(AP Photo/James Crisp)
After running across Avenue of Champions to finally get to Memorial Coliseum (5:00 traffic), I am back to sitting in the friendly confines of Memorial Coliseum as the 6th ranked Kentucky women’s basketball team gets set to take on the 20th ranked Texas A&M Aggies. The Aggies won the national championship just two years ago, and are continuously a dominant power in the women’s college game. It will be a star power match up as All-American candidate A’dia Mathies for the Wildcats will battle up against an equally as impressive post player Kelsey Bone for the Aggies. This is a very important game for both teams as they look to remain undefeated in the SEC. You can watch the game on Fox Sports South or the UK IMG Network. Here we go Cats fans….
#6 Kentucky Wildcats versus #20 Texas A&M Aggies
FINAL KENTUCKY 65 TEXAS A&M 62 Wow. What a game. In a battle of two of the top teams in the SEC, the Cats came out victorious. It was a physical and extremely emotional game, but somehow someway, Kentucky came out and shut down the Aggies in the second half. There is now a new record for home wins in a row: 31. More coverage soon, Go Cats.
2nd Half 3:46: I know I’ve said it before but the crowd for this game right now is INSANE. I would bet that it is louder than Rupp at the moment, and the team is responding off of the electric energy in Memorial. Coach Blair looks a little freaked out: Welcome to the SEC Aggies. Stallworth and Mathies have keyed the UK offense this half, as DeNesha has stepped up to the huge challenge that Bone provides in the post. Gary Blair has just received a technical foul, as he is livid about the calls on Bone, or lack therof against Kentucky. Have I mentioned it’s loud in here? Kentucky leading 60-55.
2nd Half 7:59: Kelsey Bone has been clutch for the Aggies, as they give it to her just about every play, but the fans can’t stand her, screaming for fouls and travels every time she catches the ball. Freshman Thompson, who Coach Mitchell hasn’t been pleased with of late, has provided the Cats with some spark on offense, but has missed a few important free throws lately. Football Coach Mark Stoops is here to support the Cats…I see you. Mathies hits another three pointer to give her 21 points, the Aggies turn it over, and the crowd goes crazy. Tie game y’all, 53 apiece.
2nd Half 11:37: These two teams are going tit-for-tat as each play is being carefully strategized by both Coach Mitchell and Coach Blair. A good sign for Kentucky: Texas A&M looks tired, as many players on their team are bent over, hands on their kneeds, completely beat. On the other hand, the Wildcats look fresh as a daisy. That’s that off season conditioning for ya. Janee Thompson has entered the game for the first time tonight, and the first time in a week, and makes her presence known immediatly with a layup. I’m stressed REALLY REALLY STRESSED. Aggies up one, 50-49.
2nd Half 15:27: Kentucky starts this half perfectly, with a three from Stallworth, a steal from O’Neill, and a layup from Goss. The Aggies are forced to take a quick time out, and Mitchell will be preaching to his team to not let up and eventually the “Kentucky style of play” will wear Texas A&M down. This game is getting GOOD and is sure to be an instant classic against two powerhouse programs from the SEC. The Cats are taking all the momentum in this game right now and the crowd is fired up. UK has increased the intensity exponentially, and everyone in the stands are on their feet. Often criticized for their shooting ability, the Cats are 7-14 from behind the arc, and their long distance shooting has kept them in it tonight. Game is tied 44-44.
HALFTIME KENTUCKY 31 TEXAS A&M 37 In the fastest half of basketball ever, it was tough for the Cats, against a very physical Aggies team. O’Neill had and Mathies both had 12 points for Kentucky, who was playing catch up from the start. Coach Mitchell will surely try to amp up the defense and force the Aggies into more uncomfortable situations to generate transition offense. Bone and Pratcher paced the Aggies offense who seemed to know where to go with the ball on every possesion and shot a blistering 58% from the field. Hayley and I will be busy biting our fingernails off during halftime…help. Cats will look to wear out the Aggies in the second half, let’s hope it works.
1st Half 2:30: I’ve said it once and I’ve said it again: the trio of Mathies, O’Neill, and Stallworth is without a doubt the core of this Wildcat team and when they are on: it heightens everyone’s playing. So far tonight, they have scored all of UK’s points except two from Henderson, and are the only ones that look aware of what to do on offense. This first half has FLOWN by, as opposed to last weeks game against Florida which seemed to last forever. The Aggies have had the lucky bounce today, getting shots to fall that seem to trickle all over the rim before falling in. Physical battle, Aggies up 35-28.
1st Half 7:52: My oh my has O’Neill stepped up. After not playing last season due to a red shirt injury year, Jenny from the Bronx has emerged as one of the biggest leaders for the Cats this season, and often finds herself out hustling everyone. She plays ferocious defense, and is deadly on offense, especially from behind the three-point line. Memorial comes ALIVE as Stallworth follows up her best post move of the night by forcing a travel on A&M’s Bone. The Cats have shown good perseverance here early against a very well disciplined Aggies team. Aggies still leading in a very physical game 25-19.
1st Half 11:22: Early on the Aggies look like the aggressors, and for the first time this season at home, the Cats are facing more than a five point deficit. Mitchell knew his team would have to weather an early storm from Texas A&M, as the Aggies have played every style of play, in every situation, and aren’t intimidated by anyone. Coach Blair knows what he’s doing, and it shows. O’Neill and Mathies are pacing the Cats on offense with five and six points respectively, and everyone has stepped up on defense to try to contain shooting and rebound. How fitting that the potentially historic home winning record streak would come against the toughest team UK has played at home in over a year. Texas A&M leading 19-13.
1st Half 15:22: Kelsey Bone is showing early on how great of a player she is. She has a skill set in the post unlike most women’s players in the game today, and can score and rebound at will. Following suit, Mathies realizes she has to be a consistent, reliable player tonight, and nails a jump shot. Texas A&M has lost four times this season,but they have all been to top 10 opponents. The Aggies are a very smart, talented, and trained team, and it will take a complete Wildcat effort to beat them tonight. After a quick 9-2 Aggie lead, the Wildcats respond well as Jennifer O’Neill nails the first three-pointer of the game for Kentucky. This game is very fast paced early on, and somehow we are already at the first media time out. Aggies leading 11-7.
BzzzZZZZzzZZZ: The Cats are using their most successful starting lineup of Goss, Mathies, Stallworth, Walker, and O’Neill. These five have been vital for Kentucky’s success this year, and the secret number is three. If three of these players can put up dominant performances, the Cats will be very hard to beat no matter who they’re playing. Match up to watch: the post. Walker and Stallworth will have their hands full tonight with the likes of Bone and Bellock. Tip off is here and the Aggies start things off on offense. Meanwhile….can someone please explain to me the term “GigEm”?
10 Minutes to Tip: Just like last week, the energy in Memorial Coliseum is electric for SEC play. Matthew Mitchell and Company realize the big advantage they have, as Mitchell said today he thinks the Cats have “the best home field advantage in the conference”. Tonight could be historic for UK, as Kentucky is playing for their school record 31st consecutive home victory. The Aggies are led by Coach Gary Blair, who is in his 28th year as a division 1 head coach, and 10th with Texas A&M. Blair has amassed 626 victories in career, so tonight looks to be a battle till the end.