Kentucky making adjustments after losing Stallworth to injury

jsmith3@herald-leader.comDecember 11, 2013 

Kentucky forward DeNesha Stallworth will miss 3-4 weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on her left knee, Coach Matthew Mitchell announced Wednesday.

Stallworth, a 6-foot-2 senior from California, is the fifth-ranked Cats' second-leading scorer and rebounder, averaging 14.2 points and seven rebounds.

The forward had problems with swelling in her knee after Friday night's four-overtime victory over Baylor, and doctors opted to remove some floating articular cartilage, Mitchell said.

"Not the kind of news you want to hear, but we are glad it was nothing serious," Mitchell said at his Wednesday morning news conference to preview Kentucky's game at DePaul on Thursday night.

"Certainly when you lose someone like DeNesha everybody has to rally and really come together and work hard and pick up the slack that's created by her absence," he continued. "Our team is certainly capable of doing that and I think they will want to do that."

Junior forward Azia Bishop (6.1 points, 6.3 rebounds) probably will start in Stallworth's place for the next month, as Stallworth misses games at DePaul on Thursday and a key top-five showdown with second-ranked Duke at Rupp Arena on Dec. 22.

But Mitchell didn't rule out going to more four-guard sets, which Kentucky (9-0) used regularly in the second half and overtimes against Baylor.

"We will move Makayla Epps over full-time to the (small forward spot) during this time and I think that really, really helps our basketball team in a number of ways," Mitchell said of the freshman swing player, who averages 5.3 points.

"It is difficult for a freshman to come in and have to play multiple positions, and she has done a nice job of it," the coach said, "but she has looked very good the last couple of days in practice playing primarily at the four."

"We're as well-equipped to handle (adversity) as anybody because we've had some kids who have sacrificed to come here that maybe don't play as many minutes that they might at other places, but they are very good very players," Mitchell said.

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

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