UK women's basketball notes: Mitchell takes blame for soft week of practice

jsmith3@herald-leader.comFebruary 3, 2013 

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Kentucky had a chance to make some headway in a tight Southeastern Conference race with Tennessee, but Georgia did its part to complicate things.

The final horn at Memorial Coliseum sounded just minutes after the league-leading Lady Vols were upset at Missouri on Sunday.

But UK's Coach Mitchell said he wasn't going to worry about other teams.

"You'll drive yourself crazy if you worry about every one else and wishing things would happen," he said.

Instead he found himself wishing that he had coached defending SEC champion Kentucky differently this week when it had a bye. Instead of pushing them, Mitchell tried to give the team more down time.

"I didn't do a very good job this week of holding them to a high standard," he said after the 75-71 loss to the Bulldogs. "I don't think it's rest that they needed. It's a good dose of fundamentals and what's gotten us to this point."

The coach was asked later about a half-court trap Georgia switched to in the second half that frustrated UK point guard Jennifer O'Neill, who had eight turnovers.

Mitchell again went back to poor practices.

"We worked on that in practice, she wasn't super sharp with it, but that wasn't her fault, it's mine," he said. "Teams do what they want to do. It's my job as a head coach to make sure we are ready to go and we were not ready to function in this game when it really mattered. That's very disappointing."

With the UK and Tennessee losses, it opened the door for the rest of the SEC's best to get back in the hunt for the regular-season trophy.

The Lady Vols now sit atop the standings at 8-1, followed by Texas A&M, which is 7-1 after a bye on Sunday. UK, Georgia and South Carolina all have 7-2 records with seven games left in the regular season.

Loss snaps streaks

Seeing its 34-game home win streak, the second-longest in the nation, come to a close was frustrating for UK's players. They hadn't lost at home since Feb. 7, 2011.

"We have talked about how important this gym is, and the people who died to make this gym and make a Memorial Coliseum, and every time we go on that court, we go in to get the win," senior guard A'dia Mathies said. "I am just down that we went in and lost today."

All the Cats can do is start a new streak, said Mitchell, whose teams are 62-3 here over the last four seasons.

After the loss, Mitchell thanked the crowd of 7,016 for supporting the program through that streak, especially with so many former players at the game for Alumni Day.

"When you draw back and look at it over the total of the win streak, it was a lot of good plays by a lot of good players and so I just want to make sure the alumni knew they were appreciated today, win or lose," he said.

A fan of Memorial Coliseum?

Two seasons ago, Georgia guard Khaalidah Miller set a new career high at Memorial Coliseum, scoring 24 points on Jan. 9.

She topped that by scoring 25 points in the Cats' house on Sunday, a new personal best.

"It seems like she's trying to win a trophy up here," Georgia Coach Andy Landers said. "Maybe if they'd give her a trophy it would cool her off next time."

He also noted that he wouldn't want to be the junior the next time the Bulldogs face Kentucky. "She's not going to get any air."

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog: ukwomen.bloginky.com

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