Kentucky Vs. Florida
Thurs., Jan. 3 - 7:00 p.m. ET
Radio: UK IMG
TV: Fox Sports South, SportSouth, FS Southwest, Sun Sports
If you are a UK Hoops fan you have been waiting for this one for a while. The SEC portion of the schedule begins tonight with the Florida Gators coming into Memorial Coliseum for the 1st SEC game of the 2012-2013 campaign. The Gators come in unranked and carrying an 11-3 record from their out of conference schedule. They are on a six game win streak with the last one being against Holy Cross, 81-50. Florida is not expected to make a lot of noise in the SEC this season, but they always seem to play Kentucky tough, no matter where the game is held. The last five contests have all gone UK's way, but by a total of 13 points.
Matthew Mitchell talked about the Gators in general, but most specifically Kentucky product Sydney Moss:
Absolutely, she is their second-leading scorer and a player we have tremendous respect for. I told the players when we were going through Florida personnel, she is someone we actively recruited and offered a scholarship to and we wanted her to play here and that tells you what we think of her as a player and she chose to go to Florida and I know it's going to be a short drive for her family and friends. We can expect her to play with a really high level of energy. That is what I have seen from Sydney Moss since I've watched her, that's one thing, she is a tremendous competitor, has a great motor that's why we wanted her to come here. She is an outstanding player and clearly one of Florida's best players, so if you add in the extra motivation of playing in front of some family and friends you need to be ready for a really, really tough player taking the floor. Whether she starts or comes off the bench, she has done both, we will have to be ready for her. She definitely has our team's attention.
UK will be counting on it's "Forty Minutes Of Dread" defense again tonight, and their ability to press Florida. The Hoops Squad leads the nation in turnover margin at +12.9, having forced at least 21 turnovers in all 13 games this season, while committing only 15.8 per game. They are making the minutes count, as they have held all but one opponent (then top-ranked Baylor) to .444 percent shooting or under.
Kentucky continues to approach records for wins and consecutive wins, the Wildcats are currently riding a school-record tying 11-game winning streak and a 29-game home winning streak after a 78-56 win over Marist in their regular season non-conference finale on Sunday. And their 29-game home winning streak is the second-longest in school history and ranks tied for second nationally with Ohio State. The school record is 30 set from Feb. 12, 1980 - Jan. 31, 1982.
SEC Player of the Year A'dia Mathies averages 13.3 points per game to lead Kentucky and has hit 22 3pt. shots. Against Marist, she scored 10 points to become the highest scoring guard in UK Hoops history and the fourth-leading scorer overall with 1,608 career points in 117 games. She moved up to No. 4 on UK's all-time steals chart and needs just 35 more to tie the school record. In the front court, juniors DeNesha Stallworth and Samarie Walker are giving Kentucky a real inside presence this season. The duo are combining to average 22.3 ppg and 13.5 rpg and both are shooting over 50 percent.
Expect Florida to give Kentucky all they want tonight. They are led by the aforementioned Moss and Sr. Forward Jennifer George who leads the team in scoring (14.6 ppg) and rebounding (9.1 rpg). Florida is also a defense-minded team and a lot of the games between these two squads are low scoring events. This will be a test for UK's new found offensive prowess.