Wait what? Kentucky basketball doesn’t play until tomorrow. And they don’t play DePaul. What is this? It’s a special edition of ‘Let’s meet your starting lineups’ featuring UK Hoops, that’s what. The 7th-ranked women’s team has a big game tonight against the DePaul Blue Demons in Rupp Arena. It is their annual “Pack the House” game that is looking to break the single-game attendance record.
Last year the team played No. 6 Duke in Rupp Arena and set the current record of 14,508. As of Thursday, UK Athletics reports 17,000 tickets have been sold for tonight’s game. If you want to get in, general admission tickets can be bought for $1 on Ticketmaster using the code DOLLARDAYS. Of course, tickets can also be purchased at the door.
The Cats are 6-1 on the season and winners of its last five, following a thrilling come-from-behind victory over Louisville last week. The team trailed by as many as 14 points in the game, but outscored the Cardinals 18-6 over the final ten minutes of the game to squeak out of the Yum Center with a win. There is a lot of momentum behind Matthew Mitchell and his UK Hoops squad — let’s meet the starting lineups.
PG: Jennifer O’Neill vs. Anna Martin
The point guard situation for Matthew Mitchell is similar to the one men’s coach John Calipari faces. Mitchell has flip-flopped between sophomore Jennifer O’Neill and junior Maegan Conwright at point guard to various degrees of success through the first part of the season. Based off the last week’s game, O’Neill will get the start in this one and be looking to do more than just distribute the basketball. She is second on the team in field goal percentage (.524) and three-point percentage (.462).
Anna Martin is coming back home to the Bluegrass for a game, for the first time in her four-year collegiate career. Martin is a native of Lexington and went to Christian Academy where she helped her team win state titles in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Martin has scored in double figures in five of the Blue Demons seven games, and is averaging five assists per game, ranking second in the Big East.
G: A’dia Mathies vs. Brittany Hrynko
The leader in points (13.3 ppg), assists (3.0 apg), and tied for the lead in steals (2.3 spg), A’Dia Mathies is just that for this Kentucky team: a leader. She is on everybody’s “watch list” for the best player in the nation, as she consistently fills up the stat columns night after night. She boasts a solid 1.74 assist/turnover ratio and if it weren’t for her four turnovers against Louisville — which is an anomaly — that number would be up to a very impressive 2.63.
The sophomore guard, Brittany Hrynko plays 35.5 minutes per game for DePaul and is the best outside shooter. She is the team’s leading scorer (14.4 ppg) and leads the team in three-point shooting percentage (.369). She has made 24 treys and is coming off a 4-for-9 night from the perimeter last time out against Northwestern. In the last three games Hrynko has 39 field goal tries and 27 of those were three-point attempts. Two of those games against Hampton and South Carolina, her only made field goals in 26 total attempts were threes.
G: Bria Goss vs. Chanise Jenkins
Bria Goss is third for Kentucky in scoring (8.9 ppg), but excels from the free-throw line where she is 19-of-21 (.905) on the season, good for second in the SEC. Goss has reached double-figures in the scoring column four times this season and should increase her scoring productivity as the year progresses. She returns from last season after being the team’s second-leading scorer with 11 points per game after starting all 35 games.
After appearing in just two games and suffering a season-ending ankle injury as a freshman, Chanise Jenkins is back to playing a significant role in the Blue Demons offense. She is averaging 31 minutes per game while shooting at a 42 percent clip. Her rebounds (5.0 rpg), assists (4.8 apg), and steals (1.4 spg) also add to the cause. Jenkins is the third piece to a guard-centered lineup for head coach Doug Bruno, that is averaging 18.8 assist per game, 10th-best in the nation.
F: Samarie Walker vs. Jasmine Penny
Standing at a deceptive 6-foot-1, junior forward Samarie Walker ranks in the top-ten in the SEC in blocks (T-7th, 1.4 bpg), rebounds (8th, 7.6 rpg), and steals (T-9th, 2.3 spg). She has one double-double on the season which came against Morehead State near the end of November; a 15-point, 13-rebound outing. Her shooting has cooled considerably since then, however, only attempting ten field goals in the last three games, including being a relative non-factor in the game against Louisville where she scored two points in 13 minutes.
Jasmine Penny is second on the team in scoring (13.9 ppg), tied for 13th-best in the Big East, and leads the team in field goal percentage (.561) while shooting 46-for-82. She has paced DePaul in scoring three times this season, reaching the 20-point mark twice already. She is hauling in a little over four rebounds per game while averaging 25.6 minutes.
C: DeNesha Stallworth vs. Katherine Harry
The junior transfer from California needs just three points to become a 1,000-point scorer. DeNesha Stallworth broke a couple of milestones last time out against Louisville, scoring a UK-career best 14 points in career-high 39 minutes. She has scored double-digit points in all but two of Kentucky’s games, one in which she failed to reach double-digits came against the three-time All-American Brittney Griner while on the road at Baylor.
Katherine Harry is averaging 11 rebounds per game which leads the Big East. Her season-best 16 boards against Yale ties for most in the conference. Harry has three double-doubles in just eight games and has narrowly missed two others by a combined three points. She is shooting 49 percent from the field, while averaging that double-double with 11 and 11.
Kentucky will be defending its 25-game home winning streak when the tip off is thrown up at 7 o’clock. The game will be broadcast on the UK IMG Network, Fox Sports Network, and ESPN3.com, as well has play-by-play on the airwaves with Niel Price.