Sophomore Brittany Henderson always believed Kentucky played as hard if not harder than every other team.
She always thought it, but she got proof this season.
Lined up along the Memorial Coliseum lane waiting for a UK teammate to shoot a free throw, heavy-breathing Auburn forward Jordan Greenleaf turned to Henderson.
"Gosh, can you guys just quit playing so hard right now? I'm sooo tired," Henderson recalled the senior saying. "We don't have anybody left on our bench."
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Henderson smiles as she recalls the event.
"I just knew at that moment that we play harder than everyone else," she said.
That was Coach Matthew Mitchell's goal last season when he put in the new, aggressive, high-pressure style. He now refers to the style as if it's a brand: "Kentucky basketball."
As No. 16 UK begins the post-season road Friday at the Southeastern Conference Tournament in Nashville, it believes "Kentucky basketball" can be a difference-maker, especially in a tournament format.
"I've always thought our style of play is built for tournament play," Mitchell said. "It's hard to get ready for it with just a little bit of preparation time."
And this season, UK has a lot more quality depth to keep the pedal to the floor.
Eleven of the 12 players on Kentucky's active roster average more than 11.5 minutes a game.
Only one player (senior Victoria Dunlap) averages more than 30 minutes a game, and she's playing only 31.3. There are no UK players in the top 10 for minutes in the conference.
It's nice to have the luxury of extra bodies when you play this style, sophomore guard A'dia Mathies said.
"Last year we just had to go," Mathies said. "We didn't have as many players and that (depth this year) does help us out. For the other team, just knowing that they have to scout so many players makes it more difficult, too."
Seven of UK's players average five points or more, including Dunlap's 16.7 points and Mathies' 13.3 points.
The Cats' bench has pitched in with at least 20 points in 21 of the past 29 games.
"We're certainly going to try to make it a factor," Mitchell said of his depth when it plays Louisiana State, which is coming off a Thursday afternoon victory over Alabama.
"We'll go into that game trying to make our first-round bye count, make it very up-tempo, very fast-paced, very tough for (LSU)," Mitchell said.
The Cats' spare parts have helped them lead the conference in steals per game (11.4). They also force an SEC-best 24.6 turnovers and average 25 points off those mistakes.
"If we continue to use our speed and defense to propel our offense, we'll be a tough team to beat," Mathies said. "It's all about playing hard and playing Kentucky ball."