Women's Basketball
No. 16 Kentucky Begins SEC Play Thursday vs. Vanderbilt

No. 16 Kentucky Begins SEC Play Thursday vs. Vanderbilt

by Evan Crane

LEXINGTON, Ky. – After a strong performance during the non-conference portion of the 2018-19 schedule that saw the Wildcats grab 13 wins and move into the top 20 nationally in both top-25 rankings, the No. 16 University of Kentucky women’s basketball team is set to begin Southeastern Conference play Thursday at 7 p.m. ET against Vanderbilt inside historic Memorial Coliseum.
Single-game tickets are $10 (all ages) in reserved seating areas, while general admission tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for children (ages 6-18) and seniors (age 65+). Young fans are encouraged to take advantage of the Kid Zone pregame with games, poster making stations, coloring stations and more. Nae Nae Cole is scheduled to sign autographs on the concourse following the game.
The game will be streamed on SEC Network+ with Jeff Piecoro and Christi Thomas on the call. The action can also be seen through WatchESPN on computers, smartphones or tablets. Darren Headrick will have the call on the UK Sports Network on 630 AM in Lexington. Live stats and free live audio will be available online at UKathletics.com.   
Spectator parking is located in all E-lots surrounding Memorial Coliseum and are off control 3 hours prior to tip. Additionally, the South Limestone Garage (PS#5) and the Rose Street Garage (PS#2) are available 2 hours prior to tip. With the Gatton Student Center lot and expansion of North Craft lot there are 238 additional parking spots for spectators this season around Memorial Coliseum. The Bill Gatton Student Center is available as a pay-to-park option. Availability is based on the Gatton Student Center Event Schedule.
The Lexington Parking Authority Transit Center Parking Garage, located between High Street and Vine Street is available for parking after 5 p.m. during the week and all day on the weekends. Additionally, a free shuttle service will pick up in the High Street lot beginning 2 hours prior to tip. UK Athletics Event Staff will be at the Transit Center Garage Entrance to assist with directing patrons to the correct shuttle pick-up location.
Parking is prohibited in any R (Residential) lots. Vehicles parking in R lots without a proper permit, along yellow curbs, grass spaces, or other non-specified and unapproved areas may be subject to ticket and/or tow. Disabled spectator parking is available with a valid, state issues disabled hangtag in the E lot North of the Craft Center. These spaces are available on a first-come, first-served basis until full.
Shuttles are available beginning 2 hours prior to tip off and pick up and drop off near the South Limestone Garage (PS#5) and near the Transit Center Parking Garage and High Street Lot. Shuttles will start back up after halftime to return guests to their parking areas, the shuttle will discontinue service 1-hour post-game.
Doors to Memorial Coliseum open 1.5 hours before tip and UK Athletics encourages women’s basketball fans to arrive early to ease traffic and parking congestion around the Coliseum. For more information on parking around Memorial Coliseum and other game-day questions visit UKathletics.com.
Kentucky (13-1) ended its non-conference portion of the schedule with 13 wins, marking the most in a season before Jan. 1 in program history. The 13-1 start ties the second best start under Mitchell. UK also started 13-1 in 2015-16 and 18-1 in 2012-13. UK has forced 334 turnovers this season averaging 23.9 turnovers forced per game and have scored 376 points off those miscues. The Cats +10.9 turnover margin is second in the nation. UK also ranks third in the nation and first in the SEC with 170 steals.
Three Wildcats are averaging 14 points or more per game this season paced by freshman guard Rhyne Howard at 17.6 points per game and a team-best 7.4 rebounds per game. Senior guards Maci Morris and Taylor Murray have been impressive, averaging 16.1 and 14.1 points per game, respectively. Morris has hit a team-best 37 3-pointers this season, while Murray leads UK with 61 assists and 50 steals.
Since SEC play began in the 1982-83 season, the Wildcats are 17-19 in SEC openers all-time, including 7-14 in SEC openers on the road. Kentucky is 23-13 all-time in SEC home openers, including a 8-3 mark under Matthew Mitchell.
Vanderbilt enters league play with 5-8 record, including a 4-2 mark at home, 1-3 record in true road games and 0-3 mark in neutral site games. The Commodores are coming off a 77-52 victory over Samford on Dec. 28 inside Memorial Gymnasium. Prior to the Samford win, VU had lost three straight games to Central Michigan, Miami (Fla.) and Creighton.
Redshirt junior forward Mariella Fasoula leads the Commodores this season averaging 17.6 points per game and a team-best 7.4 rebounds per game with 11 blocks. Sophomore guard Chelsie Hall and junior guard Cierra Walker are each averaging 11.8 points per game with Hall adding 35 assists while Walker has hit a team-best 34 3-pointers. Freshman forward Brinae Alexander is averaging 9.9 points per game and 4.2 rebounds per game while junior guard Kaleigh Clemons-Green has a team-best 41 assists and 18 steals.
As a team, Vanderbilt is averaging 66.6 points per game hitting 42.5 percent from the field and 30.7 percent from long range. The Commodores have a +2.8 rebounding margin and +1.8 turnover margin. VU ranks 13th nationally and third in the nation in fewest turnovers per game at 12.9.
Vanderbilt leads the all-time series in games played against Kentucky, 28-24. UK leads the all-time series in games played in Lexington, 12-11, while the Commodores own a 15-8 record in games played in Nashville. UK has won 11 of the last 13 meetings but Vandy won the lone meeting last season in Nashville, 70-55. Matthew Mitchell is 12-5 against Vanderbilt as a head coach at Kentucky. 
For more information on the Kentucky women’s basketball team, visit UKathletics.com or follow @KentuckyWBB on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, or Kentucky Women’s Basketball on Facebook.

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