Mitchell calls for consistency from UK women

jsmith3@herald-leader.comFebruary 1, 2014 

Kentucky Georgia Basketball

Kentucky guard Bria Goss, center front, was fouled by Georgia forward Merritt Hempe, center back, after grabbing a rebound Thursday night. Georgia won 58-56.

AJ REYNOLDS — AP

  • Lineups

    LSU

    Starters: Danielle Ballard, 5-9, So., G (9.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 3.2 apg); Raigyne Moncrief, 5-10, Fr., G (11.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.2 apg); Jeanne Kenney, 5-8, Sr., G (11.1 ppg 3.9 rpg, 3.9 apg); Theresa Plaisance, 6-5, Sr., F (14.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg); Shanece McKinney, 6-4, Sr., F (8.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg).

    Key reserves: DaShawn Harden, 5-9, Jr., G (6.9 ppg, 2.1 rpg); Shiela Boykin, 6-2, Jr., F (2.0 ppg, 2.4 rpg) Anne Pedersen, 6-1, So., G (3.1 ppg, 2.0 rpg); Rina Hill, 5-7, Fr., G (3.9 ppg).

    KENTUCKY

    Starters: Jennifer O'Neill, 5-6, Jr., G (12.1 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 3.2 apg); Bria Goss, 5-10, Jr., G (9.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg); Kastine Evans, 5-9, Sr. (10.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg); Samarie Walker, 6-1, Sr., F (10.5 ppg, 9.1 rpg); Jalleah Sydney, 6-2, Jr. (3.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg).

    Key reserves: Janee Thompson, 5-6, So., PG; (9.8 ppg, 3.2 apg, 2.0 rpg); DeNesha Stallworth, 6-3, Sr., F (11.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg); Azia Bishop, 6-3, Jr., F (6.7 ppg, 6.5 rpg); Makayla Epps, 5-10, Fr., G (3.6 ppg); Linnae Harper, 5-8, Fr., G (6.4 ppg, 2.6 rpg); Bernisha Pinkett, 5-7, Sr., G (4.4 ppg).

  • LSU at Kentucky

    When: Noon Sunday

    Records: LSU 17-4 (6-2 SEC); Kentucky 16-5 (4-4 (SEC)

    Series: LSU leads 31-11

    Last meeting: LSU won 77-72 last season in Baton Rouge, La.

    TV/radio: FS South; WLAP-AM 630

There have been players-only meetings.

Kentucky's players have run the Memorial Coliseum steps after losses to remind themselves of the sweat equity they've put in to get wins at their home gym.

There have been team-building exercises and coaches being more brazen and intense.

But the No. 13 Cats haven't found their way back to being the team that won 12 of 13 to start the season, with the only loss coming to a top-five team.

"It's just a tough one to solve right now, but we have to solve it and we can," Kentucky Coach Matthew Mitchell said as he previewed UK's game against No. 14 Louisiana State (17-4, 6-2 Southeastern Conference) on Sunday. "One thing that we do know is that we have the talent to get it done."

But talent and effort are two different things.

He wants to see more effort.

"Unless we can find a way to really, really be humble here and take full responsibility for how important it is for each individual to show up and be very consistent throughout the game effort-wise, we'll struggle," he said on Friday.

Mired in an offensive slump, UK has lost two of its last three games and four of its last seven.

There is no time for pouting, moping and head hanging with the Cats getting ready to face a Tigers team that has topped them three of the last four times.

Mitchell hopes UK wakes up from its offensive fog, which included shooting a season-low 30.2 percent from the field at Georgia on Thursday night.

Playing LSU means there's no place to hide, Mitchell told his team.

"It's really the best thing that can happen because at some point, you're going to have to step out into that spotlight and play, and stop worrying about 'I'm going to miss this shot, or we're not going to win' or all of that," he said. "There is no better opponent than LSU because they will put a lot of stress on us to score. It's a great opportunity for us on Sunday."

Mitchell won't be looking for star performances. He doesn't need someone to score 30 points, he just wants to see consistent effort from all involved.

"It was hard to get five on the floor that were all playing together," he said of Thursday's game. "That's no one's fault but mine. I have to find a way to get that consistency going."

There's no time like the present for the Cats (16-5, 4-4).

Including LSU, five of UK's final eight opponents are ranked in the top 25 and another is Florida, who already has knocked off the Cats this season in Lexington.

"You have to really stay emotionally strong here and look at the facts and deal with the facts and get it back going," Mitchell said. "The time for discouragement does not exist. We don't have time for it."

Pinkett day to day

Kentucky senior guard Bernisha Pinkett did not make the trip to UK's game at Georgia on Thursday. She was taken to the hospital after experiencing symptoms of her sickle cell trait during practice on Wednesday night.

The reserve was going to be monitored by doctors, Mitchell said, and will be assessed daily.

"She'll be day-to-day, but we think she can bounce back from it and get back going," he said.

One for the girls

Kentucky will celebrate National Girls and Women in Sports Day at Memorial Coliseum on Sunday. Festivities will include celebrating female student athletes from several teams on campus, including soccer, golf, swimming and diving and volleyball.

As part of the celebration, women's sports trailblazer Pat Deacon, a UK alumna, will be given the seventh annual Sue Feamster Trailblazer awards for her accomplishments as a coach and longtime athletics administrator.

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

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