Women's Basketball
No. 14 Kentucky Welcomes No. 1 South Carolina for Play4Kay Pink Game Sunday

No. 14 Kentucky Welcomes No. 1 South Carolina for Play4Kay Pink Game Sunday

by Evan Crane

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Coming off its best offensive performance of the season Thursday when it scored a season-high 94 points at Ole Miss, the No. 14 University of Kentucky women’s basketball team looks to continue its impressive play Sunday as it plays host to No. 1 South Carolina at 2 p.m. ET inside Memorial Coliseum.
Sunday’s game will be UK’s annual Play4Kay Pink Game to help raise awareness and support cancer research. Fans are encouraged to pick up “I Fight For” cards when they enter Memorial Coliseum on Sunday and write a name of someone they are supporting in a fight against cancer. In the first quarter, the entire arena will stand and hold up their “I Fight For” cards as a sign of unity to all those battling cancer that they are not alone in this fight.
General admission tickets are available online at ticketmaster.com for just $3 using the promo code Play4Kay. Children aged 5 and under do not require a ticket in general admission areas. Young fans are encouraged to take advantage of the Kid Zone pregame with games, poster making stations, coloring stations and more. Junior forward KeKe McKinney is scheduled to sign autographs on the concourse following the game.
The game vs. South Carolina will be broadcast on ESPN2 with Courtney Lyle and Carolyn Peck 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 630AM WLAP 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. The Bill Gatton Student Center is available as a pay-to-park option. Availability is based on the Gatton Student Center Event Schedule.
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 the 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.
Kentucky (20-5, 9-4 SEC) is coming off a 94-52 win at Ole Miss on Thursday. The impressive offensive performance was UK’s season-high in points while the Wildcats hit 11 3-pointers and have now hit 10 or more 3s in 12 games this season. Sophomore guard Rhyne Howard led Kentucky with 21 points and seven rebounds while five Wildcats total scored in double figures for the third time this season. Senior guard Sabrina Haines and junior guard Chasity Patterson each scored 15 points in the game while senior guard Jaida Roper and sophomore guard Blair Green each had 10 points. The Wildcats hit 50.7 percent from the field and 47.8 percent from long range in the game while the Rebels hit just 31.9 percent from the field. UK forced 21 turnovers and had a +14 rebounding margin in the game.
Howard leads UK and nearly the entire country in scoring this season sitting second nationally at 23.1 points per game. The sophomore is also averaging a team-best 6.4 rebounds per game while leading UK with 54 steals and 66 3s made. Patterson is second on the team with 13.1 points per game adding 22 assists and 22 steals, while Haines is the third Wildcat averaging double figures at 10.4 points per game. Haines ranks high nationally in 3-point field-goal percentage at 42.0 percent.
South Carolina enters Sunday’s game ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press Top 25 and USA Today/Coaches Top 25. The Gamecocks have won 20 straight games after sustain their only loss of the season to then-No. 17/23 Indiana in the 2019 Paradise Jam. South Carolina is 10-0 in road games this season and currently boast a perfect 13-0 league record. As a team, the Gamecocks are averaging 82.4 points per game this season hitting 47.0 percent from the field and 36.0 percent from long range. South Carolina is limiting teams to 55.3 points per game and just 33.1 percent from the field and 29.8 percent from long range. SC has a +12.5 rebounding margin and +2.8 turnover margin this season.
Senior forward Mikiah Herbert Harrigan is averaging 12.6 points per game this season adding 5.6 rebounds per game, while freshman post Aliyah Boston is averaging 13.2 points per game with a team-best 9.0 rebounds per game and 75 blocks. Senior guard Tyasha Harris is averaging 12.0 points per game with a team-best 147 assists while freshman guard Zia Cooke is the final Gamecock in double figures with 12.0 points per game.
Kentucky leads the all-time series in games played against South Carolina 34-32, including a 20-10 record in games played in Lexington although South Carolina has won four straight in Lexington. The two teams met earlier this season with South Carolina earning a 99-72 victory in Columbia. Overall, South Carolina has won seven of the last nine meetings in the series.
For more information on the Kentucky women’s basketball team, visit UKathletics.com or follow @KentuckyWBB on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell
Opening statement…
“Well, big game for us on Sunday. South Carolina has such a talented and tough team. They have great size and athleticism and skill. We will have to work hard to prepare well and I know the team is excited for the opportunity.”
On lessons learned from the game in Columbia …
“The first thing is that we have to compete much harder. That was a really disappointing night for us and South Carolina has shown throughout the entirety of the conference season up to this point that they are an excellent team and they played fantastic that night and have continued to do that. We did not take care of the things that we can control in our effort and our energy. We were not very tough that night. That was a big compliment that I would pay the team is that we worked hard after that to address those issues and didn’t run from those and I think we have toughened up since then. I think the thing that we have to do is bring the proper competitive spirit to the game and do all the little things that we have to do to win a basketball game no matter who we are playing. We didn’t come close to that kind of level the first game. That will be a focus for us in our preparation that we have to present ourselves to the game the right way and I know the team will be motivated to get that done.”
On the slow start last night …
“As a coach, you wish you could avoid those things. We had a super big win on Sunday and no matter how many times you try to tell the team to understand this is a dangerous team they are looking at the record and it is a challenge this time of year with young people. Any coach that can tell you exactly how to crack that code please give me their number because it was disappointing to come out that way but the great thing about it is that every victory just counts one. No matter how you get it, you just have to go get the win. That was very important that we did that. I wish we would have played a little bit better when we had a big lead in the game and all those things that you are trying to do as a coach to drive your team to be their best but overall I am just glad the team got it together and really went on a great run there the rest of the first half and so we would like to avoid calling those early timeouts but you have to coach the game that you are in and that is what we had to do last night.”
On his relationship with Dawn Staley …
“I think it starts with the utmost respect for Dawn and you start with the impact that she has had on our game and women’s basketball. She is one of the greatest players of all time and I don’t know if you see it a whole lot but a truly great player – like one of the best all-time – becomes one of the top coaches in the profession. A lot of times you see that some great players can’t relate to teams and can’t get it done. But she was a great player and is at the absolute top of our profession as a coach. She is our Olympic coach and national coach. I just have tremendous respect for her. I think through all of our battles through the years we have come to know that it is going to be a tough game generally and they know we are going to work hard and we know they are too. So I think it is just respect and I think she is one of the top coaches we have and I am really, really impressed with the team she has put together this year. It is very impressive.”
On what makes South Carolina so dangerous …
“They are very deep, really deep. Aliyah Boston is playing at a really high level and she is hard to match up with but she is just one of many really big, physical, skilled, athletic post presences they have. When they go to their bench they come with just tremendous size and athleticism to replace Boston, who is one of the best post players in the league. I think their post players coming off the bench are some of the best too. They are really, really talented in the post and then their guards have this great combination of athleticism and speed and skill. They shoot the ball well. You try to find the weaknesses in the team – they are shooting the 3 really well and can shoot mid-range jumpers or get to the rim – they are just a complete team. And Dawn has them playing extremely hard. If you are really talented and play really hard, it is a lethal combination. I think the situation differs from last year to this year. Boston has really taken them to a different level and then some of their young post players have really developed over the last year and their returners are playing great. Mikiah Herbert Harrigan is really dynamic and can block shots and effect the game. Ty Harris is one of the best point guards in the league and does a great job running them team and their freshman guards are really dynamic. So they are really talented and a tough team.”
On importance of a good crowd …
“I thought last Sunday vs. Mississippi State, which was a big game for us and we needed a win, same thing this Sunday because we need every win we can get and this obviously would be helpful in so many ways in the conference race and national landscape. It thought the energy in the Coliseum was very helpful and extremely powerful last Sunday. I am telling you, in a game like this we want to play as hard as you can and when you have a big crowd behind you that enables you to fuel your enthusiasm. They can be a big part of a big win and can help us in a very significant way and we would really like for a big crowd to come out Sunday afternoon. It will be a good game.”
On what he tells Rhyne to protect her hand …
“No, the hand is real stable in the brace and we are just working until we can get out of that but she has to go play. She is in good shape and it is secure and sound. If she was in harm’s way, we wouldn’t play her. It is like any other player, anytime you stick you hand in there and go after the ball there is no guarantees you are going to come out of there intact. You have to just go play the game. She has done a remarkable job because it is hard to play with your hand bandaged up and braced. She is doing a good job with it. I think that South Carolina will be very aggressive. They were very aggressive in the first game so she has to be smart in the positions she gets herself in. The thing that is key is she is shooting the ball well and defending the ball well. She made some incredible defensive plays last night. I mean, it was amazing a couple of the defensive plays she made. So really there are times when she has the ball in her left hand where we are really looking forward to when that brace comes off is just more mobility with that left hand as far as ball handling goes. She is playing at a high level in all areas. She got some good rebounds last night. She stole the ball five times. She is a good player and she is doing a good job in what is not an optimal circumstance.”

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