Yes, Kentucky is ranked in the top five.
Yes, Kentucky is one of the highest-scoring teams in the nation.
Yes, Kentucky remains unbeaten.
No, that's not enough for Coach Matthew Mitchell.
He still finds plenty of reasons to shake his head in practice, plenty of reasons to push his team harder.
The biggest reason this week is a date with a fellow unbeaten, highly rated, high-scoring team in No. 9 Baylor on Friday night at AT&T Stadium as the undercard of a doubleheader with the men's teams.
"We're really trying to practice out of our mind right now," Mitchell said. "We're trying to practice really hard with a high level of intensity. That's how we're going to have to play Friday night to have a chance to win."
No more Mr. Nice Coach in practice for Mitchell, not with a veteran group with three senior starters still talking about making it beyond the Elite Eight. UK's seasons in three of the last four years have ended there.
If UK is going to stop knocking on the door of a Final Four, it will start with practice, Mitchell said.
"I've changed my approach in practice; I'm going after it every day," he said on Wednesday. "We're very fast, athletic, aggressive and the only people that can stop us are ourselves. We must practice with an edge and a tenacity that ensures we're going to take the game floor that way."
Kentucky (8-0) will need to play with an edge if it wants to play with Baylor (7-0). The Bears pounded UK 85-51 last season at Waco, Texas. In that loss, UK shot just 27.1 percent, its worst performance since 2008.
The Bears were aided significantly by 6-foot-8 Brittney Griner, an All-American and national Player of the Year. She helped them outscore UK in the paint 60-16 and outrebound the Cats 53-35.
Griner's gone, but that hasn't lulled UK into a false sense of anything.
"If people think Baylor's not as good because they don't have Brittney Griner anymore, they're sadly mistaken," UK guard Jennifer O'Neill said.
O'Neill faced off early on with the Bears' other star, point guard Odyssey Sims, in the McDonald's All-Star high school game. Sims was a junior when O'Neill was a senior.
Sims is now averaging an eye-popping 27.6 points (second most in the nation) and 5.1 assists for a Baylor offense that is scoring more points without Griner than it scored with her.
The Bears are averaging 98.9 points a game to 94.5 for Kentucky. Baylor is winning games by a national best 44.7 points a game.
"Odyssey Sims is probably the best singular talent that I've seen in the country this year," Mitchell said. "She is really, really amazing.
"They are a very good team, certainly not one-dimensional. Life continues after Brittney Griner and they are alive and well, I can promise you that."
Sims has been a key factor in the Bears' ball security, with the team averaging just 11 turnovers. Something may have to give against an aggressive defense like UK's, which is forcing 26.5 miscues a game.
"No matter where we can find the opportunity we need to try to make them very uncomfortable," Mitchell said.
Therein lies the head coach's amped up intensity in practice.
"No dirty words; it's really hard to explain," senior forward DeNesha Stallworth said of Mitchell. "You can just tell by his demeanor.
"He's just been emphasizing more the little things, whether that's talking, having energy, he has his word: I think it's zeal," Stallworth said. "To bring enthusiasm. He knows we play really well when we have great energy, so he's been emphasizing that and it's been working."
Yes, the Cats will find out just how well that's working on Friday night.
A horse? Of course
A Lexington horse owner and veterinarian is teaming up with UK to offer a unique promotion to help the Cats pack the house at Rupp Arena against No. 2 Duke on Dec. 22.
Dr. Stuart Brown is offering up part ownership of 3-year-old filly Patinka to one lucky fan who is randomly drawn during the second half of the game. The winner will receive 10 percent of the owner's winnings for any of the filly's races from Jan. 1 until Dec. 31 of 2014. Travel expenses for two to at least one of Patinka's races also will be included.
Brown is presenting the opportunity to honor his late wife Christine, Patinka's breeder who cared for the filly through a difficult birth.
"I just thought this was a unique and collaborative opportunity to keep sharing what Christine was so passionate about: horses and Kentucky basketball," Brown said.
NO. 5 KENTUCKY (8-0)
Starters: Bria Goss, 5-10, Jr., G (10.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.4 apg); Kastine Evans, 5-9, Sr. (12.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.3 apg); Janee Thompson, 5-6, So., PG; (9.8 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 3.6 apg); Samarie Walker, 6-1, Sr., F (10.3 ppg, 10.0 rpg); DeNesha Stallworth, 6-3, Sr., F (14.0 ppg, 6.8 rpg)
Key reserves: Jennifer O'Neill, 5-6, Jr., G (11.1 ppg, 3.0 apg); Azia Bishop, 6-3, Jr., F (6.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg); Linnae Harper, 5-8, Fr., G (6.0 ppg, 2.3 rpg); Makayla Epps, 5-10, Fr., G (4.7 ppg, 2.3 apg); Bernisha Pinkett, 5-7, Sr., G (7.4 ppg); Jalleah Sydney, 6-2, Jr. (3.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg)
Starters: Odyssey Sims, 5-8, Sr., G (27.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 5.1 apg); Niya Johnson, 5-8, So., G (3.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg); Makenzie Roberston, 5-9, Sr., G (6.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg); Nina Davis, 5-11, Fr., F (15.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg); Sune Agbuke, 6-4, Jr., C (6.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg).
Key reserves: Kristina Higgins, 6-5, So., C (8.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg); Imani Wright, 5-9, Fr., G (8.7 ppg); Khadijah Cave, 6-2, Fr., C (6.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg); Mariah Chandler, 6-2, graduate, F (5.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg); Chardonae Fuqua, 6-0, So., F (3.3 ppg); Ieshia Small, 6-0, Fr., G (4.9 ppg, 2.7 rpg).
All times EST and p.m.; home games in all caps
Date Opponent Result
Nov. 8 at Marist W, 75-61
Nov. 10 at Wagner W, 96-57
Nov. 13 GEORGIA SOUTHERN W, 103-38
Nov. 17 CENTRAL MICHIGAN W, 96-74
Nov. 21 LIPSCOMB W, 116-49
Nov. 24 at Middle Tenn. State W, 84-72
Nov. 27 BRADLEY W, 117-77
Dec. 1 LOUISVILLE W, 69-64
Date Opponent TV Time
Dec. 6 a-Baylor ESPN3 7:30
Dec. 12 at Depaul FS1 1
Dec. 15 ETSU FS South 2
Dec. 22 DUKE FS South 3
Dec. 29 GRAMBLING ST. TBD 2
Jan. 2 at Alabama TBD 1
Jan. 5 FLORIDA CSS 3
Jan. 9 at South Carolina TBD 7
Jan. 12 MISSOURI ESPNU 7:30
Jan. 19 at Auburn SEC TV 2
Jan. 23 ALABAMA TBD 7
Jan. 26 ARKANSAS SPSO 1
Jan. 30 at Georgia SPSO 9
Feb. 2 LSU SPSO Noon
Feb. 9 at Florida CSS Noon
Feb. 13 MISSISSIPPI SPSO 7
Feb. 16 at Tennessee ESPN 1
Feb. 20 SOUTH CAROLINA FS South 7
Feb. 23 at Texas A&M ESPN2 2
Feb. 27 at Mississippi St. TBD 8
March 2 VANDERBILT ESPN2 4
March 5-9 b-SEC Tournament TBD TBD
x-at Arlington, Texas (AT&T Stadium); y-SEC Tournament at Duluth, Ga. (The Arena at Gwinnett Center)