UK Women's Basketball

UK women get first chance to defend ranking

The Kentucky women's basketball team has a shiny, new top 25 ranking, its first since 2006. When the Cats put it on display Thursday night in Memorial Coliseum, they'd sure hate to scratch, dent or damage it in any way.

"It's an important game for us," Kentucky Coach Matthew Mitchell said Wednesday. "It looks like every game in the SEC is going to be critical. It looks like the way the conference is being played right now that road wins are going to be hard to come by, so playing well at home and winning your home games is going to be very important."

Kentucky (14-3, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) debuted at No. 25 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll Tuesday. The Cats will be looking for their 13th consecutive win in Memorial Coliseum when Arkansas (8-10, 0-5) visits Thursday.

"Our team understands what the formula to success is," Mitchell said. "We're going to have to play very tough, solid defense against Arkansas. I know Arkansas will come in here hungry for a win."

The Razorbacks, led by former Louisville coach Tom Collen, arrive in Lexington looking for their first conference win and their first road win of the season.

"We didn't come into conference play with a lot of confidence and momentum," Collen said. "Talent-wise we're OK, but we lack some confidence."

■ Before Thursday's game, the UK women will honor former Kentucky football coach Rick Brooks and his wife, Karen, for their support of the program.

"Rich Brooks is a man that has always supported our women's basketball team, and we wanted to honor Coach Brooks with the game ball from our win over Vanderbilt," Mitchell said. "He is a man that means a lot to our team and means a lot to me personally. He has been a great example for me and has always exhibited what we are all about: honesty, hard work and discipline."