Coach: Matthew Mitchell, 224-110 overall (194-81 in eight seasons at UK; 30-29 in two years at Morehead State)
Last season: 24-10 overall (10-6 SEC, finished sixth overall and tournament semifinalist); lost in NCAA Tournament second round; final national rankings of No. 11 (Associated Press) and No. 16 (ESPN/USA Today)
What's at stake: Both on and off the court, Kentucky had more than its share of trials and tribulations in the last year.
Last season ended much more quickly than any in the Cats camp would've predicted: in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Memorial Coliseum. Expectations (at least nationally) are lower for UK this season, but not internally with the return of stars like Makayla Epps and Janee Thompson as well as the addition of junior college player of the year Evelyn Akhator.
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"I think we can be as good as we've been here," Mitchell said in October. "We can be really good. ... I've continued to tell them after each practice: We have everything we need."
UK also has a unique opportunity starting this year to never leave Lexington on its road to the Final Four with potential NCAA Tournament games at Memorial Coliseum and then the regionals being played in Rupp Arena. But UK has a long way to go and a lot of rebuilding to get there, including moving on after the recent unexpected departure of Linnae Harper.
UK has recommitted to playing an up-tempo style, but will be doing it without some key parts from last year like Harper, Jennifer O'Neill and Bria Goss.
It might be a rocky start for the Cats with Thompson still coming back from her leg injury and Epps returning from her suspension, but a somewhat softer non-conference schedule should help.