UK women's notes: Kentucky's Goss comes up big off the bench again

jsmith3@herald-leader.comFebruary 10, 2013 

NASHVILLE — Bria Goss probably had the numbers memorized.

Kentucky's sophomore guard is a bit of a perfectionist, so she probably knew there was a 10-game stretch in which she hit 22 percent of her three-point tries and managed to make just seven outside shots.

It was starting to affect her from close range, too.

So before the win at Arkansas on Thursday night, Kentucky Coach Matthew Mitchell decided to move Goss out of the starting lineup.

It wasn't punishment.

He thought a change of scenery might do her some good.

Goss, who had started every game of her UK career, responded by scoring 17 points. On Sunday, Goss repeated the feat, scoring 15 points in 24 minutes in the Cats' 75-53 win at Vanderbilt.

"I was convinced all she needed to do was get out of her own way and stop putting so much pressure on each play," Mitchell said. "We were trying to give her a signal to kind of change her thinking, pour herself into team, stop trying to change Bria Goss, just play for Kentucky."

Goss flashed her wide smile in the hallways of Memorial Gymnasium on Sunday. She looked relieved to have scored more points in two games (32) than she'd scored in the four games leading up to them.

It's a process, Goss said, but she's feeling better.

"It's felt good just being around people who are so supportive and so confident in me," Goss said. "It feels really good."

When Goss is on, it takes Kentucky to another level, Mitchell said.

"When she plays well, we are who we can be."

Avenging a loss?

Turnovers, missed opportunities, bad decisions.

They still haunt Kentucky's players a few weeks after a 55-50 loss at South Carolina ended the Cats' 17-game win streak. It wasn't lost on Kentucky's players that the Gamecocks will be at Memorial Coliseum on Thursday night.

When asked if they were aware of their next opponent, UK's players nodded.

"Oh, we're aware," said Goss, who scored just two points in the loss to the Gamecocks.

Forward Samarie Walker said she's tried not to look ahead to the next game. But with the Vanderbilt hurdle cleared, she was ready to focus on avenging a loss.

"Obviously it is on our mind that we lost to them and we're going to come out a lot harder than we did at their place," Walker said.

Mitchell seemed confident a different Kentucky team would show up at Memorial Coliseum on Valentine's Day for the rematch.

"It's a huge game," he said. "They know what happened in Columbia, so I don't think we'll have that trouble again. ... They'll be really focused and hungry for a victory."

Mitchell moves up charts

With a victory on Sunday, Mitchell took over the No. 2 spot on the all-time coaching wins chart at Kentucky with 135 victories.

He could take over the top spot from Terry Hall as early as the Louisiana State game on Feb. 24.

The coach, who is in his sixth season at Kentucky, usually shrugs off personal milestones, but he seemed pleased to be a few wins away from No. 1.

"It means a tremendous amount from the standpoint that I'm still here at Kentucky," he said. "I am just so grateful to have landed in the spot I think is perfect for our family. ... If the good Lord is willing, we'll be here a long time. Then you're just so grateful for all the hard work that people have put into it starting with the players."

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

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