KNOXVILLE — If Matthew Mitchell were coaching against Kentucky right now, he would be trotting out a zone defense, too.
Louisiana State played a 2-3 zone against UK and won with it.
The next game, Tennessee did the same thing and drubbed the Cats 91-54 at Thompson Boling Arena on Monday night.
The zone is becoming Kentucky's Achilles' heel.
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"Active, big, athletic zones that just stand in the paint and force you to make tough plays and tough decisions" are causing UK to struggle, Mitchell said.
Kentucky, which came into the game with the Southeastern Conference's most potent offense averaging 77.2 points a game, was held to 54 points Monday night.
That followed up a season-low 51-point performance in Baton Rouge.
UK used to be able to shoot its way out of such predicaments, averaging a league-best 6.3 three-pointers a game, but not the past couple of games.
Kentucky made just four of its 19 tries from long range and just one of 10 in the first half.
The shooting woes seemed to snowball as the game wore on.
"Everything looks better when shots go in the basket, and that's a tough thing to go through: offensive struggles," Mitchell said.
"We still have a good team. We still have good players, and I need to do a better job coaching."
Woes on offense seemed to affect UK's defensive intensity, too, Mitchell said.
"I just kept waiting for us to make a run, and we started turning them over a little bit, and we started getting some looks, but we couldn't make any shots," he said.
Playing a 2-3 zone the entire game wasn't necessarily the Vols' first choice, but it was an effective one.
"As we say, we're a man-to-man team, but we're going to go with what's going to win the game, and tonight our 2-3 was very good," assistant coach Holly Warlick said.
She called it an unbelievable defensive effort by the Lady Vols, who were coming off a loss in which they allowed Vanderbilt 93 points.
"If you would have asked me before the game if we were going to play all 2-3 zone, I would've said you were crazy," Warlick said. "But our 2-3 was good; it worked."
Mathies exits injured
After taking a Glory Johnson elbow to the face, Kentucky guard A'dia Mathies left the game eight minutes into the second half and didn't return.
Mitchell indicated that the junior, who had 12 points and four rebounds, would be OK.
Mathies, with a plug in her nose to stop the bleeding, was active on the bench during the second half.
"She's being checked right now," he said in the post-game news conference. "We're certainly hopeful for the best there."
Louisville named host city for NCAA
Louisville's KFC Yum Center will host first- and second-round games of the NCAA Tournament next season, according to a release sent out Monday.
Two seasons ago, when UK advanced to the Elite Eight, its road started at Louisville in Freedom Hall.