You can call it anything you like, call it opening round jitters, call it an off game, call it a fluke. Just don't call it UKHOOPS basketball. Kentucky survived their encounter with McNeese State in the Women's opening round yesterday and that's about the best word I can use. Survived.
It just seems as though UK cannot enjoy a good seed in the tourney. The last three years, facing a #13, #13, and a #15 seed, the Cats have won each game, but by a margin of no more than 6 points. It's like they forget themselves the first game of the tourney every year. I'll go into more detail after the jump.
"I don't really know how to seed teams, but that was an awfully good team," Mitchell said. "They're really a tough matchup for the way we play."
The truth of the matter is that UK's hopes for any success in the tourney lie in the hands of one A'Dia Mathies. If Mathies is on her game, and doing what UK needs her to do, they are some seriously tough Cats to clean up after. Unfortunately for UK (or fortunately, if you make the case that they survived in spite of it) Mathies was almost nonexistant. She got in early foul trouble, sat most of the first half, and fouled our of the second half after being of little effect.
But Mathies was not alone in her ineffectiveness, as UK shot 2 of 17 from 3 pt. range and only 16-28 from the FT line. Those numbers might get you by a #15 seed, but they won't cut it against a Green Bay team that has only lost one game all year.
Green Bay and UK meet Monday night at 9:45 in the second round of the Women's Tourney, and Coach Mitchell only has about 36 hours to try and get this team back to playing in mid-season form. Since their victory against Ole Miss back on Feb. 5th, UK is 5-4, while shooting at a 20% less effective rate, scoring less from the FT line, and making a smaller % of 3 pt. baskets as well. All of those are factors which UK uses to beat it's opponents, not to get beat by them. Wisc. Green Bay plays tough, hard nosed defense, and is a team full of capable shooters. Mathies, Goss, and Co. are going to have to get out early on them and not let up if they expect to win. We will be live blogging the game tomorrow night at 9:45 as the Cats look to make Green Bay the next step in the evolution of this squad from also-rans to champions. ESPN2 will be carrying the game, so stop in and enjoy. UKHOOPS is going to need all the help they can get.