Like every coach, Matthew Mitchell has one goal.
"I hope we don't ever lose another one the rest of the time I'm here," the Kentucky coach said on Friday while dissecting his team's loss to Tennessee the night before.
"If I can start recruiting like Cal, that's a possibility that you never lose. That's my goal right now is to never lose another game."
Of course Mitchell is no John Calipari, so he's trying to put the loss to the Lady Vols behind his team quickly as it prepares for yet another top-25 matchup at Memorial Coliseum on Sunday against No. 21 Georgia.
As much as Mitchell and his No. 10 UK team would like some time to lick their wounds after suffering a second straight one-point defeat to archrival Tennessee, they have too much work ahead of them.
"We're playing a Georgia team that will beat our tail if we don't get ready for them," Mitchell said of the Bulldogs, who are 4-1 in their last four trips to UK, including a 75-71 win in Lexington two years ago.
"It's a wonderful thing from that standpoint. If you want to hang your head right now, Georgia will be more than happy to take advantage of that."
Much like Kentucky after the loss of point guard Janee Thompson, the Bulldogs (17-4, 5-3) will be trying to bounce back from a similar injury. They lost leading scorer Shacobia Barbee to a broken leg against the Vols on Jan. 25.
This game against Georgia starts an important stretch of games for Kentucky (16-5, 5-3 SEC) as it tries to secure an all-important bye in the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
Georgia and UK, along with Louisiana State, are tied in the standings at 5-3 halfway through league play.
This next stretch of games — at Vanderbilt (3-5 in SEC play), versus No. 18 Mississippi State (7-2), at Tennessee (8-0) and then at home against Texas A&M (4-3) — could have important implications in the seeding for the tournament and beyond.
When UK won the regular-season SEC title in 2012 and came up one game short in 2013, Mitchell said he'd often let his mind wander down the schedule and try to play the matchup game.
And even though he acknowledged this stretch of games is "a time of separation," he refused to look beyond Sunday's game.
"I'm not concerning myself with the standings," he said. "We need to win some more games, be an NCAA Tournament team. There's a lot of things we need to do along the way before we think about big picture."
Thompson easing back
It's been three weeks since Janee Thompson broke her leg at South Carolina and had surgery to repair it.
And even though she's still feeling some pain, the junior point guard has spent a lot of time watching practices, sitting in the corner of Memorial Coliseum during home games and being as involved as possible.
Thompson was in the locker room at halftime to help make adjustments during the Tennessee game this past week, and she even texted in some tips at halftime of the Missouri game on the road last weekend.
As she becomes more mobile and comfortable, Mitchell expects that Thompson will be a big help to replacement Makayla Epps as she navigates her new, full-time position.
"Janee's seeing it well," he said. "I think she'll help her a lot."
The game against Georgia will be Kentucky's annual Alumni Day where more than 35 former players return and are announced at halftime. That makes the sense of urgency even stronger, Mitchell said.
"For many people, it's the only time they get back each year or maybe the only time they get back every five or 10 years," he said. "We want to try hard every game and play hard every game, but it's really special when alumni come back."
UK will pay a special tribute to the 2009-10 Elite Eight team during a halftime presentation. That team started UK's regular trips to the NCAA Tournament and included names like Victoria Dunlap, A'dia Mathies, Amani Franklin, Lydia Watkins, Crystal Riley, Amber Smith, Carly Morrow and Keyla Snowden.