I often joke that SEC women’s basketball is like Thunderdome, as it seems as though they spend all of conference play trying to beat each other to death with giant clubs. However, that statement has NEVER been more accurate than tonight’s matchup. Both Kentucky and Carolina are coming off losses they did not anticipate, and will be looking for a statement win to let the world at large know they should not be ignored. Kentucky will be looking to beat Carolina for the first time since the 2015 season, and Carolina will be looking to scoop up an incredibly valuable road win. Between all of that, two opposing and highly competitive coaches, and the chance for a UK student to win $25,000 if they can sink a half-court shot? Tonight’s game should be drama, drama, drama for a full fourty minutes.
Carolina is led by All-Star everything A’ja Wilson, who is averaging 16.7 PPG and shoots a scorching 57.6% from the field. [She is NOT a strong three point (0%) or free throw shooter (68.9%). With our size, I doubt we’ll be able to tempt her into trying something new.] Close at her heels are Allisha Gray, who’s averaging 13.7 PPG, hits 51% from the field and 73% of her free throws; and Alaina Coates, who’s averaging 13.4 PPG, hits 64.7% (!!!) from the field, and averages 11 rebounds per game. There’s a reason this squad is ranked #1 in the SEC...they’re that good.
I have zero ideas for easy ways to win this game. Carolina is big, fast, talented, and deep. We’re fast and talented, but not overly big and definitely not deep. However, this is one of the big games on the schedule, and I have zero doubt that Matthew Mitchell and his staff have worked hard to get these ladies as ready as they can be for tonight. We’re going to have to play one of the best games of our lives if we want to pull off this win. That said, there’s not another squad in recent history whom I would trust to pull off such a gutsy miracle.
Tipoff tonight is at 7 PM EST on the SEC Network. Until gametime, Cat fans...GO BIG BLUE!!!