LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 10/8 Kentucky women’s basketball team looks to get back on the winning track when it travels to Arkansas on Thursday, Feb. 7 for an 8 p.m. EST matchup with the Razorbacks in Bud Walton Arena. The game can be heard live on the UK IMG Sports Radio Network with Neil Price.
Fans can also follow the UK Hoops team on Twitter at @UKHoopCats and use #UKHoops to comment on the game.
A tough February awaits the defending Southeastern Conference champions as five of their last seven regular-season league games are on the road.
“We have a tough game ahead of us Thursday night in Fayetteville,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “It’s always a challenge to go against Arkansas. They’re very well-coached. They have always been tough to prepare for and this season’s no different. (It will) Be an important game for us to try to bounce back, get back on the winning track and we’ll certainly have to play well to do that.”
The Cats (19-3, 7-2 SEC), currently tied for second place in the SEC standings with Georgia and South Carolina, are coming off a tough 75-71 loss to No. 14/13 Georgia on Sunday in Lexington. Despite leading by eight points with 5:37 to play, Georgia outscored the Wildcats 16-4 in the final five minutes. UGA also shot 51.7 percent in the second half, while holding UK to just 35.5 percent. The loss snapped UK’s school-record home winning streak at 34, giving the Cats their first home loss since Feb. 7, 2011. Four players scored in double figures led by senior guard A’dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.) and redshirt sophomore point guard Jennifer O’Neill (Bronx, N.Y.) with 18 points apiece. Junior forward Samarie Walker (West Carrollton, Ohio) posted her second consecutive, seventh season and 10th career double-double with 10 points and a game-high 11 boards, while junior center DeNesha Stallworth (Richmond, Calif.) had 10 points, her 19th game this season in double figures. She also charted a career-high five steals and hit a career-high two 3-pointers.
Overall this season, Mathies leads UK and ranks second in the league (conference games only) in scoring, averaging 18.2 points per game. The preseason SEC Player of the Year currently ranks in the top 10 of 12 career lists at UK, including third in steals (286) and fourth in scoring (1,772).
In the front court, Stallworth and Walker are giving Kentucky a dynamic inside presence this season. The duo combine to average 22.7 points and 14.8 rebounds per game and both are shooting over 50 percent from the floor.
Mitchell is in his sixth season as the head coach of the Wildcats. He ranks third on UK’s all-time wins list with 133 and his winning percentage (.696) is first. He is just one win away from tying Sharon Fanning at No. 2 on the all-time wins list and five wins away from tying Terry Hall (138 wins from 1980-87) as the all-time winningest coach in UK Hoops history.
The Razorbacks are 15-7 overall and 3-6 in the SEC after splitting a pair of games in the Magnolia State last week. Arkansas opened with a win last Thursday at Ole Miss, marking just the second victory for the Razorbacks in Oxford in program history. Senior Sarah Watkins dropped in a career-best 28 points leading Arkansas to the win. The Razorbacks fell at Mississippi State despite a double-double from senior Quistelle Williams and 15 points from Watkins.
Overall, Watkins, a 6-foot-3 senior post player from Germantown, Tenn., leads three players in double-figure scoring, averaging 13.0 ppg. Keira Peak and Williams follow with 10.5 ppg apiece.
Tom Collen is in his sixth season at Arkansas. Previously the head coach of Colorado State and Louisville, Collen has a 108-73 (.597) record at Arkansas, and an overall coaching record of 325-143 (.694).
Thursday will mark the 30th meeting between the programs. UK leads the all-time series 16-13. However, the Wildcats trail 9-3 in road games vs. Arkansas. UK is looking for its first win in Bud Walton Arena since Feb. 7, 2010.
UK has won 10 of the last 11 meetings with Arkansas, including last year’s game in Lexington, 84-72. The lone loss in that stretch came on Jan. 6, 2011 in Fayetteville with the Razorbacks winning 78-67.