Matthew Mitchell: Duke is an explosive team
Rebecca Greenwell is getting an extended taste of her old Kentucky home this week.
The leading scorer for Duke University spent four days of her Christmas break visiting with friends and family in her hometown of Owensboro, Ky.
Now back on campus, Greenwell is preparing for a double dose of home cooking.
Greenwell’s 15th-ranked Blue Devils (11-1) host No. 17 Kentucky on Thursday and No. 8 Louisville in their Atlantic Coast Conference opener on Monday, and the redshirt junior knows what that means.
“I was busy (visiting back home), but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Greenwell shared on the blog she writes for Duke sports information. “I can relax back in Durham since we don’t start school for a couple more weeks. Coming up we play my two home-state schools UK and Louisville back-to-back, so it’s time to get work.”
Greenwell is averaging 20.5 points this season, which ranks second in the ACC and 17th nationally. Her 40 made three-pointers — she shoots 44.4 percent from beyond the arc — are the 12th-most nationally this season.
In two career meetings, Kentucky has been able to hold Greenwell relatively in check. She scored only one point in a frustrating 71-61 loss to Kentucky last season in Rupp Arena and managed 13 in Duke’s 89-68 win at Cameron Indoor the year before.
“We had a game plan to try to make it tough on Becca,” Kentucky Coach Matthew Mitchell said after limiting Greenwell to 0-for-6 shooting in last year’s meeting. “She’s a very, very good player.”
Kentucky will need that type of execution again to win at Cameron Indoor, where the Wildcats are 0-2 all time. One of the players who helped contain Greenwell last season, guard Taylor Murray, might not be available for the Wildcats on Thursday night. Murray broke a finger against Arizona State on Dec. 11 and sat out Kentucky’s ensuing two games.
“Taylor is just day-to-day at this point. We are not going to rush her back,” Mitchell said Wednesday. “We will see where she is closer to game time.”
The visit to Duke is Kentucky’s final non-conference game before the Wildcats (9-3) dive head first into Southeastern Conference play on New Year’s Day at Tennessee.
“They are really explosive offensively,” Mitchell said of the Blue Devils. “They can beat you from the perimeter and can beat you inside. They really rebound the ball well, which has been one of our Achilles’ heels. ... That is a big challenge for us.”
UK is coming off back-to-back victories at home against Radford and Washington State, but the Cats have lost their only two road games this season, at Colorado and at Louisville.
“Every game from here out starting with Duke and going through the SEC schedule is going to be a big-time game for us,” Mitchell said. “We need to just continue to practice hard and work hard for each other and good things are going to happen.”
No. 17 Kentucky at No. 15 Duke
When: 7 p.m.
Live video broadcast: WatchESPN.com (online only)
Radio: WWTF-AM 1580
Records: Kentucky 9-3, Duke 11-1
Series: Duke leads 5-2
Last meeting: Kentucky won 71-61 on Dec. 20, 2015, in Rupp Arena.
Probable starters: Maci Morris, 6-0, G, So. (12.2 pts, 3.1 rebs); Evelyn Akhator, 6-3, F, Sr. (14.3 pts, 10.4 rebs, 1.0 blks); Taylor Murray, 5-6, G, So. (12.7 pts, 5.1 rebs, 2.4 asts); Makayla Epps, 5-10, G, Sr. (17.9 pts, 4.6 rebs, 4.3 asts); Alyssa Rice, 6-3, C, Jr. (3.9 pts, 5.5 rebs)
Key reserves: Makenzie Cann, 6-1, G, Jr. (8.7 pts, 4.2 rebs); Jessica Hardin, 5-8, G, Sr. (3.6 pts); Paige Poffenberger, 5-8, G, Fr. (1.2 pts); Jaida Roper, 5-6, PG, Fr. (1.5 pts, 1.5 asts)
Probable starters: Lexie Brown, 5-9, G, Jr. (17.1 pts, 3.3 rebs, 3.6 asts, 2.8 stls); Oderah Chidom, 6-4, F, Sr. (9.3 pts, 6.6 rebs, 2.7 blks); Rebecca Greenwell, 6-1, G, Jr. (20.5 pts, 6.4 rebs, 44.4 3pt FG pct); Kyra Lambert, 5-9, G, So. (9.0 pts, 4.1 rebs, 4.3 asts); Leaonna Odom, 6-2, F, Fr. (9.1 pts, 4.3 rebs)
Key reserves: Erin Mathias, 6-4, F/C, Jr. (6.3 pts, 4.1 rebs); Kendall Cooper, 6-4, F/C, Sr. (5.3 pts, 4.6 rebs)