UK Women

Turnovers fuel UK women's attack

Since last year, UK 21-1 when foes have 25 miscues

jsmith3@herald-leader.comFebruary 13, 2011 

UK women vs Morehead State

UK's Victoria Dunlap and MSU's 21- Linda Dixon went after a loose ball as the University of Kentucky played Morehead State University in Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Ky., Friday, November, 12, 2010. This is second half women's basketball action. UK won 82-48. Charles Bertram | Staff

CHARLES BERTRAM | STAFF — Charles Bertram | Staff

  • Matchups

    LOUISIANA STate

    Probable starters: Adrienne Webb, 5-9, So., G (13.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg); Latear Eason, 5-8, Sr., G (3.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg); Katherine Graham, 5-11, Sr., G (9.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 3.2 apg); Taylor Turnbow, 6-2, Jr., F (5.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg); LaSondra Barrett, 6-2, Jr., F (9.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg).

    Top reserves: Jeanne Kenney, 5-8, Fr., G (6.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg); Bianca Lutley, 5-11, So., G (2.4 ppg, 1.4 rpg); Destini Hughes, 5-10, Jr., G (2.2 ppg); Courtney Jones, 6-2, Jr., F (5.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg); Theresa Plaisance, 6-5, Fr., F (2.3 ppg).

    No. 15 KENTUCKY

    Probable starters: Kastine Evans, 5-8, Fr., G (3.2 ppg, 3.0 rpg); Carly Morrow, 5-11, Sr., G (2.1 ppg); A'dia Mathies, 5-9, So., G (13.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.9 apg, 2.1 spg); Victoria Dunlap, 6-1, Sr., F (17.3 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 3.2 spg); Brittany Henderson, 6-2, So., F (5.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg).

    Top reserves: Keyla Snowden, 5-7, Jr., G (9.8 ppg); Bernisha Pinkett, 5-7, Fr., G (6.9 ppg, 2.2 rpg); Maegan Conwright, 5-8, Fr., G (6.9 ppg, 2.4 rpg); Jennifer O'Neill, 5-5, Fr., G (5.3 ppg); Samantha Drake, 6-3, Fr., F (3.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg); Crystal Riley, 5-5, Jr., G (2.7 ppg); Sarah Beth Barnette, 6-2, Fr., F (2.1 ppg, 2.0 rpg)

The magic number for Kentucky is 25.

That's the goal for how many turnovers the Cats would like to force in any given game.

Coach Matthew Mitchell understands it's a lofty goal even for a defensive-minded team like his.

Ten times this season his team has forced an opponent into 25 or more miscues. Nine of those 10 times the Cats have walked away the victor.

Including last season, when UK installed its high-octane, pressure defense, the No. 15 Cats are a whopping 21-1 when they force an opponent to cough the ball up 25 times or more.

Mitchell knows his team isn't likely to force 25 turnovers against many Southeastern Conference opponents, but it has to be the goal for a team that is undersized against nearly every opponent it plays.

Turnovers mean extra possessions. They mean extra chances to score, especially in transition. UK is averaging 25.5 points (23.3 points in SEC play) off opponent mistakes this season, which is a huge chunk of its offense.

It's a simple formula, the coach asserts.

The numbers certainly didn't lie after UK's surprise loss at South Carolina on Thursday.

"Fourteen," he said in disgust, recounting the number of turnovers Kentucky forced in that game, a season low. "We can't beat many people with 14. ... (Our defense is) set up to turn you over, and 14 is bad for us."

Kentucky isn't planning to change its defense now. There won't be a new, softer zone put in against Louisiana State on Sunday afternoon.

Mitchell is determined to get the Cats back on the defensive track.

"We have no default button to press," Mitchell said. "We have no Plan B on defense. ... So when you get into situations like (Thursday) night when you don't have energy, you look a little bit silly. When you play with great energy and enthusiasm, you look like a team people can get excited about."

UK (18-6, 7-4 SEC), which leads the league and is 29th in the nation in steals, will see what its defense is made of versus the Tigers, who are averaging 14.1 turnovers a game, the lowest in the conference.

"You have to disrupt them," Mitchell said of the Tigers (17-9, 7-5 SEC), who are coming off two straight wins and are nipping at the Cats' heels in the SEC standings with just five games to go. "They're supremely talented and a good team."

The Cats have lost six in a row to LSU at home, and their last win over the Tigers in Lexington was in overtime in 1998.

Pink thinking

The game with LSU will be UK's annual "Think Pink" game. The Cats will be outfitted with pink uniforms and Mitchell will get a special pair of pink-hued shoes to be auctioned off with several other items after the game.

Mitchell joked that he expected there to be a rush of fans bidding on his Nike sneakers that have a pink ribbon and a UK logo on them.

"I'm anticipating many people will want to wear them if they have size 14 shoes," he said. "Or if they don't, I can't think of a better mantle piece than some big shoes with UK painted on them."

A dollar from every single-game ticket will be donated to the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund.

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