UK Women's Basketball

UK women top Arkansas 72-63

Not so long ago, Kentucky had lost four of its five games.

Coach Matthew Mitchell worried aloud about his team's confidence and its psyche.

It was hard for him to imagine that any coach, especially a fellow Southeastern Conference coach like Tom Collen, would ask his players to emulate the Cats as the Arkansas boss did Sunday.

"We implored our kids: 'We have to play aggressively like they do. We have to take it aggressively at them,' " Collen said of his discussions during timeouts.

The coach surmised it was that aggression and strength that got UK through some rough patches and led it to a 72-63 win over the Razorbacks in front of a season-high 5,570 fans at Memorial Coliseum.

"They stayed aggressive," Collen said. "The strength of Kentucky's game is their aggressiveness and their two post kids. They really take it at you."

Those sentences wouldn't have been uttered about Kentucky a month ago.

In the middle of December, UK was shooting 34.6 percent from the field and 23.2 percent from the three-point line.

In the progression of tape from this season, Collen has seen Kentucky (11-6, 1-1 SEC) become a different team.

"Before, they were the type of team that just threw the ball up and went and got the offensive rebound," Collen said. "They couldn't make shots, and they didn't care. ... But they are stepping up now."

Since its loss to Louisville on Dec. 14, Kentucky is shooting 42 percent from the field and 39.3 percent from beyond the arc.

In that span, the Cats have gone 6-1 with the lone loss coming at Tennessee on Thursday.

"They were good players when we were in a slump," Mitchell said of his players. "I knew they were good players then, and now they're playing up to their capability. ... This team has a lot of confidence right now, and they should. They're finding ways to win the game."

On Sunday, Kentucky blew open a 34-34 tie by scoring 14 unanswered early in the second half. The Cats' two-three zone kept Arkansas scoreless for seven-plus minutes and forced the Razorbacks into nine turnovers.

During that 14-0 run, five players scored for Kentucky. That balance translated over to the final stat sheet, with five players finishing with nine points or better.

Amani Franklin led the way with 16 points and five rebounds. Victoria Dunlap added 15 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots despite playing only 29 minutes with foul trouble. Carly Morrow had 13 points and three steals.

"It's just confidence," Franklin said of UK's recent scoring swagger. "We have to have that mentality that it's going to go in. ... Early on, if we missed our first shot, we assumed it wasn't a good shooting night."

It was shooting that got UK through a tough time when Arkansas (11-6, 0-2) started to make its move, using an 8-1 run to get within seven points.

Amber Smith and Franklin nailed back-to-back three-pointers and Morrow threw in a third a minute later to make UK's lead more comfy again.

"We didn't mean to give them those shots, but we did, and they made them," Collen said of Kentucky, which hit eight three-pointers for the second straight game.

Then the Razorbacks took advantage of foul trouble for Dunlap and fellow post player Eleia Roddy and used a 9-0 run to get within six with 2:42 to play, but Kentucky was able to make nine of 10 free throws to seal its win.

Lyndsay Harris paced Arkansas with 15 points. Charity Ford chipped in 14 points and Louisville native Ceira Ricketts 13.

"We overcame some adversity and played hard enough to win," Mitchell said. "We're thrilled, thrilled with this victory."

Guards Smith and Carly Ormerod also added nine points apiece for UK.

Ormerod saw her most significant action (23 minutes) since Dec. 2 versus Xavier. The senior guard has been limited in practice and games by a nagging left foot injury from last season.

Her nine points were the second-most she's scored this season. She also grabbed three rebounds and handed out three assists.

Not so long ago, Kentucky had lost four games in a five-game stretch.

Coach Matthew Mitchell worried aloud about his team's confidence and its psyche.

It was hard for him to imagine that any coach, especially a fellow Southeastern Conference coach like Tom Collen, would ask his players to emulate the Cats as the Arkansas boss did Sunday.

"We implored our kids: 'We have to play aggressively like they do. We have to take it aggressively at them,' " Collen said of his discussions during timeouts.

It was that aggression and strength that got UK through some rough patches and led it to a 72-63 win over the Razorbacks in front of a season-high 5,570 fans in Memorial Coliseum.

"They stayed aggressive," Collen said. "The strength of Kentucky's game is their aggressiveness and their two post kids. They really take it at you."

Those sentences wouldn't have been uttered about Kentucky a month ago.

In the middle of December, UK was shooting 34.6 percent from the field and 23.2 percent from the three-point line.

In film sessions, Collen has seen Kentucky (11-6, 1-1 SEC) become a different team.

"Before, they were the type of team that just threw the ball up and went and got the offensive rebound," Collen said. "They couldn't make shots, and they didn't care. ... But they are stepping up now."

Since its loss to Louisville on Dec. 14, Kentucky is shooting 42 percent from the field and 39.3 percent from beyond the arc.

In that span, the Cats have gone 6-1 with the lone loss coming at Tennessee on Thursday.

"They were good players when we were in a slump," Mitchell said of his players. "I knew they were good players then, and now they're playing up to their capability. ... This team has a lot of confidence right now, and they should. They're finding ways to win the game."

On Sunday, Kentucky blew open a 34-34 tie game by scoring 14 unanswered early in the second half. The Cats' two-three zone kept Arkansas scoreless for seven-plus minutes and forced the Razorbacks into nine turnovers.

During that 14-0 run, five players scored for Kentucky. That balance translated over to the final stat sheet, with five players finishing with nine points or better.

Amani Franklin led the way with 16 points and five rebounds. Victoria Dunlap added 15 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots despite playing only 29 minutes with foul trouble. Carly Morrow had 13 points and three steals.

"It's just confidence," Franklin said of UK's recent scoring swagger. "We have to have that mentality that it's going to go in. ... Early on, if we missed our first shot, we assumed it wasn't a good shooting night."

It was shooting that got UK through a tough time when Arkansas (11-6, 0-2) started to make its move, using an 8-1 run to get within seven points.

Amber Smith and Franklin nailed back-to-back three-pointers, and Morrow threw in a third a minute later to make UK's lead more comfy again.

"We didn't mean to give them those shots, but we did, and they made them," Collen said of Kentucky, which hit eight three-pointers for the second straight game.

Then the Razorbacks took advantage of foul trouble for Dunlap and fellow post player Eleia Roddy and used a 9-0 run to get within six with 2:42 to play, but Kentucky made nine of 10 free throws to seal its win.

Lyndsay Harris paced Arkansas with 15 points. Charity Ford chipped in 14 points and Louisville native Ceira Ricketts 13.

"We overcame some adversity and played hard enough to win," Mitchell said. "We're thrilled, thrilled with this victory."

Guards Smith and Carly Ormerod also added nine points apiece for UK.

Ormerod saw her most significant action (23 minutes) since Dec. 2 versus Xavier. The senior guard has been limited in practice and games by a nagging left-foot injury from last season.

Her nine points were the second most she's scored this season. She also grabbed three rebounds and handed out three assists.

Schedule, results

Kentucky (11-6, 1-1)

Date Opponent Time/result

Nov. 5 x-KY. STATE W, 99-28

Nov. 9 x-BELLARMINE W, 72-69

Nov. 15 MICHIGAN L, 70-60

Nov. 17 CINCINNATI W, 58-55

Nov. 23 GEORGE WASHINGTON W, 67-48

Nov. 28 a-Yale W, 87-82

Nov. 29 a-Long Island W, 46-43

Dec. 2 at Xavier L, 67-40

Dec. 4 at Western Kentucky L, 66-57

Dec. 6 FURMAN W, 74-35

Dec. 12 EAST TENNESSEE ST. L, 59-50

Dec. 14 at Louisville L, 79-50

Dec. 19 ALABAMA A&M W, 65-45

Dec. 21 at Cal-Santa Barbara W, 69-58

Dec. 30 IUPUI W, 82-60

Jan. 1 NORTH CAROLINA A&T W, 72-63

Jan. 3 at Miami (Ohio) W, 80-55

Jan. 8 at Tennessee L, 69-64

Jan. 11 ARKANSAS W, 72-63

Jan. 15 at Alabama 7 p.m.

Jan. 18 MISSISSIPPI ST. 4 p.m.

Jan. 25 LOUISIANA ST. 1 p.m.

Jan. 29 at Florida 7 p.m.

Feb. 1 at Mississippi 3 p.m.

Feb. 5 SOUTH CAROLINA 7 p.m.

Feb. 8 VANDERBILT 1 p.m.

Feb. 12 at Auburn 7 p.m.

Feb. 19 TENNESSEE 7 p.m.

Feb. 22 at Louisiana St. 3 p.m.

Feb. 26 GEORGIA 7 p.m.

March 1 at South Carolina 3 p.m.

x-exhibition; a-Long Island Turkey Classic at Brooklyn, N.Y.

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