Basketball

UK Hoops Start 42nd Season Friday vs. Rice

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Kentucky women’s basketball team hosts season opener vs. Rice on Friday at 7 p.m. ET

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Kentucky women’s basketball team will open its 42nd season of varsity basketball on Friday when it plays host to Rice at 7 p.m. ET in Memorial Coliseum. The game will serve as both the season and home opener for UK Hoops, who have won six consecutive home openers in Memorial Coliseum.

Season tickets and single-game tickets for the 2015-16 season are on sale now through Ticketmaster. Season tickets (including Rupp Arena games) are available for $65 online at UKathletics.com/tickets or by calling the UK Ticket Office at (859) 257-1818 or (800) 928-2287. Single-game reserved tickets are $9 for all ages, while adult general admission single-game tickets are $8.  For those aged 6-18 or 65-and-over, general admission costs are $5 per ticket.  Children age five-and-under are admitted free in the general admission seating area, and UK students, faculty and staff are admitted free with valid identification.

The game will be live streamed on the SEC Network+ with Jeff Piecoro and Christi Thomas calling the action. SEC Network+ is available through WatchESPN. The game can also be heard live on the UK Sports Radio Network with Neil Price calling the action for the 11th consecutive season. Fans in Lexington can hear Price’s call on Fox Sports 1580AM.

Complete parking information is listed below, but fans are encouraged to come early as parking will be limited around Memorial Coliseum on Friday due to several events on north campus. For more information on parking around Memorial Coliseum and other game-day questions visit www.ukathleticsgameday.com/hoops.

“By the time we take the floor tomorrow night, it will be 34 practices and a bunch of hours spent trying to get ready for it,” UK head coach Matthew Mitchell said. “And it’s always an exciting time when you open up the season. So this team’s put a lot into it. We are very much a work in progress, but I’m excited about the future of this team. And tomorrow night’s a big step for us against Rice University. I have a lot of respect for Tina Langley and what she’s accomplished and I know she’ll have her team fired up in her first game at Rice. So I know they have a lot of good players back and it’ll be a battle. I know our players are excited for it and we’re gonna get after it and play as hard as we can and try to take a big step forward tomorrow night.”

The Wildcats are coming off an impressive performance in their lone exhibition game of the season last Sunday vs. Union University, defeating the Bulldogs in Memorial Coliseum, 95-63. Six different UK players scored in double figures, while the Wildcats won the battle of points in the paint, 50-6, and scored 28 points off 26 Union turnovers. UK also won the rebounding battle and took control of the game with a 13-0 run in the first quarter.

Sophomore forward/center Alexis Jennings led the way with a double-double, going for 12 rebounds and 20 points, while senior guard Janee Thompson had 17 points and seven assists in her first game back after missing the last 17 games last season with an injury. The other Wildcats in double-figure scoring were junior forward Evelyn Akhator with 12 points, freshman guard Maci Morris with 10 points, freshman forward Batouly Camara with 15 points and junior forward Kyvin Goodin-Rogers with 12 points.

Kentucky is in its ninth season under Mitchell, who is the winningest head coach in program history. Last year, the Wildcats posted a 24-10 record and earned a school-record sixth-straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament, hosting the first and second rounds for the second consecutive season.

Mitchell and Co. return two starters from last year’s team that defeated six ranked opponents, including three ranked top-10 nationally at the time UK defeated them. Senior guard Janee Thompson, who has recovered from an injury that sidelined her for the final 17 games last season, and junior guard Makayla Epps are the returning starters for Kentucky. Thompson was averaging 10.1 points per game at the time of her injury, while Epps led the Southeastern Conference in scoring during league play and was named First-Team All-SEC by league coaches.

The Wildcats also return junior forward Kyvin Goodin-Rogers, sophomore post players Alexis Jennings – a member of the All-SEC Freshman Team last year – and Alyssa Rice. Senior center Ivana Jakubcova returns as well after missing last season due to injury.

Five newcomers complete the roster for Kentucky, including last year’s WBCA Junior/Community College Player of the Year, Evelyn Akhator. True freshman guards Maci Morris and Taylor Murray join true freshman forward Batouly Camara and look to make an immediate impact in their first season with Kentucky. Cincinnati transfer Makenzie Cann will sit out the 2015-16 seasons due to NCAA transfer rules.

Kentucky will begin the year ranked No. 17 in the USA Today/Coaches Preseason Top 25 and No. 18 Associated Press Preseason Top 25. The preseason rankings mark the sixth consecutive season the Wildcats have been ranked inside the top 20 of both major polls to start the season. UK has been ranked in each poll since week 13 of the 2009-10 season, the longest ranking streak in program history.

Friday marks the first all-time meeting between Kentucky and Rice, including the first time Mitchell has faced Rice during his head coaching career. The Owls are entering their first year under Tina Langley, who spent the last seven years at Maryland as the associate head coach.

Last year, Rice finished with a 9-21 overall record, including a 4-14 mark in Conference USA action. The Owls won just one road match during the 2014-15 season, edging out UTSA in overtime for a 62-58 victory on Jan. 14. Rice held the statistical advantage over its opponents in rebounds per game (42.6-40.6), assists per game (13.1-11.5) and blocks per game (3.7-2.6)

The team returns two of its starters, while also featuring seven newcomers. Jasmine Goodwine is the returning scoring leader, as she was second on the team in 2014-15 in both points (10.8 ppg) and rebounds (4.6 ppg), and also led the team in blocks (34). Goodwine started all 30 games for the Owls last year.

The Owls were knocked out of the C-USA Tournament in the first round, nearly upsetting the No. 5 seed Old Dominion but falling in a 62-57 decision.

For more information on the Kentucky women’s basketball team, follow @UKHoopCats on Twitter and Instagram, or like Kentucky Women’s Basketball on Facebook.

Spectator parking is located in the following areas:

–          All E-lots surrounding Memorial Coliseum beginning 3 hours prior to tip-off

–          The South Limestone Garage (formerly called Parking Structure #5, adjacent to Kennedy’s Bookstore) is available 1.5 hours prior to tip-off.

–          Lexington Authority Transit Center Parking Garage is available after 5 p.m. ET on weekdays and all day on weekends.

–          When parking in the Transit Center, pull a yellow token from the dispenser and keep in your vehicle.  See the event staff attendant at the entrance near Lexington Avenue/High Street to receive a free parking voucher before the game.  When exiting the garage after the game, place your yellow token in the machine, then scan the barcode on your free parking voucher to exit.

–          Handicap parking is available in the E-Lot (Employee Lot) north of the Craft Center, adjacent to the metered spaces running along the frontage of the Craft Center with a valid, state issued handicap tag.  These spaces (typically 20-30 stalls) are available on a first-come, first-serve basis until full.

Please note: parking is prohibited in any R (Residential) lots. Vehicles parking in Residential 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.

Shuttle Information:

–          Free shuttle services are available beginning 1.5 hours prior to tip off from the South Limestone Garage located off Limestone and Upper Street and the Transit Center Parking Garage located off High Street and Vine Street.

–          Parking Structure # 5 (blue route) picks up/drops off on Administration Drive, at the end of the pedestrian sky bridge accessed from the 3rd floor of the parking garage.

–          Transit Center Parking Garage (green route) picks up/drops off near the corner of High Street and Martin Luther King.  See event staff in the area for assistance.

–          Shuttles will start back up at halftime and continue until 1 hour post-game to return guests to their parking areas.

Game day Information:

–          Doors to the Coliseum will open one (1) hour prior to tip-off.

–          UK Athletics encourages women’s basketball fans to arrive early to ease traffic and parking congestion around the Coliseum.

Surface event lots (i.e. Joe Craft Center North, and Rose Street Lot) typically reach capacity approximately 1.5 hours prior to tip-off, at which point vehicles should proceed directly to the South Limestone Garage (PS#5) or the Lexington Authority Transit Center Parking Garage near High Street and Lexington Avenue.

 

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