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Kentucky Falls Short to Duke in Rupp Arena

In front of a packed house of 23,706, the 5th ranked Kentucky Wildcats fell to the 2nd ranked Duke Blue Devils 69-61 as UK could not overcome the loss of their leading scorer DeNesha Stallworth. Duke’s Tricia Liston was unstoppable, scoring 28 points for Duke and Janee Thompson led the Cats with 12 points, all coming in the second half. Free throws absolutely killed Kentucky, as the team shot a combined 42% from the charity stripe, which is brutal for a team attempting to make a comeback. The Wildcats are now 11-1 on the season.

After the game, a glum Matthew Mitchell was down on himself and his inability to prepare his team against Duke’s tough defense. “Duke did a great job in their zone defense of really confusing us. That is 100% my fault. I am kicking myself that we did not do a better job attacking their zone. There is plenty we can learn from that.” Many times on offense, Kentucky would just pass the ball around the perimeter and ended up taking forced, tough shots.

Mimicking the men’s team, the women struggled mightily from the charity stripe. “You lose by eight and you miss 11 [free throws], they really bit us today,” commented Mitchell. Plenty of chances to bring the lead down to four or three with free throws, and long bricks off free throws ended up being point swings towards the Blue Devils. The Wildcats, usually the quickest team on the court, got schooled in defensive transition, with long outlet passes silencing the Rupp crowd and Duke always looked calm, and mentally focused.

While nine of the 10 active players on Kentucky’s roster were able to score, the Cats lacked that star performance, which is tough for a team without a player who averages nearly 15 points a game in Stallworth. Mitchell didn’t want to spend time talking about the loss of his post player, saying it would be pointless to discuss unless the Cats had another chance to play the Dukies later in the season.

 

Without Stallworth, Kentucky faced a tough size advantage and Duke’s Elizabeth Williams noted how helpful that was for the Blue Devils. “I think it was a big advantage, our guards were able to get easy buckets in the lane,” she said. Definitely a learning experience for Kentucky, who will surely only get better in the future as SEC play approaches.

Finally, just taking a second to acknowledge how much this program has grown in the past few seasons. To sell out Rupp Arena for a women’s basketball game is a true testament to the success of Matthew Mitchell and the Kentucky athletic department as a whole. Despite the loss, it’s a great time for this program. Mitchell was sad about the loss saying “I sure wanted to reward that great crowd with a victory, but I had an overwhelming feeling of gratitude”. He assured the press there would be plenty more days like this in the future, minus the loss.

Kentucky will take a break for the holidays and are back in action next Sunday afternoon against Grambling State.

@WilderTreadKSR

Article written by Wilder Treadway

KSR Alpha Class '12 #holla

16 Comments for Kentucky Falls Short to Duke in Rupp Arena



  1. jeremy
    5:47 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

    UKan’t win the big games.

    I like Coach Mitchell and how he has elevated the women’s program but no matter how hard they try they can’t seem to push it over the hump and win the most important games on the national stage



    • wow
      6:19 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

      Geez dude… at least know something about our women’s team before posting a stupid comment like that. We’ve played 3 top 10 teams this season and beaten 2 of them (the UK vs. Baylor game was the best game played by either women’s or men’s team in a couple years).

      You’re right in that they need to get over the hump that is the NCAA Elite 8…. but this team is definitely heading in that direction. Our men’s team could learn a ton from the women’s team.



    • MTSterling
      6:40 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

      Wow Jeremy! Did you just decide to start following UK women’s basketball today? That was a STUPID comment.



    • jeremy
      8:36 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

      by big games, I am referring to the games that move us toward the final four and against final four calibre talent. ie the Duke’s, UConns, etc. We have hit a ceiling (hopefully temporary) of being capable of beating the high second tier teams but have not been able to beat the elite when it counts. Yes, I am aware of the Baylor win but that was a team ranked lower than us this year. I am talking about the need to beat those teams higher ranked than us and also doing it when it counts, in the tourney.

      I still maintain that we have not been able to win the important big games but, as I said, Mitchell has been able to elevate the program substantially.

      In some respects it is similar to the men’s team this year. They have been unable to grab that signature win against a top tier team. The talk is that a win against a team on the level of L-ville, UNC, the Sparty’s might very well open the door and give the team the confidence it needs to rise higher.

      And have I just started watching women’s basketball? No. I broadcasted the 3 time national champion Old Dominion University women’s team in the 80’s. Been keeping an eye on girl’s play for quite some time. Hopefully this clarifies my comment a bit



    • WomensBBall follower
      11:03 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

      As a follower of womens basketball since the 1990’s I completely agree with you Jeremy.

      I don’t think Coach Mitchell can do anything differently other than recruit one of the two or three players each year that make a difference in the game, i.e. Skylar Diggins, Britney Griner, Moscada-Lewis at UConn. It just seems like the ceiling for this group of players is the Elite 8. It is what it is…and unfortunately I don’t see seniors developing all that much more during the second half of their senior year enough to put them over the top.

      I think the focus by certain fans and media members on joining the “elite” is a little misguided too. If you look at all the other “elite” names in the game they have multiple strings of regular season and tournament conference titles to back up their brand. Despite all the elite 8 runs UK has one conference title since 1982 and no conference tournament titles. The focus needs to be on that.



  2. rainman
    5:57 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

    The inability to stop dribble penetration, and horrible officiating cost them the game!
    Not sure why we couldn’t stay in front defensively against this team!

    Some people were saying they didn’t, but it was still true, Loserville sucks!



  3. jeff j
    6:20 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

    hats off to Mr. Mitchell & Lady Cats. Hold your heads up and hope you play them again After all, … We’re both going to be in the tournament. GO LADY CATS !!



  4. Just a Thought
    6:23 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

    Womens championships are won with a skilled big, or two. Coach Mitchell likes to outrun the opposition. Recruiting lesson learned.



    • WMBguy
      10:30 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

      DeNesha Stallworth was out with an injury. She was one of the go-to bigs for UK Hoops. And also, he’s recruited 2 post player for next year.



    • jimp
      11:16 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

      Had three injured BIGS out today. Two of them 6’3″ and one 6’1″ which is tall for women’s basketball. One of them a preseason All-American candidate, being DeNesha Stallworth. Also had Samarie Walker play today at 6’1″ who was a McDonalds All-American and Asia Bishop at 6’3″ and Jalleah Sidney at 6’2″ played in the game also. They were all highly recruited out of high school.



  5. Bobby Riggs
    6:26 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

    Women’s sports are great.



  6. David T in MTS
    6:37 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

    Refreshing to hear a coach take the blame for a loss rather than blaming his players. Thanks for being a ‘stand up guy’ Coach Mitchell.



  7. Bob the replier
    7:19 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

    Your not going to win when you have people walking back on defense and people refuse to rotate over to stop wide open drives to the basket. I also agree that refs were horrible. They let Duke get away with walks all day



  8. the Truth
    10:15 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

    Mitchell has brought this program a long way from what is was before his arrival. But I think if you check his record against ranked teams you will find the CATS are still not I the porch with the big dogs of Women’s College Basketball. Treadway, not having Stallworth is an excuse.



  9. TheDirtyThirty
    11:06 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

    Jeremy is right. Gotta get over that hump. Should’ve beat this team. It’s a mental thing.



  10. Joe D.
    2:25 am December 23, 2013 Permalink

    Give Duke’s coaches, staff and players a lot of credit for executing their game plan and taking advantage of our weaknesses, shooting woes and lapses. We have plenty of time after Christmas to learn from and address what went wrong in this loss. Poor free throw shooting is one obvious starting point. Stallworth’s absence didn’t cause us to shoot 8 for 19 from the foul line. An 11- 1 record at Christmas with 2 wins against top 10 teams, including one on the road and the other vs. the defending national runner up Lady Cards, – not too shabby a start, IMHO. Merry Christmas and Safe Travels this holiday season.