#12 UK Hoops hosts Vanderbilt today at 4 EST for the final game of the regular season. The 21-7 Cats have finished the season 3rd in the SEC rankings behind #4 South Carolina and #10 Tennessee...a little short of their initial goals, but firmly in the running with a shot at the SEC Tournament Championship and projected #4th seed in the NCAA tournament.
But just for a moment, we're going to put that aside and say a heartfelt thank you to the four seniors playing their final regular season game at Memorial. Four gifted athletes, four very unique stories, four unforgettable Wildcats whose efforts for this club will be remembered for years to come:
Bernisha Pinkett - This 5'7" guard and Washington DC native will graduate in May with a degree in special education, and aspires to work Down's Syndrome children. Bernisha has shot 594 career points in her time at UK. Bernisha has shot an impressive 3 pt (47%) and free throw (85%) percentage this season.
Kastine Evans - A 5'8" guard from Salem, Connecticut, Kastine has been on the Winter Honor Roll every year during her tenure at UK, and will graduate with a degree in business management. Kastine participated in the UK trip to Ethiopia in 2012 and came back so inspired she founded her own non-profit organization "Shooting at Success", which utilizes basketball to help children build discipline skills for a successful life. Kastine has been nominated for the All State Good Works Team, and was named to UK's Society of Character for her consistent demonstration of leadership, and passion for academic and personal development. On the court, Kastine has averaged 27 minutes and 9 points per game this season.
DeNesha Stallworth - This 6'3" forward from Richmond, California and McDonald's All American transferred to UK after two years at UC. DeNesha is graduating with a degree in Family Science, and aspires to be a sign language interpreter. DeNesha has shot 705 career points in her time at UK, despite missing several weeks this season with knee surgery. DeNesha is currently in the #2 spot for average points per game (12) and rebounds per game (7).
Samarie Walker - This 6'1" center from West Carrollton, Ohio and McDonald's All American transferred to UK after one season at UConn. Samarie is graduating with a Consumer Science degree in merchandising, apparel and textiles and aspires to be a fashion designer/professional stylist. Samarie partnered with Kastine Evans over the summer to volunteer their time weekly at the Lexington Ronald McDonald's House, where they cleaned rooms for families with children at local hospitals. On the court Samarie has shot 799 career points. This season she leads the team with 247 rebounds (avg 9 per game) and averaged 10 points per game. Interesting note: Samarie has NEVER attempted a 3 point shot at UK.
Oh, right - the game!
Vanderbilt is 18-10 this season and coming into Memorial off a 2 loss streak against Florida and Alabama. Vandy is 5th in the conference on scoring offense, averaging 73 points a game. They shoot 75% from the FT line (2nd best in the conference) and lead the SEC from 3 point range, at a whopping 40%. Christina Foggle is their biggest scoring threat, averaging 19 pts per game. She also leads her squad in steals and blocks.
Kentucky has a nice height advantage over Vandy, but if they get going from the 3 point line we'll need to step up our defense in a BIG way. I'm hoping to see the Cats continue to elevate their offensive efficiency, and their FT shooting. (67%? Woof.)
From this game the Cats move onto the SECT in Duluth, where they're still hoping to pull off the upset and first SECT championship of Mitchell's tenure, and first SEC title since 1982.
Hope to see you on the boards cheering our Cats to victory!