LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky women’s basketball head coach Matthew Mitchell (pictured with senior Janee Thompson) will provide free pizza to Wildcat fans in attendance at UK's NCAA Tournament first-round game vs. UNC Asheville at Memorial Coliseum on Saturday, March 19. The pizza will be provided after Kentucky’s 4 p.m. ET tipoff vs. UNCA for fans that wish to stay around and watch the Kentucky men’s basketball team play Indiana in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on the video board. The men's game is slated to begin at 5:15 p.m. ET in Des Moines, Iowa
Fans must have a ticket for Saturday’s session and stay after to watch the men’s game on the video board to receive the free pizza. No fans will be allowed into Memorial Coliseum before or after the women’s basketball game vs. UNCA without a ticket and fans may not leave Memorial Coliseum and re-enter between or after games on Saturday.
Tickets may be purchased online at www.ukhoopstix.com, in person at the Joe Craft Center Ticket Office or by calling the UK Ticket Office at 800-928-2287.
Single-session reserved tickets are $22 for adults (ages 19-64), $15 for youth (ages 0-18) and for seniors (ages 65+). Single-session group rate is $10 for groups of 10 or more people (bleacher side seating only). Contact the UK Ticket Office if interested in group seating. Every person, regardless of age, must have a ticket to enter the facility.
All-session ticket prices are $36 for adults (ages 19-64) and $24 for youth (0-18) and seniors (65+). All-session tickets are valid for two games on Saturday and one game on Monday. Fans are encouraged to purchase all-session tickets to secure the best possible seats.
All seating at Memorial Coliseum is reserved. Chairback seats are located on the west side (Sections A-J and AA-JJ). Bleacher seats are located on the east side (Sections R-Z and RR-ZZ). All seats in sections C-G rows 3-6 are chairbacks.
The UK Ticket Office and general public will call will open at 11:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, while player guest entrance will open at 12:30 p.m. ET on Saturday and is located at the Rose Street entrance of Memorial Coliseum.
No. 3 Seed Wildcats Open NCAA Tourney Against UNC Asheville Saturday At Memorial Coliseum
No. 12 UK women’s basketball team will begin its run in the 2016 NCAA Tournament on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET inside Memorial Coliseum when it faces 14th-seeded UNC Asheville. The game will air live on ESPN2 and tickets are available at ukhoopstix.com.
For the third time in program history and third year in a row, Kentucky has been selected to host the first and second rounds of the tournament inside historic Memorial Coliseum. The first round will be held Saturday and the second round Monday. The other first-round matchup Saturday features sixth-seeded Oklahoma against 11th-seeded Purdue at 1:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
Kentucky is 17-12 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, including a 13-6 record under Mitchell. The best finishes for UK came in the 2013, 2012, 2010 and 1982 when the Wildcats fell one win shy of the Final Four. Last season, UK fell in the second round. Over the last seven seasons, Kentucky has advanced to three Elite Eights and four Sweet 16s.
The Wildcats enter the event with a 23-7 record and ranked No. 12 in the latest Associated Press Top 25. UK has won eight of its last nine games, including six straight double-digit wins over conference foes for the first time in program history. Kentucky is 7-3 against ranked opponents this season for its best winning percentage against ranked foes in program history. Junior guard Makayla Epps leads the team in scoring averaging 16.5 points per game with 4.8 rebounds per game. Senior guard Janee Thompson is averaging 12.6 points per game, while junior forward Evelyn Akhator is averaging 11.6 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.
UNC Asheville (26-6) enters the event after winning the Big South Tournament championship. The Bulldogs are averaging 69.4 points per game this season, allowing opponents to score 57.7 points per game. Chatori Major leads the team with 13.9 points per game, adding 44 assists and 36 steals.
Mitchell said his team needs to focus to take advantage of playing in the NCAA tournament in Lexington, including the next weekend at Rupp Arena which hosts the Lexington Regional, if the Wildcats advance.
"I’m in a situation where I have to keep them focused on Asheville," said Mitchell. "Asheville is a very, very aggressive team and they have taken on the personality of their coach. Brenda (Mock Kirkpatrick) is a really great competitor. What she’s done with that program is really amazing. Just look at the progression, six wins, nine wins and now you’re at 26 wins, so they are a very hard-working, scrappy team that can score points and get to the free-throw line and so I have to work really hard to make sure our focus is on winning tomorrow because none of it matters if we don’t.
"We certainly want people to be excited here in town for the opportunity to have such high-level basketball. These are some great teams in here. Asheville is a champion of their conference and a really good basketball team.
"Oklahoma and Purdue have both been to Final Fours and Purdue is a national championship program. Whoever fills out the regional, we just have a great opportunity living in this city to watch some great basketball over the next two weeks. For us to be a part of that would just be amazing from my standpoint.
"I want people to be excited but I’ve got to make sure our team gets excited about UNC Asheville so we can get excited about Monday and then if we get to Monday we need to take care of that so we can get excited about next weekend. We can’t get too far ahead right now. We need to work hard to take advantage of it."
Kentucky and UNC Asheville have met twice in program history with the Wildcats holding a 2-0 record in the series. Both meetings came in 1995, with UK winning 98-76 at home before a 70-55 win on the road.
Kentucky was one of nine Southeastern Conference teams to be awarded a bid to the NCAA Tournament. South Carolina earned an automatic bid to the tournament after winning the conference tournament, and is a No. 1 seed in the Sioux Falls Regional. Mississippi State, Missouri, Auburn, Texas A&M, Florida, Tennessee and Georgia are also going to the Big Dance.
Also earning No. 1 seeds are Connecticut, Notre Dame and Baylor. Connecticut, Baylor and Notre Dame each won their respective conference regular season and tournament titles to receive automatic bids. The Final Four will be played April 3 and 5 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind.
2016 Lexington First and Second Round Schedule
Memorial Coliseum – Lexington, Ky.
First Round – March 19
(6) Oklahoma vs. (11) Purdue – 1:30 p.m. ET – ESPN2
(3) Kentucky vs. (14) UNC Asheville – 4 p.m. ET – ESPN2
Second Round – March 21
Winner game 1 vs. Winner game 2 – Time TBA – ESPN2 (Winner into Lexington Regional semifinal)
Photo by UK Athletics