Often regarded as one of the most popular NCAA college sports, Division One Women's College Basketball has been more popular than ever.
During the regular season teams from various Division One Colleges compete in and outside of their respective conferences in an attempt to make the NCAA Women's Division 1 Basketball Championship in April.
In the SEC under head coach Matthew Mitchell, this year's Kentucky Wildcats women's basketball team has had a roller coaster of a season. They must capitalize on their recent success and continue in their winning ways, and enter the top 25 ranked teams list before the season ends as they did a year ago.
Entering Week 2 of the season ranked 15th in the Associated Press's national rankings, the Wildcats started the season on the right track going undefeated and 3 - 0. However, it was difficult for the Wildcats to keep up their winning ways for long. Two tight, overtime losses on the road against two highly ranked teams in the Louisville Cardinals and Arizona State Sun Devils appeared to be warning signs.
Although those games seemed to show some of the team’s faults, all seemed under control as two wins against lower ranked teams in Radford and Washington State followed, and the Wildcats went to 9-3 for the season.
Kentucky's next game vs. Duke started what appeared to be the worst stretch for the team this season. Ranked at 15th in the Nation and eager to defend its home floor, Duke had never lost to Kentucky on its home floor in the Cameron Indoor Stadium and continued to extend the streak.
The Blue Devils benefited on Kentucky's cold shooting as they went 18 of 60 from the field confidently winning 69 - 54. Kentucky failed to recover from its poor shooting and continued to miss a lot of shots in a subsequent loss to the Tennessee Lady Volunteers on the road. Falling to 10-6 after another loss to the Texas A&M Aggies, the Wildcats lost their spot in the top 25 and needed to change something fast.
With their heads against the wall and their team out of the top 25 rankings, change is what the Wildcats needed. One of the reasons for the Wildcats failure in games on the road was shot selection. Typically, when their three pointers weren't falling, the team continued to shoot a lot of threes rendering to free possessions and rebounds for opponents.
Besides shot selection, the Wildcats were often weak on the defensive end and often gave up easy baskets during their rough stretch. The Wildcats needed to drive the Basketball more and play much better defense in order to change their losing ways.
The beginning of the winning streak started with the team's first road win in a blowout against a highly-ranked team in the Alabama Crimson Tide. The game was mostly decided by Power Forward, Evelyn Akhators aggressive play and as their coach described it in a post-game review, the team’s defense.
This increase in defense and aggressiveness appeared to be a common theme during the win streak as the Wildcats destroyed the LSU Lady Tigers and Georgia Lady Bulldogs to make it three wins in a row. The fourth win came in a close game against SEC rival Auburn who lost to a game winning drive by Maci Morris.
Overall, the Wildcats win streak was fueled by solid play on both ends of the floor which is something the team should continue if they hope to crack the top 25 list once again.