UK Women's Basketball

First loss a learning experience for Cats

Even though the school semester is over, there have been plenty of teachable moments for the Kentucky women's basketball team this week.

The Cats were flying high with an 11-0 record, a program-best start and plenty of other accolades until they fell at Middle Tennessee on Monday night.

But game film is a good teaching tool and there was plenty to discuss, Coach Matthew Mitchell said.

"It's great for us to learn from," Mitchell said of the loss. "It's a good reality check for our team to know that although we've had some success here, we're not going to out-talent a lot of people. We're going to have to play as a team and play with a lot of enthusiasm and energy and effort."

Mitchell had a few educational moments of his own while watching film of the game, in which UK had a season-high 29 turnovers against the Raiders' soft press.

He took part of the blame on that, saying he didn't have UK as prepared as he would have liked for the sagging defense that it saw.

"I kept thinking we could make plays and I should have done a better job of making adjustments," Mitchell said. "I told the players I'll do better the next time we face something like that, and I think they'll do better next time."

He sent his team a similar message in many of this week's practices.

"I tried to come back to practice saying, 'Let's learn from the mistakes we made and be better Friday than we were on Monday,'" Mitchell said.

Kentucky has one more game to get better before it heads to ninth-ranked Georgia to begin the new, even more grueling 16-game Southeastern Conference schedule.

Previously, women's SEC teams played only 14 conference games.

After returning from Georgia, UK will host No. 18 Vanderbilt.

The Cats' next opponent should help start the new year off right.

They will take on Mississippi Valley State, which most recently lost to Tennessee-Martin, a team UK beat by 40 points on Dec. 22. The Devilettes are 3-7 and haven't won any of their seven road games so far.

Sophomore guard Ka'Neshia Smith is Mississippi Valley State's leading scorer and rebounder, averaging 10.6 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.

When UK played the Devilettes in 2006, the Cats won 84-37.