Kentucky women's guard, post player tandems key in victory

jsmith3@herald-leader.comMarch 8, 2013 

DULUTH, Ga. — Kentucky is learning something that all good horror flicks have illustrated for years — that a two-headed monster is far fiercer than the single-headed sort.

In this case, that two-headed beast for the seventh-ranked Cats was point guards Jennifer O'Neill and Janee Thompson, who raced and rushed past Vanderbilt in the Southeastern Conference quarterfinals on Friday night.

"One of the best games they've had as a tandem," UK Coach Matthew Mitchell said afterward. "I thought they were pretty relentless with pushing the basketball. That was something we wrote on the board before the game, that we wanted to be relentless in this game. ... We wanted to make pace a factor."

Thompson and O'Neill were helpful with more than pace. The duo combined to score 15 points, hand out five assists and grab two steals.

When O'Neill was getting treatment this morning, the starter said a visit from Thompson told her this was going to be a special game for the two of them. She saw some confidence in the freshman.

"We know what we have to do for our team to be successful," O'Neill said. "This team goes as we go, and if we're not pushing the tempo, they're not going to run. We just understand our roles, and we have the same common goals."

Mitchell also sang the praises of another dynamic duo, post reserves Azia Bishop and Samantha Drake.

Drake matched her season high with nine points. Bishop added nine points and five rebounds.

"I just thought they played beautifully," Mitchell said of Drake and Bishop. "It was probably their best game, too, as a tandem. We got tremendous production from them. It's a great luxury for us to have right now."

Cats get shot at Georgia

Kentucky advanced to its third straight SEC Tournament semifinal, and it will meet No. 12 Georgia, a team that ended the Cats' 34-game win streak at Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 3.

In that game, the Bulldogs came from 13 points down to upset the Cats 75-71.

The top four seeds advanced to Saturday's semifinals. Tennessee and Texas A&M will meet in the first game, followed by Kentucky versus Georgia. The games start at 4 p.m. and will be shown on ESPNU.

Numbers and notables

■ It was UK's sixth straight win over Vanderbilt, a school that had dominated it previously, winning 22 of 23 games over the Cats from 1992-2009.

■ Kentucky gymnast Jenny Hansen was honored as an SEC legend on Friday night. The eight-time NCAA champion was introduced and given a commemorative clock before removing her black stiletto boots and doing a back flip at midcourt.

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241 Twitter: @jenheraldleader Blog:

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