The University of Kentucky women’s basketball team has lost three games in a row, and if fans hoped things might soon get easier the Wildcats’ upcoming schedule looks exactly the opposite of that.
Kentucky (8-4) hosts 24th-ranked California (8-2) on Thursday afternoon in Memorial Coliseum, hoping to end a skid dating to Dec. 8 that includes losses to Florida Gulf Coast, Miami (Fla.) and Louisville.
California, which is playing Kentucky for the first time ever, comes to Lexington for its final pre-conference tuneup before entering Pac-12 play. The Bears’ two losses this season have come at the hands of No. 1 UConn and then-No. 23 Missouri. Cal comes to Kentucky on a five-game winning streak, having defeated Seattle, Santa Clara, San Diego, Pacific and BYU since its three-point loss to Mizzou.
California is led by junior forward/center Kristine Anigwe. The two-time All-America honorable mention stands 6-foot-4 and leads the Pac-12 in scoring (18.7 points per game) and rebounding (8.8). Anigwe watched the Bears’ most recent game from the bench because of what Cal called a “coach’s decision,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle. She is expected to return to action Thursday against UK. Senior guard Mikayla Cowling scored a season-high 21 points in Anigwe’s absence against BYU.
Kentucky closes non-conference play Dec. 28 with a trip to always-challenging Middle Tennessee State. The Wildcats open Southeastern Conference play on New Year’s Eve by hosting No. 7 Tennessee in Rupp Arena, then travel to No. 19 Texas A&M on Jan. 4. Kentucky’s SEC schedule later includes dates with No. 4 South Carolina, No. 5 Mississippi State and No. 16 Missouri.
Junior guard Maci Morris leads Kentucky in scoring this season at 15.8 points per game. She also averages 4.6 rebounds and has made a team-best 31 three-pointers. Junior guard Taylor Murray is averaging 11.9 points per game and is second on the team with 6.0 rebounds per game. Murray leads the team with 47 assists and 23 steals. Freshman forward Tatyana Wyatt is averaging 10.7 points and 4.4 rebounds.
Thursday’s game marks Kentucky’s second this season against a Pac-12 opponent. UK won 73-68 at Washington State on Nov. 19.
▪ Thursday is dollar day at Memorial Coliseum. Fans can get $1 general admission tickets and $1 hot dogs, and a limited number of Santa hats will be given out to fans upon entry.
▪ Junior forward LaShae Halsel is scheduled to sign autographs after the game on the main concourse near the Lexington Avenue entrance.
No. 24 California at Kentucky
Where: Memorial Coliseum
TV: SEC Network
Radio: WLAP-AM 630
Records: California 8-2, Kentucky 8-4
Series: First meeting