It’s that time again. After what seemed like a year long break from basketball (it was just nine days), the UK Hoops team is back on the court tonight in sunny California. Matthew Mitchell and Co. left for the west coast on Sunday morning, 5:45 in the morning to be exact, and have since been practicing in the gyms of various high schools and living life in Malibu getting ready to take on their next opponent. That opponent happens to be the Wave of Pepperdine. When searching for pictures of the “Wave” I found this gem of Willie the Wave…notice the flip flops #beachready
Alright….now on to the real meat of this post: the game. UK enters tonight’s match up with Pepperdine on a seven game winning streak taking down the likes of Louisville, Depaul and Middle Tennessee State. They are currently ranked 7th in country with an 8-1 record, much better than PU (is that what you’re supposed to call them?). The Wave are 3-5 on the season with losses to fellow SEC school Arkansas, Washington, and USC highlighting their non-conference. Kentucky is the first ranked opponent they’ve played all season. Let’s check out their squad:
Robie Mayberry: enters tonight’s game as the leading scorer and rebounder for Pepperdine with 11.6 and 5.8 a game respectively. She is a junior forward and made the All WCC Freshman Team two years ago. She is a California native and her minutes have increased by over 10 a game since last year. At only 5’11, look for her to struggle against the bigs of Stallworth and Walker for UK.
Shay Cooney-Williams: a senior guard for the Wave, averaging over 31 minutes a game and scoring around 10 points a game. She came to Pepperdine from Texas, and shoots around 40% from the 3-point line. Her main duty will be to somehow control the ball from the harassing pressure of the Cats….yeah, good luck with that.
Jade McNorton: this girl is a big’n. A towering 6’3 center from Boise, Idaho, who based on her stats, doesn’t really take advantage of her size/know how to use it very well. She only averages around 8 points a game, and only 4 rebounds, statistics that wouldn’t be acceptable if I were the coach, but hey, that’s just me. She does have the best field goal percentage on the team, most likely cause all her shots are within five feet of the basket.
Ea Shoushtari: yeah….absolutely no clue how to say her name so don’t ask me. She’s only a sophomore from Los Angeles, playing guard for the Wave. She comes into tonight’s game averaging nearly 8 points a game, and shoots nearly 50% from 3-point land. Don’t look for her to get too many shots up tonight however, the Cats pride themselves on not making any open shots available for a full 30 second possession.
Kelsey Patrick: Patrick will likely be the last starter for the Wave. This 6’1 senior forward averages only 5 points a game, and will most likely be in for defensive purposes only. From Washington, her college game hasn’t really translated from the prowess that her high school game suggested it would, and look for her to get abused in the post by the much more talented UK team.
As a whole, Kentucky should win this match up fairly easily. A’dia Mathies leads the team with 13 points a game, but after her, eight players average at least 4 points a game. It’s a balanced, team effort that the Wildcats bring to the court night in and night out, and just because the game is thousands of miles away, look for a UK victory. Predicting a leading scorer for this team for each game is about as easy as finding an Easter egg at my grandmother’s house….not easy. Look for DeNesha Stallworth to add to her blistering season so far, and that winning the turnover battle by +10 thing Mitchell likes to talk about? That’ll definitely continue.
The best part about this road trip: the two game swing for the Cats in California was primarily a way for Mitchell to reach out to two players on his team, Brittany Henderson and DeNesha Stallworth, and allow them to play in front of their families in friends. Henderson and Stallworth are from Pasadena and Richmond, California respectively, and Mitchell said “Our thinking was to give our kids a great experience and also at the same time get Brittany Henderson and DeNesha Stallworth back to California. It’s tough on their family and friends to get to watch them.
Game tips at 10, you can listen online with my boy Neil Price live oooor just follow me on Twitter to stay updated @WilderTreadKSR. Go Cayuts.