UK Women's Basketball

UK women's notes: Tough matchups with No. 7 Duke and No. 3 Notre Dame still ahead

Kentucky head coach Matthew Mitchell talked to his team in the second half of the game against Louisville at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington Sunday Dec. 4, 2011.  Photo by Joseph Rey Au
Kentucky head coach Matthew Mitchell talked to his team in the second half of the game against Louisville at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington Sunday Dec. 4, 2011. Photo by Joseph Rey Au

Up until Sunday, Kentucky's coach wasn't sure how his team would measure up against a top-25 opponent.

Coming into the game with No. 10 Louisville, the Cats had blown by seven straight foes by an average of 36 points.

Matthew Mitchell worried aloud about how No. 12 UK would respond to a big game against a big-time opponent.

Did Kentucky have enough depth and enough toughness?

His players had more faith than their coach.

"There was no doubt in our minds what we could do" against a top-10 team, point guard Amber Smith said. "I have great teammates, and we show up. It doesn't matter who the competition is, we show up."

Mitchell sure hopes so because the Cats have little time to celebrate a 20-point win over Louisville before meeting up with No. 7 Duke on Thursday night at Rupp Arena.

"The scheduling genius that I am, we'll just get to enjoy this for a few hours and then turn our focus on Duke," Mitchell said. "We don't have a lot of time to stop and smell the roses on this one."

The schedule gets more brutal 10 days later, when UK goes on the road to face No. 3 Notre Dame.

One advantage Mitchell hoped his team would have over a top opponent was depth. Coming into the game against Louisville, UK had 10 players averaging 15 minutes or more a game.

Only one Kentucky player (A'dia Mathies) averaged more than 24 minutes a game.

But Mitchell wasn't sure the deep bench would carry over against Louisville.

"We hadn't played in a game where I could tell if we had quality depth or not," he said.

Turns out, they did.

Against the Cardinals, UK had nine players play nine minutes or more. Eight players scored at least four points.

Smith said it's still early in the season with loads of top-25 teams left on the schedule to play, but the fifth-year senior likes what she's seeing so far from her teammates.

"We have a chance to be great," Smith said. "The best team that I've played on."

Mathies' moment

Junior A'dia Mathies has never been one to seek out the spotlight, but she seems to find a way to shine on the biggest stages.

So Mitchell wasn't surprised to see the Louisville native put on a show against her hometown team on Sunday. The guard's effort included a game-high 20 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals. Her four three-pointers were a new career high.

"A'dia was really focused today, and she's a good player; that was clear to everyone in the building," Mitchell said. "I don't think there's any doubt she sensed this was a big game — a big rivalry — and she was tremendously focused."

Turnover turnabout

It wasn't the prettiest of games for either team; they combined for 52 turnovers.

But UK's coaches and players didn't seem too concerned about their 26 miscues that led to 25 U of L points.

Mathies, who coughed it up nine times, said the miscues were a part of the intensity level of the game.

"We wanted to have a fast-paced game and then let go of any turnovers that we did make," she said. "It just showed how aggressive we were. We weren't going to stop pushing the ball and playing intense and when you do that, you're going to make turnovers."

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