UK Women's Basketball

UK women focus on next foe, not SEC title scenarios

Kentucky's A'dia Mathies, grabbing a rebound over South Carolina's Tina Roy, is averaging 15.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists.
Kentucky's A'dia Mathies, grabbing a rebound over South Carolina's Tina Roy, is averaging 15.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists. Herald-Leader

Want to drive a basketball coach a little bit nuts near the end of the season?

Ask him about any game beyond the next game.

For No. 9 Kentucky, one game back in its quest to win a second straight Southeastern Conference championship, there are four games left.

The Cats start the trek at No. 11 Texas A&M on Monday and end it the first weekend of March by hosting No. 12 Tennessee. Those two teams are tied for first place in the league. They also have yet to play each other. So much is at stake for all involved.

But don't talk scenarios and what-ifs with UK Coach Matthew Mitchell.

"There's so much that can happen," he said. "I will drive myself crazy sometimes trying to predict those things. I try and catch myself and realize that that's a waste of energy, but we're only human. We're just competitive and we want to win."

Make no mistake, Mitchell and his team want to win another SEC title and maybe a tournament title this time, too.

"It's just going to be a grind," he said. "You just have to put everything into the game and just see where you are at the end."

Mitchell's players said the coaches, in private, probably talk about SEC title scenarios more than they do. In fact, two of his guards said there's no "what if" game with them, just a "next game" scenario.

"You can't be like, 'We need to do this because we want to be No. 1,'" sophomore point guard Jennifer O'Neill said. "You don't want to think too far ahead because you have so much to go before you get there."

The first major roadblock comes on Monday night against Texas A&M on ESPN2 as a part of the Big Monday series. The Cats and Aggies are the undercard for a showdown between No. 1 Baylor and No. 3 Connecticut.

Kentucky's coaches and players know their game is huge, too. An SEC title might end up being at stake, even if they won't talk about it.

"It's a big game," Mitchell said. "It's two of the best teams in the country, two of the best teams certainly in our league and it'll be a tremendous matchup."

The Aggies' only conference loss this season came nine games ago at Kentucky, which erased a nine-point deficit in the first half to win at Memorial Coliseum.

Texas A&M (20-5, 10-1 SEC) has only improved since that 65-62 loss. The Aggies lead the league in field-goal percentage (46.7 percent) and three-point percentage (38.3). They also are first in assists per game (17.4) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.12).

The Aggies have perhaps the most dominant player in the league in Kelsey Bone, a 6-foot-5 center. In her last 15 games, Bone has averaged 19.5 points and 10.5 rebounds with 10 double-doubles.

In the last matchup, Texas A&M got many easy baskets, especially early in the game. Having that game tape to watch will be helpful as UK (22-3, 10-2) heads to College Station, Texas.

"We need to make them work harder to score," Mitchell said. "It'll be a real tough game and our team will have to prepare well and be real sharp in order to get the victory."



Starters: A'dia Mathies, 5-9, Sr., G (15.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.4 apg); Kastine Evans, 5-9, Jr., G (4.2 ppg, 1.8 rpg); Jennifer O'Neill, 5-6, So., G (10.2 ppg; 2.2 rpg, 2.5 apg); Samarie Walker, 6-1, Jr., F (9.5 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 2.0 spg); DeNesha Stallworth, 6-3, Jr., F (12.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.5 apg).

Key reserves: Bria Goss, 5-10, So., G (9.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg); Bernisha Pinkett, 5-7, Jr., G (3.8 ppg, 1.8 rpg); Janee Thompson, 5-6, Fr., PG (3.9 ppg); Azia Bishop, 6-3, So., F (3.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg); Samantha Drake, 6-3, Jr., F (2.5 ppg, 1.3 rpg); Brittany Henderson, 6-2, Sr., F (1.2 ppg, 2.8 rpg); Jalleah Sydney, 6-2, So., F (1.8 ppg).


Starters: Courtney Walker, 5-8, Fr., G (10.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg); Adrienne Pratcher, 5-7, Sr., G (8.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 4.5 apg); Courtney Williams, 6-1, Fr., F (5.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg); Kristi Bellock, 6-1, Sr., F (9.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg); Kelsey Bone, 6-4, Jr., C (17.1 ppg, 9.7 rpg).

Key reserves: Tori Scott, 5-10, So., G (3.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg); Peyton Little, 5-11, Fr., G (5.7 ppg, 1.5 rpg); Jordan Jones, 5-6, Fr., G (3.1 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 2.4 apg); Karla Gilbert, 6-5, Jr., C (5.6 ppg, 3.7 rpg).

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