely winter sickness, I became an armchair reporter and watched the game from home to write tonight (I’m devoted, I know).

Here are a few quick observations via my couch about tonight’s game:

This is the Program’s 800th Win

Now, let’s get 801, 802, 803…..

Rhyne Howard is a shooter

The freshman from Tennesee may be one of Mitchell’s best players, and it’s only her second game.

In the first half, Howard was hot on the 3, making four of six and scoring 16 of the Cats 50 points in the first half. At one point she had as many points as the Southern team. Howard finished with 29 points, four rebounds and four assists.

She good y’all, she real good.

We force the turnovers…and it works for us.

Like on Wednesday, we really forced Southern to turn the ball over. 29 times to be exact. Out of those 29, we scored 41 points on them…the total amount of points they scored. Ouch. That’s gotta sting.

On Wednesday in the post-game press conference, Taylor Murray said she thought the defense was “sluggish” at first, tonight that was not the case. You can tell Mitchell worked on defense this week in practice and it paid off.

Overall, we stacked up really well on the boards. See for yourselves:

 

This team is fun

You can see it on the court and on Matthew Mitchell’s face. This team is having FUN together. It’s only been two games but it already feels different than last year, I’d say we’re in for a good season.

KeKe McKinney tweeted this out earlier today, you know it’s a good team when this happens.

As someone who covered and sat through the brutality of last season, I for one am LOVING the start to this season. Seriously, now is the time to get on this train!

 

UK Hoops takes on the University of Virginia on Thursday at 8:30 in Memorial. At the game, Coach Mitchell plans on paying one student’s spring tuition, so students: GET IN THERE. Come on out and support this team! Go Cats!

 

@savannahpattKSR 


UK Hoops Coasts to Victory in Season Opener

Via @KentuckyWBB

UK Hoops kicked off their season tonight with an 87-35 victory over Alabama State. Yup, the Cats won by 52 points (#Catsby50).  The Cats and Matthew Mitchell came out fighting and set a hopeful and fun tone for the season.

The first quarter started out slow, well, for everyone except Taylor Murray who scored six points almost instantly. At the end of the first UK Hoops only lead by one point, but then the second quarter started. The Cats went from a 15-14 lead to a 39-22 lead in just one quarter. Talk about playing fast. Maci Morris had back to back three’s, Taylor Murray kept shooting and fouls and turnovers went our way. Murray finished the half with 12 points, Morris with eight.

“That second quarter was really big for us, just to get in there and impose our will on ASU,” said Matthew Mitchell. “We all worked together in the second quarter.”

The second half was an absolute bloodbath, I’ll resist the urge to compare it to a similar (more painful) event that happened last night, but I think you get the gist. UK Hoops played really fast with freshmen Rhyne Howard and Blair Green making the impact. The pair went a combined 11-0 run in the third, extending the lead to the 20’s and eventually the 30’s. Starting the fourth with a comfy 64-30 lead, and it escalated from there, to FIFTY-TWO-FREAKIN-POINTS.

“It’s a good step for us just to get out there and say ‘that’s our style of play’ and let everyone know,” said Mitchell.

Freshman Rhyne Howard went off scoring a whopping 15 points, most of which came in the fourth. Blair Green finished with 13, making the tow of them the first and second highest scoring freshmen in program history. Taylor Murray finished with 16 points and six steals, and Maci with 11.

“She’s very quick…I kind of look up to her,” said Howard on Taylor Murray.

Howard also said that she foresees a lot of three-pointers in future games. She went 3 of 6 tonight.

My biggest takeaway from the season opener? We can score, and we can play fast. But, we will struggle against a team who’s bigger than us. ASU is small and we defended them easily. We outrebounded them and scored off their turnovers. We gained 51 of our points off turnovers, and most impressively, outrebounded them 43-35 and for offensive rebounds 24-9.

But, we struggled in the post a bit. Against bigger teams, this is going to be a problem, but hey – tonight I’m all about the positivity. We really did play well, I’m just looking ahead to powerhouse teams like Mississippi State who we can’t hold to 30 points.

“There may be a night or two where it doesn’t look very good, but we just have to be committed. We have the athleticism and potential,” said Mitchell.

Mitchell said he hopes that the team keeps working on fundamentals and “playing strong.”

All in all, it looks like it’s going to be a great season for UK Hoops and I for one am excited to cover them on this great website for the third year in a row. I hope you’ll come out to some games and watch with me.

UK Hoops plays Southern University this Sunday at 7 PM here in Memorial. Come on out!

 

@savannahpattKSR

 


Wenyen Gabriel’s sister has an offer from UK

(Photo: Twitter/@WenyenGabriel)

Wenyen Gabriel’s younger sister, Piath Gabriel, has been offered a scholarship to play basketball at the University of Kentucky.

Big brother announced the news on Twitter last night:

Gabriel is a 6-5 forward out of New Hampshire, ranked 60th overall and No. 16 at her position in the ESPN rankings.

She also holds offers from Boston College, Illinois, Virginia Tech, Marquette and Louisville, among others.

Will a second Gabriel play for Kentucky?


Takeaways From UK Hoops Exhibition Win

Takeaways From UK Hoops Exhibition Win

(Photo via Twitter/@KentuckyWBB)

The Kentucky women’s basketball team routed Lincoln Memorial University in their only exhibition game of the season by a score of 101-64.

While it was only a preseason game, there were still a couple significant takeaways that we can look at as the team heads into the new season. Take a look at the highlights before we get rolling.

Most notably, the full court press was dominate. Kentucky executed a hard press for nearly the entire game and disrupted any type of offensive rhythm LMU tried to establish. The result was 31 total turnovers for LMU – more than double their total number of assists (15) – and it turned into 41 points for Kentucky.

“I do not care who you are playing,” said head coach Matthew Mitchell. “to force 31 turnovers in 40 minutes is impressive and the type of effort that we have to have this year.”

The length of Kentucky on the perimeter is going to be a problem for opposing offenses as they can quickly fill holes and intercept passes. The Cats are long enough to employ a zone defense and it was rather effective when Coach Mitchell threw it into the defensive scheme throughout the course of the game and it’s something he wants to continue working on as the season progresses.

“We need our zone to be really disruptive, it’s going to be an attacking zone and so we were able to zone press back into a zone half-court,” said Mitchell. “our length really helps us there.”

The press is going to be the backbone of this Kentucky team. Being able to go an entire season against top-tier competition will be a challenge and the team understands that it’s going to take plenty of hard work and conditioning to keep it up all year.

“We’re gonna have to be able to press like that the whole game in order to be successful,” said senior guard Maci Morris.

The other notable takeaway was the impressive shooting confidence from the freshmen, Blair Green and Rhyne Howard.

Green scored 17 points on 8-17 shooting while Howard added 16 points on 5-13 shooting. They came out of the gate firing and never got discouraged even if their shots weren’t falling initially.

“Coach has complete confidence in us,” said Green. “and we have the green light to take any shot we feel we can make.”

The jitters of playing in their first official game at Memorial Coliseum didn’t seem to phase the two fresh faces. The team had a combined 26 assists to only seven turnovers.

“I think playing in Italy helped us a lot and having the scrimmage helped a lot,” said Green. “so we’re kinda bonded now.”

The regular season officially kicks off on Nov. 7 when the Cats take on Alabama State at home.

When asked their predictions for Saturday’s Georgia-Kentucky football game, both Morris and coach Mitchell believe in a 28-21 victory for the Cats.


Follow me on Twitter: @ZackGeoghegan


(Photo via Twitter/@KentuckyWBB)

UK Hoops Wins Sole Exhibition Against LMU 101-64

(Photo via Twitter/@KentuckyWBB)

The Kentucky women’s basketball team won their only exhibition of the preseason, defeating the Lincoln Memorial University Railsplitters 101-64, as freshman Blair Green led the way for the Lady Cats with 17 points.

The Cats controlled the game from the opening tip and maintained at least a 20-point lead for the majority of the second half.

Kentucky came out with a hard full-court press, suffocating every LMU ball handler as they came up the court. Kentucky forced 31 LMU turnovers, the majority of them out of the press.

The length of the Wildcats was simply too much for the Division II school out of Tennessee, as they dominated the offensive glass, outrebounding the Railsplitters on that end 24-16.

Seniors Maci Morris and Taylor Murray scored 11 and 14, respectively, as they begin the journey through their final season at Kentucky.

The two freshmen, Green and Rhyne Howard, showed no signs of lacking confidence despite it being their first real-game experience. The two attempted a combined 30 shots for 32 points. Five Kentucky players scored in double-digits.

Kentucky mixed it up on defense at times, switching to zone periodically throughout each quarter to throw out some different looks and take advantage of their length on the perimeter. Kentucky bothered LMU all night with the press and rarely did Kentucky even need to set up their defense before causing a turnover or a quick missed shot.

It was a great opening game for the Cats to establish some confidence coming into the season. They’ve already been tuned up after playing in Italy over the summer, but the wins and losses will start to count next week.

The first regular season game is Nov. 7 against Alabama State at Memorial Coliseum.


Follow me on Twitter: @ZackGeoghegan


Ciara praises Matthew Mitchell’s Big Blue Madness dance

Ciara praises Matthew Mitchell’s Big Blue Madness dance

For this year’s Big Blue Madness, Matthew Mitchell did the “Level Up Challenge,” a dance based on R&B star Ciara’s hit “Level Up.” I’ll totally admit that I had no idea the Level Up Challenge was a thing, but it is and it’s big on the interwebs, and Mitchell’s rendition was so impressive that Ciara herself tweeted about it on Monday, telling her 11 million followers the UK Hoops coach’s moves were “on fire” flame emoji flame emoji flame emoji.

In case you missed it, here’s the video:

At UK Hoops Media Day yesterday, Mitchell was asked about Ciara’s tweet and gave a perfect Matthew Mitchell answer.

“I mean, can you believe that? Could anyone ever believe that Ciara would take note of what had to be the worst rendition of her dance? And I continue to be recognized — I don’t know if that was praise. I think it was. I think fire emojis mean something. I think that was praise. I don’t know that there’s ever been a dancer in the history of dance or someone who attempts dance who’s gotten more positive energy sent to them for poor dancing. I know it boggles everyone’s mind.”

Mitchell admitted he’s grown weary of having to come up with new dances every year.

“We’ve got to think of a good exit strategy because you’ve got to be sick of seeing it. I’m sick of doing it.”

Nice try, Coach. As long as R&B stars are praising your moves, I doubt you’re getting out of it anytime soon.


WATCH: Player Interviews from Women’s Basketball Media Day

WATCH: Player Interviews from Women’s Basketball Media Day

Image via UK Athletics

 

Senior guard Maci Morris

 

Senior guard Taylor Murray

 

(more…)


Sights and Sounds from Women’s Basketball Media Day

Sights and Sounds from Women’s Basketball Media Day

Kentucky’s 2018-19 rendition of women’s basketball media day allowed the public an inside glimpse of what to expect from the Wildcats this upcoming season on Tuesday afternoon at Memorial Coliseum.

“We are excited to kick the season off,” said head coach Matthew Mitchell. “I think this is a special group of people who care a whole lot about each other and are going to look after each other. I am looking forward to getting the season started.”

Mitchell credited last summer’s visit to Italy with providing a head start on the preparation for his 12th year at the helm. Kentucky picked up two wins in three exhibition games last August.

“There were so many great moments we had during the trip … and we certainly had some basketball benefit from it,” Mitchell said. “The greatest benefit for us was their opportunity to come together as a team and help each other out.”

Senior guard Maci Morris, who recorded the highest scoring output of Kentucky’s foreign tour with 24 points on 6-of-8 (.750) shooting from three-point range in an 81-64 win over Marghera Select Team to end the expedition, joins Taylor Murray as the only returning starters to bring back double-digit scoring averages from a season ago. Mitchell looks to lean on the pair for added leadership on the floor.

“(Morris and Murray) have fully invested in their time at Kentucky,” said Mitchell. “They have given a lot on the court, but also been through some turbulent times. They have kind of run the gamut during their time here. For them to really finish off with a special season, I am highly motivated as a coach to help them do that. I know they are motivated to do that as players. I’m looking forward to their senior season. They are going to do great.”

In addition to the experience of Morris, Murray, sophomore KeKe McKinney, and seven role players returning from a unit that produced the first losing record of Mitchell’s storied tenure, Kentucky expects an immediate impact from the prolific freshman duo of Rhyne Howard and Blair Green.

“(Howard) is very talented in really every way you can measure a basketball player,” Mitchell said. “I think she has a chance to be a very good player, and she’s already shown that in the time that she’s practiced with us. … I look forward to a successful career for her. We’re sure glad she came to Kentucky.

“(Green) came in very fit, very focused, and with a real genuine humility,” said Mitchell. “She and Rhyne both, I want to make sure that it’s clear: They have got things they have to learn and do better, and they have got to get lower and more physical, and they have got to get stronger. But, just from an effort standpoint, and an attitude and ‘coachability’ standpoint, I’m really impressed with both of them.”

After addressing the media for over 30 minutes, Mitchell led his team in a full open practice. Check out a short clip of the Wildcats below. Kentucky’s lone exhibition tune-up at Memorial Coliseum will take place Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. ET versus Lincoln Memorial (Tenn.).


UK Hoops’ Dorie Harrison out indefinitely

Some unfortunate news to pass along from the women’s basketball program: sophomore center Dorie Harrison is out indefinitely for personal health reasons.

“Dorie needs to step away from the basketball court to address her personal health. We will give her the time she needs to get healthy and she has our full support. We look forward to her return to the court. We ask everyone to respect her privacy during this time,” Matthew Mitchell said in a release.

Harrison played in 32 games last year, starting eight. She averaged 6.7 points and 3.8 rebounds per game and was named SEC Freshman of the Week twice.

Matthew Mitchell’s squad starts the season with an exhibition vs. Lincoln Memorial on Friday, Nov. 2 at Memorial Coliseum. They’ll host Alabama State for the season opener on Wednesday, Nov. 7.


BBM: What we learned about this year’s Women’s Basketball Team

BBM: What we learned about this year’s Women’s Basketball Team

Last night’s Big Blue Madness was one to remember. But among the dunks, dances and intense video montages was also some basketball. The Kentucky women’s basketball team scrimmaged during the first part of the evening, giving fans their first glimpse into a new season of UK Hoops. Here are three things we learned:

#1 Maci Morris is still a baller

Well, this one almost seems too obvious. The Bell County native stole the show with her walkout/introduction, but the action didn’t stop there: she brought the same energy to the court during the scrimmage. Although the game was short, it’s clear this team revolves around her. At one point, she left the game to check in with Sean Farnham and the SEC Network crew and for some reason, the game just felt like it had lost some of its spark. Morris brings an intangible energy when she’s on the floor, not to mention her impeccable three-point shooting and leadership qualities.

But, it’s not all perfect for the senior Wildcat. According to Matthew Mitchell, she’s had to work hard on her strength conditioning to become more of a “complete” player.

“She wants to be a pro; she wants to play in the WNBA,” Mitchell said during Madness. “We’ve worked hard on her conditioning – she’s worked hard on it – and then her defensive intensity has just taken it up another level. By the time this season is complete, we hope she’s written an awesome final chapter in her Kentucky career and that launches her into what her aspiration is – that’s to be a great pro. I believe she’s going to do that.”

Defense has been a relatively-weak spot for Morris, as well as most of the team excluding point guard Taylor Murray, so it’s promising to hear Mitchell praise her defensive efforts before the season even gets underway.

Morris recorded over 17 points per game last season and shot 47.5 percent from behind-the-arc. She’ll need another huge season to earn the Cats a bid to the NCAA Tournament, but, by the looks of things last night, she should have no problem doing just that.

#2 A tale of two courts

The UK Hoops team has quite a talented backcourt with seniors Morris and Murray plus two highly-touted freshmen guards, Rhyne Howard and Blaire Green, but they’re still looking for some standout players in the front court.

Fans will see a lot of new, relatively-inexperienced players under the basket this season, and it’s very possible some games will be determined by their performances. Last year, Kentucky suffered five losses by single-digit margins, many of them on the road. Improving rebounding and second-change points will be huge for the Cats this season.

Coach Mitchell will look to Dorie Harrison, a sophomore center from Nashville. She played in every game last season, averaging 6.7 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. Tatyana Wyatt, also a sophomore, is also poised for a break-out year. The forward put up numbers similar to Harrison’s last season (6.6 points and 3.5 rebounds), while hitting 32.6 percent from the three-point line. Both players showed improvements last night during Madness, but will need to keep working to become the major contributors this team needs them to be.

#3 Rhyne Howard could be a star

After spending her summer with the USA’s National Team, Rhyne Howard is ready to make an immediate impact in Lexington. ESPN ranked her as the No. 10 guard in the class after a stellar senior season – 22.2 points, 7.7 rebounds, 5.3 steals and 4.1 assists per game while shooting 54 percent from the field. That versatility is something Kentucky looks for in a recruit and, according to Coach Mitchell, it’s something they’re already getting from Howard:

“She definitely can score the ball, but she doesn’t have to score to set other people up. She really does a good job…. She’s big, great length, great athleticism, so she can make plays on the board, on the defensive end,” Mitchell said. “She’s really a complete player, and we’re looking forward to watching her develop. She’s talented right now and she’s someone we’ll rely on.”

Mitchell continued his praise for Howard but also included fellow-freshman and Kentucky-native Blaire Green.

“I’m really excited about the freshmen. They’re talented and they play super hard, they’ve had great attitudes, they’re in great shape,” Mitchell said during the scrimmage. “They’re just really talented, good basketball players. It’s a steep learning curve for freshmen to come in and perform but we think these two are really ready to go.”

Let’s hope so. The Cats’ first game is quickly approaching – they’ll take on Lincoln Memorial University in an Exhibition Game on Friday, Nov. 2. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. inside Memorial Coliseum.


@MaggieDavisKSR


UK Hoops releases complete 2018-19 schedule

UK Hoops releases complete 2018-19 schedule

The SEC Women’s Basketball schedule was finally released today, meaning UK Hoops’ full 2018-19 schedule is now complete.

The non-conference slate features a date with Virginia at Rupp Arena on November 15 and games vs. South Florida, UCLA, and North Carolina in the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam in St. Thomas later that month. The Morehead State game originally scheduled for Thursday, November 29 has been moved to Wednesday, November 28 at Noon ET.

Conference play begins at home vs. Vanderbilt on January 3 before back-to-back road games at Mississippi State and Tennessee. Matthew Mitchell’s squad will play in Rupp again on February 3, when they’ll host the Florida Gators.

Here’s the complete schedule for your viewing pleasure:

And an update on the new, state-of-the-art video board going up in Memorial Coliseum:


Matthew Mitchell and the Cats pick up in-state commit, Cassidy Rowe

Matthew Mitchell and the Cats pick up in-state commit, Cassidy Rowe

While Coach Matthew Mitchell and the rest of the women’s basketball team are competing in Italy, they’ve picked up a commit from right here in the Bluegrass. Cassidy Rowe, a native of Pike County, Kentucky, has just committed to the Cats.

Rowe will be a freshman at Shelby Valley High School in the fall. Even though she’ll be new to school, she won’t be new to the basketball team – she’s already played a key role on the roster. Last year, Rowe averaged 9.9 points and 3.3 rebounds as the starting point guard… as an eighth grader. She’s considered a favorite for Miss Kentucky Basketball 2022.

Coach Mitchell extended a scholarship offer to Rowe less than a month ago. Just days earlier, she suffered a torn ACL during an AAU game in Chicago.

Rowe tweeted about her offer on July 13, saying “I am beyond excited to announce that I just received a scholarship offer from the University of Kentucky!! I want to thank the UK coaching staff for believing in me even after my injury.”

She also had offers from Northern Kentucky University, Morehead State, Murray State and the University of Denver.

Welcome to the BBN, Cassidy!


@MaggieDavisKSR