Most coaches try not to put too much pressure on a team before a big game.
They seek to eliminate any extra sources of tension.
Not Coach Matthew Mitchell. When his No. 16 Cats face South Carolina at home on Sunday, he will be talking up the need for a big game.
■ With a win over the Gamecocks on Sunday, UK could have only its second undefeated season at Memorial Coliseum in school history. The only other time that happened was the 1980-81 season.
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■ Kentucky is firmly in second place in the Southeastern Conference, two games ahead of the third-place team. It needs to win if it wants to stay in the hunt.
■ It's Senior Day for forwards Amani Franklin and Lydia Watkins.
They deserve to go out winners at home, Mitchell said.
"For them to have a chance to finish out their senior season undefeated at home is tremendously special," he told the media Friday.
He said he'll relay this message to the team at practice this weekend: "I'm motivated as a coach; our assistants are motivated as coaches. I want our team motivated to put everything they have into this game."
■ Kentucky can avenge one of its most bitter losses of the season with a win over the Gamecocks, who topped UK 79-71 on Jan. 14.
When Mitchell watched the game live, he thought that maybe the Gamecocks and their 6-foot-5 freshman phenom Kelsey Bone, were just a bad matchup for his Cats.
But film doesn't lie, and the UK coach said it was clear on film that his team was outhustled, including being outrebounded 40-29.
South Carolina still isn't the most ideal matchup for a UK team that doesn't use a player taller than 6-foot-2 and was outscored in the paint by the Gamecocks 52-30, but Mitchell said the Cats can do some things to offset their perceived disadvantage.
"They did some things we didn't handle real well, but if we handle them better this time, it's not an impossible matchup," Mitchell said. "It's a tough matchup, but not an impossible matchup."
A win on Sunday also would help convince Kentucky's players that they can bang with a player the size of Bone, who made 11 of her 14 shot attempts against UK.
She's leading the conference in rebounding at 9.6 a game and is ninth in scoring with 14.2 points. She has eight double-doubles.
The Cats can't guard her one on one, so they're going to have to do a better job of guarding by committee.
"One thing we need to do better is ball pressure," he said. "Ball pressure is a hallmark of our defense. If the ball handler can't see the person open, then obviously she can't get it in there. We didn't have very good pressure on the ball."
UK lacked that in its loss at Columbia. The players learned that via two days of exceptionally intense practices after the loss.
"It wasn't fun," Franklin said earlier this season when asked about the sessions. "It wasn't fun at all."
After losing to South Carolina, something good happened to Kentucky, though. The Cats won their next eight games.
On Friday, the UK coach didn't just lay out the above challenges to his players.
He had one for Kentucky's fans, too.
"It will be a tall task on Sunday, but if our fans could turn out for this one, I'd be especially appreciative because of the two young women we'll be honoring," he said. "They deserve a great crowd out there on Sunday."