Jen Smith on Basketball

Cats hopeful ‘tough cookie’ Thompson will play

Janee Thompson is down with an ankle injury, but don’t count her out for Kentucky’s big game against Tennessee on Monday night at Memorial Coliseum.

The senior guard, who sprained her left ankle late in the loss at Ole Miss, is still listed as questionable for Monday, but teammates and her head coach seemed optimistic that she’d be available.

“Janee is a really tough cookie and I would be counting on her being in if I had to bet right now, I would say she would play, just knowing her,” Coach Matthew Mitchell said on Sunday as he previewed the game against the No. 18 Lady Vols. “She is really, really tough.”

Ninth-ranked Kentucky practiced after the media availability on Sunday afternoon and he said Thompson’s status would be determined after that.

Junior guard Makayla Epps said the senior leader has been working hard to get back.

“She’s getting a lot of treatment,” Epps said of Thompson, who is averaging 32.9 minutes a game and is second on the team in scoring and leads the Cats in assists. “Nobody really knows about tomorrow, but I say she’ll be out there. I haven’t even thought about her not being out there, but it I had to, we would just play hard for her. That’s the type of team we are.”

Kentucky has had some experience playing for Thompson, who missed almost the entire Southeastern Conference schedule of games after breaking her fibula and tearing up her left ankle in an injury at South Carolina.

Thompson had surgery on the same leg at around this time last season. Mitchell said doctors have told him that the current sprain has done nothing to derail her progress.

“It was great news that nothing was broken and everything looks good on the x-rays,” Mitchell said. “So for now, it is just a painful sprain and we would list her as questionable. She is not ruled out of the game, but she is not in it yet either. We will see what happens.”

If Thompson is unable to play, then Kentucky will be down to three available guards in Epps and freshmen Maci Morris and Taylor Murray.