Kentucky at Alabama Crimson Tide
Sun., Jan. 6 - 3:00 p.m. ET
Radio: UK IMG
From now on, they all count. That has to be the approach that the Hoops squad takes into every game the rest of the season. We hear talk each and every year about how you can go into the tournament with 2-3 losses and still be a #1 seed. This team does not have that luxury. Take a look at the standings as of today in women's hoops. Duke is now the lone unbeaten, as Notre Dame knocked off UCONN last night.
Kentucky will not see another game against the Top 5 this season, unless Georgia and or Tennessee make their way that high, which is not likely. Kentucky will be slightly favored against both those teams with Georgia being the first one they see in early February. Kentucky's lone loss, to at that time #1 Baylor will not hurt them if, and only if, they can make their way through the SEC unscathed. The teams above UK will have to stumble somewhere to open the door, but Kentucky has to be ready to step in when the opportunity presents itself.
So, the Florida game was a war. And if that is so, then this game will be one as well. going into a hostile environment at Bama always makes it tough on visiting teams. Bama is coming off of a loss to Texas A&M, and will not want to go down to a 0-2 mark in SEC play to start the season. Kentucky will have to be on their toes to prevent the letdown after having to fight one comeback after another against the Gators.
Bama was 10-3 after going 3-0 in the 2012 Bank of Hawai'i Rainbow Wahine Invitational. They earned wins over Cincinnati (58-47), LIU Brooklyn (80-58) and Hawai'i (44-43).They have 3 players averaging double-figures this season, led by sophomore Rutgers transfer Daisha Simmons with 11.9 ppg. Junior guards Jasmine Robinson and Shafontaye Myers follow with 11.3 and 10.9 ppg, each.
In his press conference after the Florida game Coach Matthew Mitchell had a few things to say about this week:
We are really pleased from the result of last night's game. After going back and watching it, I was even more impressed with how our players responded in the game and really won a tough, tough game over an opponent that made us work and really tested us. That was a great win to start the season off with. Now, we have a different challenge here. It is our first road game in SEC play. Alabama is off to a good start and had a good record in the non-conference schedule. They are very athletic and have a lot of kids that can score the basketball and we certainly know how tough they are at home. We got beat down there last year so our team needs to be ready to go against a very athletic and aggressive Alabama team.
And when asked about how he will handle talking to the team about last year's loss at Bama:
I think it is worth mentioning to our team as they see them on film this afternoon for the first time. I think some of the veterans know we didn't do that well. We do have a veteran team and a lot of people played down there last year. So I think it is worth mentioning what happened. It was all about energy last year. We got beat, I think by 22 the first half, then we beat them by 21, or whatever it was. It was a close game in the end but we didn't have the energy we needed in that game. A lot of the same players are back for them and a lot of the same players are back for us. So I do think it is worth mentioning. We won't dwell on it or harp on it, but just for them to know and to get our veterans attention I think we will talk about it.
Kentucky is now 13-1, 1-0 SEC. They are poised to enter the realm of the likes of Stanford, Notre Dame, UCONN, and the other elite teams in the NCAA, but they have to make a statement to do that. This team is capable of that statement. Now that Samarie Walker and DeNesha Stallworth have figured out their roles and how to play together, A'Dia Mathies has pulled herself out of her funk, and Jennifer O'Neill has started being the player everyone knew she would be, the team is starting to gel.
The mental errors are still occurring, though, and UK can ill afford another 10-15 unforced turnovers like the Florida game. Giving away the ball is just a waste of hard work, and can negate all the hustle and defensive pressure in the world. So look for UK to take care of the basketball and the business as they wipe the thoughts of last year's tough loss at Bama from our minds. Kentucky by 8 in a hard fought road win. This is their time, and there is no better way to continue this 12 game winning streak than to Roll The Tide.