Fresh off a rejuvenating bye week, the 10th ranked UK Hoops team looks to keep up it’s winning ways and continue to climb in the conference standings with a road game in Auburn, Alabama this afternoon. The Cats (14-3, 2-2 SEC) hope to extend their winning streak to six in a row against the Tigers (11-6, 2-2 SEC) after a 44-point beat down in Lexington last season.
After a tough stretch of time when Kentucky was not it’s healthiest the past few weeks, Coach Mitchell said the Wildcats were “blessed” to have an off week. “[We] got what we needed out of the open date and so I think we’re starting to round back into full strength and we’ll need to be as sharp as we can be to win Sunday, I can tell you that,” he said. Seniors DeNesha Stallworth, Kastine Evans, and Bernisha Pinkett are all coming off nagging injuries but rest assured Mitchell said his team is healthier than they have been in a long time, and that’s a good sign heading into the meat of the conference schedule.
In the past, UK has had it’s bread buttered by their pressure and attacking defensive tactics, and while that still holds true, the Cats have been able to rack up a higher number of points this year than in the past. All five Kentucky starters are averaging double figures, and UK currently leads the conference averaging 89.7 points per game (Auburn averages 67.2). In their losses however, the Wildcats are only averaging 64 points a game, so offensive efficiency is key to pick up a key for UK.
Kentucky currently sits two games behind the league leader Texas A&M, but with upsets happening every week, it is an open ball game in the SEC right now. The Cats have a stretch starting today against Auburn, Alabama and Arkansas who are all sitting in the lower half of the conference. UK hopes to use this time to gain some ground, momentum, and confidence while letting everyone else beat up on each other. The success of the Cats usually can be directly correlated to the point guard play, which has been spotty of late. After a strong start, sophomore Janee Thompson has cooled off, and junior Jennifer O’Neill has been a bit wacky, with a horrendous shooting percentage of late.
On paper, Auburn is no match for the Cats. UK has far more talent than the Tigers do, and AU has had a mediocre season to this point, beating who they should and getting blown out at times by better teams. However, road play in the SEC is never an easy thing, and victories away from home are hard to come by. Kentucky needs to keep their momentum, and pick up a tough one against a salty Auburn team. If you don’t remember, after last year’s shellacking, Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy took the stage at the post-game press conference stating how UK “disrespected” her team for keeping the press on the entire game…
You can watch today’s game at 2:00 on SEC TV, which is shown on the CW in Lexington. Cats.