Women's Basketball
No. 16 Kentucky Hosts Ole Miss Sunday in Memorial Coliseum

No. 16 Kentucky Hosts Ole Miss Sunday in Memorial Coliseum

by Evan Crane

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Fresh off its incredible overall team performance at highly ranked Tennessee, the No. 16 University of Kentucky women’s basketball team returns home to continue league action Sunday against Ole Miss at 1 p.m. ET inside 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. LaShae Halsel is scheduled to sign autographs on the concourse following the game. While supplies last, free UK-themed rubber ducks will be handed out at the entrance of the Coliseum as Sunday is National Rubber Duck Day.
The game will be televised on the SEC Network with Tiffany Greene and LaChina Robinson 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 and 840 AM in Louisville. 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.
It was an overall team win for the Wildcats over No. 13 Tennessee on Thursday earning the program’s fourth ever win in Knoxville against the Lady Vols. With Taylor Murray only playing 16 minutes due to injury, Rhyne Howard playing 14 minutes due to foul trouble and Maci Morris fouling out with five minutes left, it was UK’s bench that scored 29 points and secured the win. UK shot 46.8 percent from the field and scored 22 points off 19 UT turnovers.
Kentucky (15-2, 2-1 SEC) led by 17 points in the first quarter before Morris and Howard missed most of the first half with two fouls and Murray got injured and did not return. The Lady Vols would mount a furious comeback, cutting the lead to two with just over a minute to go before junior guard Jaida Roper hit a clutch 3 with :55 left to all but seal the UK win. Roper finished with 10 points, three assists and one steal while fellow junior Ogechi Anyagaligbo came off the bench and scored a UK-career best 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting with three rebounds. Before she fouled out, Morris was fantastic scoring 27 points on 10-of-16 shooting including four 3s. She added three rebounds and three steals.
Three Wildcats are averaging 12 points or more per game this season paced by Morris who is averaging 16.8 points per game with a team-best 47 3-pointers. Howard is averaging 16.7 points per game with a team-best 6.9 rebounds per game, sitting third on the team with 46 assists and second with 39 steals. Murray is averaging 12.9 points per game and leads UK in assists and steals, while Roper is averaging 8.8 points per game and has hit 20 3s with 48 assists.
Ole Miss is in its first season under head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin who took over the program after a successful stint at Jacksonville University. The Rebels are 6-11 this season, including an 0-2 mark in true road games. Ole Miss has started 0-3 in conference play with at 78-55 loss at Missouri before back-to-back home losses to Arkansas (85-55) and LSU (55-41).
As a team, the Rebels are scoring 60.4 points per game and allowing teams to average 65.5 points per game. Ole Miss is hitting 39.5 percent from the field and 33.5 percent from long range with 5.3 3-pointers made per game. The young squad has a -2.8 turnover margin averaging 16.6 miscues per game while also holding a -1.6 rebounding margin. Senior guard Crystal Allen leads the team in scoring with 17.9 points per game, hitting a team-best 48 3-pointers with 41 assists and 17 steals. Senior guard Shandricka Sessom is averaging 9.8 points per game with a team-best 5.9 rebounds per game. Freshman Mimi Reid has a team-best 75 assists while junior Jhileiya Dunlap leads the team with 31 blocks and 21 steals.
Ole Miss leads the all-time series in games played against Kentucky 22-18, but UK leads the series in games played in Lexington, 10-8. The Wildcats have won eight of the last 10 meetings, including six straight in Lexington. UK’s last home loss at Ole Miss was on Jan. 14, 2007 when the Rebels claimed a 67-65 win in OT.
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.
Head Coach Matthew Mitchell
Opening statement …
“Tough game ahead versus Mississippi. They are athletic, they’re very versatile. They have one of the top scorers in the league, Crystal Allen, who is very explosive. Very versatile player. They’re athletic, they can rebound, which is something that we must improve. An area we really have to improve in is rebounding the basketball. And then, transition offense, they have multiple players who can bring the ball up the floor and really push their break. So, we got in really late last night. We’ve got to bounce back today with a spirited practice and excellent preparation. We’ve got to get our attention fully on Ole Miss and see if we can get a victory on Sunday, it’s an important day for us.”
On the team staying focused after a victory at Tennessee…
“Well, it’s very easy to keep their attention, you just have to stick with facts, you can’t stick with how you feel. You stick with the facts. Very proud, playing hard and winning the game, but there is plenty to talk about. So, we want to be humble and we want to exercise humility, and our definition of that is just having an accurate view of yourself, so you don’t over value yourself and you don’t undervalue yourself. And so, we have a lot of confidence that we’re good enough to win games, but we also understand that you can’t expect to win a lot of games by getting out-rebounded and being dominated on the boards like we did yesterday. So, we’ve got to stay firmly in the facts of where we are as a basketball team. Listen, it is so much better to win than lose and we’ve got to win these SEC games, and it is very important to get that done. So, real proud of the team. They know we’re real proud of them and how important that victory was, because Tennessee is so talented and it is always tough to win down there. So, we’re very happy about it and excited about it. But, we will stick with the process we’ve had all year. We will deal with that game in our meeting before practice, and we will talk about all of the areas we praise the players and all of the areas where we need to see progress. Then, we’ll put that one to bed and we will quickly move on to Mississippi. So, that is what has worked for us so far this year, is sticking with the facts and being eager for progress each day. We understand that we are a good team, but we’ve got areas we need to improve.”
On an injury update for Taylor Murray…
“Good news on Taylor, it’s a patellar bone bruise, so she is day-to-day. We will get her moving today on the bike. No ligament damage, everything is intact. So, that’s a real blessing for our basketball team. We are thankful for that. She will get moving today and then it is literally day-to-day – how does she feel tomorrow, how does she feel Sunday, and so on. That is what we’ll do. She is a tough, tough kid. She wants to win. We would not be the team that we are right now without Taylor Murray, so we have so much confidence in Courtney Jones and our medical team. They’ll do a great job and Taylor will do everything she needs to do, and we’ll continue to update daily on her progress. She landed right down on the floor, was up in the air and she landed right down on that knee. That bone took the brunt of the impact, so it’s a bruise and we’re thankful that it is not ligaments.”
On bench players stepping up while Rhyne Howard, Maci Morris and Taylor Murray were out…
“Yeah, there was a sequence there where KeKe McKinney rebounded twice in one possession and got it to Ogechi Anyagaligbo who made a 15-footer and we needed that bucket. When you look at how we won by two points, you think about how all these plays are so big. Amanda Paschal missed a layup, didn’t hang her head and immediately tied the ball up. Jaida’s (Roper) 3 was the real dagger I think in the game and it was a tough shot, contested by their center who, I think, she got in the switch and she got the courage to make that shot. So, it says a lot about our resilience and that is something that we try to teach these players and talk about in our program. These things benefit them now, they benefited them last night, and we believe those things can benefit them 10 years from now. So, the experience that they’re getting as a team and coming together, they are high character kids and they really fought hard to win that one last night. We were just trying to hang on there at the end and we did more than that. We were courageous and had to go make something happen, and that’s something that we talked about. So, proud of the team and a meaningful victory, as they all are in this league. It is hard to win in this league. Especially on the road. So, we need to build on it though. We’ve got to get better, we’ve got to start rebounding the ball better. As much effort as we give at forcing turnovers and pushing the pace, for whatever reason, it is not showing up in our effort on the boards. It is not like we’re just doing a great job and people are jumping over us and there is nothing we can do about it… we can do better, we must be better, and that will be a real focus in practice today.”
On what Ogechi Anyagaligbo can bring –  rebounding and offensively – going forward…
“Well, Ogechi has a lot of strength and a lot of length. She’s not real tall, but she’s got long arms and she’s got a real strong base. So, she can play physical. She’s a strong player and she has excellent timing. She’s able to block shots and she’s able to get rebounds. I really feel like Ogechi found her footing over the last seven to 10 days. She was really kind of down in the dumps about how things were going. She didn’t feel great. She said she was lacking confidence, and we really had to get an attitude adjustment there, and to her credit, she has adjusted. She has just been a more dynamic player. She was tough and dynamic in Starkville, and last night she showed you what she’s capable of and she still missed a few box outs that she needs to get. She’s got to get those box outs as you know, we all do. But, she was a big help to us because she’s strong. She’s physical and she can go to battle in the paint there, with some taller bigger players that have size. But, she’s got some strength and a really, really high IQ. So, when she plays like that, it makes a big difference for our team. So, we need her to continue to play well. She’s got to keep her focus in the positive and get her job done.”
On the specific coaching points for rebounding and how to attack them in practice…
“Well, a lot of it is before the shot goes up. You know, we’ve got to improve our defensive positioning and our awareness. We have to be ready for when the shot goes up. We have to immediately get into rebounding mode. You know, the shot goes up and we’ve got a second-and-a-half of relaxation there and we’re the kind of team that can’t always do that. We just cannot jump and go get balls. We’ve got to get our body on somebody. So, that’s a coaching point that I as the head coach and the assistant coaches have to do a better job. We have to coach them better, we’ve got to make it more important. We’ve got to get this point across somehow that, we’ve talked about it, but we have not done a good enough job. We’ve talked about, but now we have to go and do it. And that’s very important for us right now. I’ll tell you, Ole Miss has some great athletes that want to win and are hungry for a win, and I would say are licking their chops to come in here and try to get on boards and take advantage of that. We’ve got to improve today. We can’t wait around, it’s got to happen. We’ve got to start getting better today and we’ll do that at the start of practice.”
On Rhyne Howard’s foul trouble…
“It’s just another great, great opportunity for her to learn. What’s happened with Rhyne is she had a great start to her season, a lot of notoriety. People know who you are now. They’re sitting in their locker room and they’re presenting Kentucky to their team and the first player they’re talking about is Rhyne Howard, so everyone who is on the court knows you’re a good player. And, so now it is the process of marrying talent with some mental focus and some technique. And, you just can’t get by with poor technique in this league. You’ve got to get low, you’ve got to use angles, you’ve got to use proper technique… all things that she is capable of doing and she will do. Just another great learning lesson. Let me tell you something, we won the game by two points. She scored six, was our leading rebounder and she made one of the most incredible hustle plays that saved two points for her. So, my message to that was you played great. You’re fine. The reason you fouled is because you’re standing straight up and you’re not using proper technique, and it is as simple as that. So, you’re not a bad player, you’re not a bad person, you’re just not using the right technique. So, get back to the facts, get out of your feelings, and go back to the feelings of correcting and have the courage to make it happen. So, she’s already an incredible player and she will learn from these experiences.”
On relying on Maci Morris’ scoring, sometimes at will…
“It does not surprise me and we have come to rely on it. I have nothing to add there (laughter).”


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