In Kentucky's mind, it has 11 more chances to play.
The Cats' upset loss to Louisiana State on Sunday served as a loud reminder that the season could be over at the sound of a horn a few games from now.
"We need every win we can get," senior A'dia Mathies said as No. 10 Kentucky prepares for its final road game of the regular season at Ole Miss on Thursday night. "Every game on the schedule is important. We have a possibility of playing four more games or playing 11 more games to get into the national championship game. Every game is special."
Kentucky's chances of repeating as Southeastern Conference champions likely ended Sunday in the LSU defeat. Matthew Mitchell's team is locked in a three-way tie for second place, two games behind Tennessee in the title race.
UK (23-4, 11-3 SEC) would need wins at Ole Miss (9-18, 2-12) and then on Sunday against Tennessee as well as a Lady Vols' loss to Texas A&M on Thursday night to make a share of a championship even possible.
"It's really up to the mercy of other people, so we're not really focused on that," Mathies said. "We just want to go out there and try to get a win on Thursday and again on Sunday and then head into the SEC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament.
"We're just taking steps to move forward and try to win every game from here on out. If we do that, then we'll be NCAA Tournament champions and SEC Tournament champions. That's where our focus is right now."
The scenarios are mind numbing, so Mitchell just tried to keep it simple this week: Win games, the coach told his team.
"We just told them it's really important now to any faint hopes that we have still to come back is winning," he said. "It's not anything that we can really obsess over or put a whole lot of energy into. We need to put energy into trying to beat Ole Miss."
Keep winning and the team can have 11 more opportunities to play together.
"If it is not 11, I hope it is 10," Mitchell said. "I hope we can play as many as we can play. I want them to recognize what a talented group we have and what we can do if we can just bring it together here at the end."
After watching video of the loss to Louisiana State, which included the Cats allowing the Tigers to shoot 64 percent from the field and 83.3 percent from three-point range in the first half, Mitchell said he has his players' attention.
"We just did not play in the first half with a championship-type effort," he said. "It was just an OK effort, and LSU made us pay for that. ... We just didn't play a good half of basketball and it cost us."
But maybe in the long run, that will be the game that Mitchell and his players will point to as the one that helped them end their season on a high note.
At least, that's what they hope.
"The fortunate thing is there's time to learn from it," Mitchell said. "It's not the last game of the season. It's not the final game we're going to play. So I think it's a great opportunity to learn, a good wake-up call for us."
No. 8 Kentucky at Mississippi
When: 8 p.m. Thursday
TV: None | Radio: WLAP-AM 630
Records: Kentucky 23-4 (11-3 SEC), Mississippi 9-18 (2-12)
Series: Mississippi leads 20-13
Last meeting: Kentucky won 82-41 on Feb. 2, 2012, in Lexington
Starters — A'dia Mathies, 5-9, Sr., G (15.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.4 apg); Kastine Evans, 5-9, Jr., G (4.4 ppg, 1.9 rpg); Jennifer O'Neill, 5-6, So., G (10.3 ppg; 2.2 rpg, 2.7 apg); Samarie Walker, 6-1, Jr., F (9.5 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 2.0 spg, 1.6 bpg); DeNesha Stallworth, 6-3, Jr., F (12.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.6 bpg).
Key reserves — Bria Goss, 5-10, So., G (9.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg); Bernisha Pinkett, 5-7, Jr., G (3.5 ppg, 1.7 rpg); Janee Thompson, 5-6, Fr., PG (4.0 ppg); Azia Bishop, 6-3, So., F (3.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg); Samantha Drake, 6-3, Jr., F (2.4 ppg, 1.3 rpg); Brittany Henderson, 6-2, Sr., F (1.2 ppg, 2.6 rpg); Jalleah Sydney, 6-2, So., F (1.8 ppg).
Starters — Gracie Frizzell, 5-10, Fr., G (7.2 ppg, 1.6 rpg); Diara Moore, 5-7, Jr., G (10.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg); Valencia McFarland, 5-4, Jr., G (11.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 5.3 apg); Danielle McCray, 6-1, So., F (5.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg); Courtney Marbra, 6-1, Sr., F (5.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg).
Key reserves — Kenyotta Jenkins, 5-10, Jr., F (5.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg); Amber Singletary, 5-9, So., G (4.1 ppg); Tia Faleru, 6-0, So., F (11.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg); Monique Jackson, 6-1, So., F (3.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg).
Kentucky (23-4, 11-3)
All times EST and p.m.; home games in all caps
Date Opponent Result
Nov. 5 x-BellarmineW, 113-33
Nov. 10Delaware StateW, 90-50
Nov. 13 at Baylor L, 85-51
Nov. 17 HIGH POINT W, 80-46
Nov. 23 MOREHEAD STATE W, 73-37
Nov. 25 USC UPSTATE W, 100-34
Nov. 28 MIAMI (OHIO) W, 92-53
Dec. 2 at Louisville W, 48-47
Dec. 7 a-DEPAUL W, 96-64
Dec. 9 MIDDLE TENNESSEE W, 68-46
Dec. 18 at Pepperdine W, 80-62
Dec. 21 at UC Santa Barbara W, 66-38
Dec. 28 ALCORN STATE W, 90-23
Dec. 30 MARIST W, 78-56
Jan. 1 FLORIDA W, 76-69
Jan. 6 at Alabama W, 87-70
Jan. 10Texas A&MW, 65-62
Jan. 13 at Missouri W, 69-43
Jan. 17 MISSISSIPPI STATE W, 100-47
Jan. 20 AUBURN W, 97-53
Jan. 24 at South Carolina L, 55-50
Jan. 27 LOUISIANA STATE W, 73-60
Feb. 3 GEORGIA L, 75-71
Feb. 7 at Arkansas W, 80-74 (OT)
Feb. 10 at Vanderbilt W, 75-53
Feb. 14 SOUTH CAROLINA W, 78-74
Feb. 18 at Texas A&M W, 70-66
Feb. 24 at Louisiana State L, 77-72
Date Opponent TV Time
Feb. 28 at Mississippi 8
March 3 TENNESSEE ESPNU 3:30
March 6 b-TBA TBA
x-exhibition; a-at Rupp Arena; b-SEC Tournament at Duluth, Ga.
Tennessee 13-1 22-5
Kentucky 11-3 23-4
Texas A&M 11-3 21-7
Georgia 11-3 23-4
South Carolina 10-4 22-5
Vanderbilt 8-6 18-9
LSU 8-6 17-10
Arkansas 5-9 17-10
Florida 5-9 16-12
Auburn 4-10 15-12
Mississippi St. 4-10 12-15
Missouri 4-10 15-13
Alabama 2-12 12-15
Mississippi 2-12 9-18
Arkansas at Florida, 7 p.m.
Texas A&M at Tennessee, 7 p.m.
Kentucky at Mississippi, 8 p.m.
Alabama at LSU, 8 p.m.
South Carolina at Missouri, 8 p.m.
Georgia at Mississippi St., 8 p.m.
Auburn at Vanderbilt, 9 p.m.
Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241 Twitter: @jenheraldleader Blog: ukwomen.bloginky.com