LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University Kentucky women’s basketball team will look to right the ship and snap a three-game losing skid when Southeastern Conference foe LSU comes to Memorial Coliseum on Sunday afternoon, Feb. 7. The Wildcats are set for a noon tipoff against the Tigers, who are also riding a three-game losing streak in conference action.
Additionally, Sunday’s game will honor National Girls and Women in Sports Day. Since its inception in 1987 as a day to remember Olympic volleyball player Flo Hyman for her athletic achievements and her work to assure equality for women in sports, NGWSD has become the premier occasion to celebrate the participation, success and accomplishments of female athletes. In order to celebrate NGWSD, various UK women’s teams will lead skills clinics on the concourse starting at 11 a.m.
The game will be televised on the SEC Network with Paul Sunderland, Gail Goestkors and Steffi Sorensen calling the action. The game can also be seen on the SEC Network+, which is available through WatchESPN on computers, tablets or smartphones. Fans can also listen to the game live on the UK Sports Radio Network with Neil Price on 630AM WLAP. Live stats and free audio will be available online at UKathletics.com.
“We’re preparing for our match on Sunday versus LSU,” UK head coach Matthew Mitchell said. “They have a really tough defensive team and play a lot of really tough zone. We’ll have to move the ball well and work hard to score against them, and we’ve got to continue to seek defensive improvement. We saw some things take shape last night that show a little bit of improvement but we’ve still got a long way to go. We’ve got to keep working at it every single day. I believe we have a good team, and we just have to bring them together. And we have to work real hard between now and Sunday at noon so we can earn a victory versus LSU.”
Following a series of losses against Vanderbilt, No. 22 Florida and No. 2 South Carolina, the Wildcats now sit as the No. 18 team in both the Associated Press and USA Today/Coaches Polls. Most recently, the Wildcats fell on the road to the No. 2 Gamecocks after trailing USC closely before ultimately dropping a 78-68 decision. During the setback, junior guard Makayla Epps (pictured) became the 31st member of Kentucky’s 1,000 point club, leading the Wildcats with 17 points.
Epps currently leads the team with 17.6 points per game, and is the second leading scorer within conference action at 18.6 ppg. The junior became the first player since Sara Potts in 2004 to post 20+ points in four consecutive games with her scoring efforts against Ole Miss, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Florida. Epps was also recently named to the Dawn Staley Award Mid-Season Watch List, which is given to the top collegiate guard in the nation. Joining Epps in the backcourt is Janee Thompson, who ranks 41st in the nation in assists per game at 5.2 helpers per contest and is second on the team in scoring with 12.2 ppg.
Junior post Evelyn Akhator has recorded a trio of double-doubles in conference play, accomplishing the feat against Auburn, Georgia and Florida, and is averaging 11.6 points and 9.2 rebounds per game for the 2015-16 season. Jennings is averaging 9.3 points and 7.6 rebounds per game this season and has also been impressive from the free throw line in league play, knocking down 24-of-24 charity shots.
LSU sits at the bottom of conference standings with a 8-15 record, including 2-8 within SEC play. The Tigers’ two wins within the SEC came against Ole Miss, 76-57, and Georgia, 53-46. The Tigers are coached by Nikki Vargas, who has compiled a 163-90 career record, including 91-64 during her five years as LSU’s head coach.
Two Tigers are averaging at least 10 points to lead the team in scoring, with Alexis Hyder atop the team statistics with 11.2 ppg, followed by Jenna Deemer with 10.1 ppg. Hyder also leads the team in rebounding, with 7.7 rpg, and has also rejected a team-high 19 shots. Deemer is the team’s 3-point shooter with nearly half her shots coming from beyond the arc to lead the team with 28 made 3-pointers, while no other Tiger has made more than five 3-pointers on the season.
As a team, LSU is averaging 54.3 points per game, but has the 42nd-best scoring defense in the nation and the fifth-best in the SEC, holding opponents to just 56.8 ppg. LSU also ranks in the upper half of the SEC in terms of steals, averaging 9.2 swipes per contest.
Sunday marks the 45th meeting between Kentucky and LSU, with the Tigers holding a 32-12 advantage in the all-time series. UK has posted a 5-4 record since Jan. 28, 2010, when the Wildcats snapped a 16-game losing streak to the Tigers with a 71-62 victory in Baton Rouge. The last time the two teams met, LSU handed Kentucky an 84-79 setback on the road. UK has won its last three games against the Tigers in Lexington, most recently by way of a 63-56 victory on Feb. 2, 2014.
Single-game tickets are $9 for all ages, while adult general admission single-game tickets are $8. For those aged 6-18 or 65-and-over, general admission costs are $5 per ticket. Children age five-and-under are admitted free in the general admission seating area, and UK students, faculty and staff are admitted free with valid identification. For more information on parking around Memorial Coliseum and other game-day questions visit ukathleticsgameday.com/hoops.
Photo by UK Athletics