(AP Photo/James Crisp)
Back at it. The 17-1 (5-0) and 5th ranked Kentucky women’s basketball team is playing again this afternoon in Memorial Coliseum against the 13-5 (2-3) Auburn Tigers. The Cats are trying to win their 17th straight game and remain undefeated and atop the standings in the SEC. It’s a double-dip against the “War Eagles” as the men put together a dominating performance last night on the road against AU. The Cats are led by defending SEC Player of the Year A’dia Mathies, who paces Kentucky with nearly 15 points a game. The Tigers boast the only player in the SEC who has scored in double-figures every game this season: sophomore forward Hasina Muhammad. Controlling her will be a key for the Cats to garner another home victory against a tough conference foe. You can watch this one on the SEC Network or ESPN3. Cats on Cats on Cats. Oh, and make sure to follow me on Twitter @WilderTreadKSR #TwitterWars
#5 Kentucky Wildcats versus Auburn Tigers
Postgame: In arguably the most awkward post-game press conference that I have ever been a part of, Auburn’s head coach said “I thought it was pretty unclassy to continue to press when you’re up by 46 points”. She was NOT happy, and looked completely put off by the fact Kentucky never let up with their press even when the game wasn’t in doubt. The simple answer for this is #40MINS. This UK team never stops playing.
FINAL KENTUCKY 97 AUBURN 53 Well that was fun. Kentucky put together a complete and total phenomenal effort to shut down a talented Auburn team. The Cats were hitting on all cylinders from the get-go, and their stylized “40 Minutes of Dread” defense was completely up to par. The Tigers had ## turnovers, opposed to only 15 from UK. Kentucky was one three-pointer shy of setting a new school record for 3’s in a game. Simply put: the Cats could not have played better. The look on Auburn’s face said it all, and that was one of complete and total frustration and confusion. This team has it all. Mathies led the way with 24 points followed by 17 for O’Neill, 16 for Stallworth, and 15 for Walker.
2nd Half 7:05: The atmosphere has cooled off in Memorial as this game is all but over, but that doesn’t mean the Cats have stopped playing hard. Kentucky is one of the most unselfish teams you will find in any sport, as they are quick to help any of their teammates up of the floor, and they simply don’t care about individual statistics. As long as the team is winning: that’s all that matters. That is evidenced by the 14 total assists for UK today. Auburn is on a run themselves now as the Cats have gotten sloppy on offense because of the big lead, but Kentucky is still winning 76-50.
2nd Half 14:58: Auburn only lost to Tennessee by nine….just keep that in mind as you look at today’s score from the game. UK is simply taking the Tigers to pound town this afternoon. They can do no wrong. The biggest goal UK Hoops had this season was to reach that “next level” that teams like Baylor, Notre Dame, UConn…etc. can hit on a regular basis. Well let me tell ya…this game could be the beginning of Kentucky hitting that new gear of play. Mathies already has 22, on nearly perfect shooting, and Cats cruising 66-27.
HALFTIME KENTUCKY 51 AUBURN 21 Without a doubt the best half of basketball this Kentucky team has played the entire season….and that’s saying something considering they’re coming off of a 53 point win. Auburn looked completely helpless against the pressure from UK, and the Cats excelled in every aspect of the game. If Kentucky continues to play like this: they are without a doubt a serious contender to make the Final Four. The Tigers committed 16 turnovers in the first half, as Kentucky’s pressure was as effective as I have ever seen it. This team>>>
1st Half 3:38: The straight up hustle this UK Hoops team has put forth today is insane. The Tigers are literally not able to move the ball over the halfcourt line until at least 15 seconds have already ticked off the shot clock. Auburn has been forced to take numerous timeouts in this first half to stop all of the momentum the Wildcats have, as they make all of their hard work look extremely easy. Kentucky looks 10 steps quick than Auburn today, and the visiting team looks to be on the verge of tears as they simpy cannot do anything. UK is simply blowing the Tigers out of the water 44-15. I think this team is ready for March.
1st Half 7:36: Things have gotten back to normal here in Memorial, as the O’Neill, Stallworth, and Mathies show is in full effect. These three players are the keys to Kentuky’s pace, rhythm, offense, and overall success. Each of them have at least eight points already today, and Coach Mitchell is extremely pumped about his team’s performance. Auburn is a team that only lost to 9th ranked Tennessee on Thursday by nine points, after holding a double-digit leads at some points. Kentucky is playing tournament-level basketball right now, and are simply excelling in every facet of the game. Coach Mitchell has his team playing as hard as they possibly can for him, which surely makes his job a lot easier. One can only hope they aren’t peaking too early. Memorial is rockin’ and Cats are dominating 31-13.
1st Half 11:51: Samarie Walker entered today’s game with something very different about her: her hair. Walker is now sporting a mohawk, and let me tell ya…it’s fierce. If team’s weren’t already intimidated by Kentucky’s deep and talented post players, they will be now. Jennifer O’Neill hits two straight three-pointers, and Coach Mitchell runs out onto the floor to congratulate his team. Stallworth aleady has eight points and four rebounds, and the Cats are clicking offensively. The Tigers look completely lost and confused on offense, and Coach Flo is trying to get some sort of rhythm for her team. Good start for the Cats, as they are winning 19-7.
1st Half 15:47: It’s been typical SEC basketball to start this game. Tough, hard nosed, and fast paced. Auburn is a ver disciplined team, all because of the system Coach Flo has installed in a very short time as the head coach. Auburn’s 5’1 point guard Najat Ouardad seriously looks like a dwarf among giants, but her ball handling skills are pretty good (because she’s so close to the floor). The only problem is that she can’t really see who to pass to when UK’s taller and fast players are harrassing her in the backcourt. Stallworth already hits a three-pointer and a runaway layup, and Kentucky leads 7-6.
BzzzzZZZzZZzzz: Today is the “We Back Pat” game for the Wildcats, as this initiative is focused on bringing awareness to The Pat Summitt Foundation, a fund of East Tennessee Foundation, and its fight against Alzheimer’s disease. The SEC has stepped up in a big way to help support and honor the legend that is Pat Summitt, in her battle against a very serious illness. Kentucky and Tennessee remain as the only undefeated teams left in conference play, but Georgia, Texas A&M, and Vanderbilt are all close behind with just one loss each. After being called out on the KSR radio show, Hayley and I will try to control the “Twitter Wars” today against our very friendly friend who sits next to us on press row, but no promises can be made. The ball is tipped, the Cats win it…aaaand we’re off!
10 Minutes till Tip: Auburn has historically been one of the best women’s basketball programs in the conference, but after a few tough seasons the past couple of years, first year head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy (she goes by Flo) has turned around the level of success for the Tigers and the school is very happy with what she has accomplished so far. She left a very good Georgetown team to come and coach in the SEC, and her team is a tough, defensive squad. Good thing for the Cats: they lead the NCAA in turnover margin, and look to enforce their will against a team that hasn’t had any success on the road in conference play this season. Auburn has a player that is 6’8, and their starting point guard is 5’1….that would make for a pretty awkward team photo.