Here we are folks. It’s the last game of the year 2013 for the Kentucky women’s basketball team. It’s a year that has brought lots of joy (an Elite 8 appearance, wins over Louisville, Tennessee, and Baylor) and a few disappointments as well (another blowout to UConn, falling short to Duke) but as a whole, it’s been a fun one. The 6th ranked Wildcats sit at 11-1 on the season and are gearing up for their last non-conference contest of the year. The Tigers of Grambling State come rolling into town with a 3-7 record, and it should be a quick, rollover victory for UK as they prepare for the SEC next week. The Cats will be without senior center DeNesha Stallworth for the third straight game following an arthroscopic surgery on her knee. Stallworth is expected to return to the lineup within the next week/week and a half. Until then, the Cats will be without their leading scorer, but playing against a team who only averages 64 points a game, I think Kentucky will be just fine.
#6 Kentucky Wildcats vs Grambling State Tigers
FINAL KENTUCKY 109 GRAMBLING STATE 46 Well that was a nice change of pace to get back on the winning side of things. The Cats are now 12-1 on the season entering conference play, which is very impressive given the strength of their non-conference schedule. For the fifth time this season, all active players on the roster recorded a point, and Kentucky eclipsed the 100 point mark yet again. Bria Goss left the game with a very impressive stat line, finishing with a career high 23 points (Miley Cyrus approves), eight rebounds and a 12-12 mark from the free throw line. On to conference play we go….
2nd Half 7:22: Things are getting a little chippy in Memorial as Grambling is visibly upset about getting completely shut down in every way possible. We still have not deciphered why Grambling’s head coach or rest of team isn’t here, but we’re gonna search for some answers at the post game press conference, as long as no one runs away like Rick Pitino. Oh and….Kentucky is winning 95-34.
2nd Half 15:55: Not much to say in this one other than…Cats are rolling. Hayley and I are probably going to see a movie tonight…anyone seen American Hustle? Recommend it? Lemme know tho. In terms of the game, Goss is leading the way with 15 points, followed by 13 for Thompson and 11 for Evans. Free throws (a stat I said would be important to improve upon) have still been very lackluster today as UK is only shooting 15-24 and Mitchell will definitely not be happy about that. In other news, Hayley’s outfit is (fire emoji) Kentucky is rolling 72-33.
HALFTIME KENTUCKY 60 GRAMBLING STATE 19 Just like I predicted, it’s a thorough demolition for Kentucky. Nine of the 10 active players on Kentucky’s roster have scored at least one point, and Grambling is lucky if they get through an offensive possession without turning it over or air-balling. It’s a pretty decent crowd this afternoon for a glum Sunday afternoon against a lesser opponent, but I don’t think attendance is the worry of any related to UK Hoops after last weeks sell out against Duke. This is a good confidence booster game going into the SEC, and Mitchell will look to stomp on the throat of the Tigers in the second half. Something tells me we’re gonna break 100 again…Kentucky has forced 17 turnovers and scored 26 points off those GSU miscues.
1st Half 7:50: This one’s getting ugly. Grambling simply does not have the speed or athleticism to keep up with the Wildcats in this one, and Mitchell is taking this is a learning opportunity. He has tinkered with several different lineups to try some new things, and so far the Cats have responded well. It’s been a balanced scoring attack for Kentucky as Bria Goss leads with nine followed by Bishop with six, Pinkett with six and Thompson with six. Alumni band is in the house and they are straight goons, holding up a picture of Joe B. Hall every time the Tigers shoot a free throw for no apparent reason. Cats are cruising 37-10.
1st Half 11:46: Kentucky’s “second string” of five players that come in after the starting lineup is just as good as the first five, and there is literally no drop off in talent. Freshman Linnae Harper has been all over the court to start today’s game with three points and four points already. Despite the fact that Grambling State barely has any players in today’s game, the ones they do have are extremely vocal. They’re constantly yelling or talking to each other, even during the middle of plays. The Wildcats have exploded on a 13-0 run capped with another 3-pointer from Bernisha Pinkett and Kentucky is running away, 28-8.
1st Half 15:50: Strange start to today’s game…Grambling State’s head coach Patricia Cage Bibbs is nowhere to be seen, and their assistant coach Lou Hamilton is manning the sideline. Also, the Tiger’s bench is virtually empty with only two players on the bench and no staff, no trainers, no nothing. It’s definitely an odd sight to see. After I get past these distractions, the game is actually a little closer than I thought it would be to start. Cats haven’t been very tough on defense, but Bishop, Goss and Thompson all have four points. Kentucky leads 13-6.
BzzzzZzzzZzzzZ: My early prediction for today’s game is…a blowout. Grambling State is extremely undersized and under talented. They only have seven players dressed in uniform today off of an 11 team roster, so getting in foul trouble is not an option for them. Look for Kentucky to get back on track this afternoon in big fashion gearing up for conference play. PS, the SEC needlepoint belt I got for Christmas is making it’s first appearance this afternoon and I couldn’t be more happy about it. Neither could Shalon Pillow. Cats win the tip…aaand we’re off.
10 Minutes till Tip: One big stat to keep an eye on for today’s game: free throws. Missing 11 free throws against the Duke Blue Devils last weekend hurt the Cats dearly, and Mitchell has put a heavier emphasis on shooting foul shots this week in practice. He’s challenged each of his players to shoot 80% during practice, and if they can’t do that, they come back in the evening to try again. Against a team with much less talent than them, the Cats have to take time to practice the fundamentals and things they need to perfect against the big teams in the SEC. We’ll see…..crowd is filling up nicely by the way.