UK Women's Basketball

Mark Story: UK women outdoing the men over four-game stretch

Kentucky Samantha Drake (#31) and Florida Deana Allen (#12) got tangled up in the second half of the game at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Ky.  Kentucky won 57-52. Sunday January 22, ©2012.  Photo by Joseph Rey Au
Kentucky Samantha Drake (#31) and Florida Deana Allen (#12) got tangled up in the second half of the game at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky won 57-52. Sunday January 22, ©2012. Photo by Joseph Rey Au

Fast-break points from the hip, new thing — silent movies:

21. Kentucky Wildcats basketball. The University of Kentucky men carry the No. 1 ranking in the country — yet they have not supplied the most impressive stretch of basketball by a UK hoops team this season.

20. Kentucky women. Has any college basketball team in the country put together a more impressive four-game stretch than Matthew Mitchell's crew has compiled in its most recent quartet of contests?

19. One. UK snapped the 36-game Southeastern Conference winning streak of Tennessee and did it after the No. 6 Lady Vols rallied from an 11-point, second-half deficit to take a three-point lead late — only to see the Cats refuse to buckle and pull out the game.

18. Two. Three days later, Kentucky went on the road to South Carolina, where UK had lost the past two seasons, and rallied from nine points down in the second half to beat the No. 24 Gamecocks.

17. Three. The UK women went on the road to No. 15 Georgia and rallied from 10 down in the second half to win against a team that beat the Cats twice last season.

16. Four. In a classic trap game at home against a good Florida team (13-7), Kentucky found a way to grind out a win on a day when UK hit 18 of 60 shots and its best player, A'dia Mathies, scored two points.

15. A championship season? Kentucky has never won the SEC regular-season women's basketball title (UK did win the 1982 league tournament). What the Cats' epic four-game stretch has done is give Mitchell and his team a viable chance to do so this season.

14. New men's bracketology. ESPN.com's new men's NCAA Tournament projections have Kentucky as the No. 1 seed in the South with No. 7 Murray State and No. 10 Louisville facing each other in the round of 64 in the same region.

13. Rick Pitino. One year after losing in a Big Dance upset to Morehead State, can you imagine how tight the Louisville coach would be if the Cards drew Murray as an early-round foe in 2012?

12. Undefeated Racers? If you are projecting potential trouble spots for Murray State in its bid to complete an undefeated regular season, road games at Southeast Missouri (Feb. 15) and Tennessee Tech (Feb. 25) look testy. A home date in the ESPNU BracketBuster against a foe that has yet to be announced is a wild card.

11. The Kentucky effect? Some NBA players from UK were firing scuds from the foul line Monday night. Ex-Cat Patrick Patterson (Rockets) shot 1-for-4; Brandon Knight (Pistons) was 2-for-5; DeMarcus Cousins (Kings) went a horrid 4-for-10.

10. Joe B. Hall Classic. Went as a fan to Montgtomery County Saturday to see the all-day high school hoops festival that promoter Ira Combs puts on each year. For reasons good and bad, this had to be one of the most interesting high school hoops showcases we've had in these parts in a long while.

9. Derek Willis. The new UK commitment from Bullitt East did not shoot well (6-for-16, 0-for-4 three-pointers) but, at 6-foot-9, the junior showed impressive ball skills and has the frame to put on muscle.

8. More Willis. His best moment against Rowan County came when he got a rebound, led the fast break himself, went behind his back on the dribble to avoid a defender, came to a full jump stop at the foul line and then hit a teammate with a perfect pass for a layup.

7. Mystery man. Jaysean Paige, an electric senior guard who transferred to Perry Central after playing last season in Jamestown, N.Y., looked as if he could be the best senior player in Kentucky while putting 32 points on Ashland.

6. Madison Central. Forget for a moment the controversial ending in what became the Indians' one-point upset win over No. 1 Trinity. It was the way that Allen Feldhaus Jr.'s team played (especially junior guards Kenjah Bosley and Dominique Hawkins) leading up to the game's final minute that stamped Central as a threat to do big damage in March.

5. Louisville Trinity. Had every reason to feel it got hosed on the foul called on the Shamrocks on an attempted Madison Central lob with one-tenth of a second left in what was a tie game. My immediate thought was that the Rocks will use that moment as motivation to galvanize a state-championship run.

4. New York Giants. If you're looking for a local reason to root in Super Bowl XLVI, you won't find it in Gotham. There are no players with Kentucky ties on the Giants roster.

3. New England Patriots. Instead, look to the Men of Belichick. The Pats have ex-Louisville star Deion Branch (wide receiver), ex-Eastern Kentucky standout Antwaun Molden (cornerback) and former Elizabethtown High School star (and Alabama player) Brandon Deaderick (defensive end) on the active roster.

(ESPN.com reported earlier this month that ex-UK quarterback Mike Hartline has signed a contract with New England for next season.)

2. 'Pryor' restraint. Ex-Kentucky defensive lineman Myron Pryor, a product of Louisville Eastern High School, is on New England's injured reserve list after suffering a shoulder injury in September.

1. Super Bowl dream dashed. The game every player dreams of being a part of is being contested (in Indianapolis) two hours from Pryor's hometown; his team made it — and yet he will not get to play.

Something is almost cruel about that.

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