UK women face test in Athens

Reported by: Dan Rieffer
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Updated: 1/18/2012 6:43 pm
The No. 6 Kentucky women's basketball team will be looking for its first win in Athens since 2008 when the Cats meet No. 15 Georgia Thursday.

From UK Athletics
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The sixth-ranked Kentucky women’s basketball team remains the only undefeated team in the Southeastern Conference (5-0) after two hard-fought wins over No. 6/7 Tennessee and No. 24/RV South Carolina last week. The Wildcats now face their third consecutive ranked opponent in No. 15/14 Georgia when they travel to Athens, Ga., on Thursday. Game time in Stegeman Coliseum is 7 p.m. ET.

The Wildcats (16-2, 5-0 SEC) look to snap a two-game losing skid to the Lady Bulldogs, and capture their first win in Stegeman Coliseum since 2008.

“We have a big road challenge ahead of us,” UK Hoops head coach Matthew Mitchell said. “Georgia is an outstanding basketball team with really good players and is always well coached. We always have a real, real tough game any time we go to Athens. This year will be no different. It will be a real, real difficult road test for us and we’ll have to work hard to earn a victory down there.”

UK is coming off a hard-fought 66-58 win over South Carolina on Sunday. It was UK’s first win in Columbia, S.C., since 2009. The balanced scoring effort was led by senior guard Keyla Snowden (Lexington, Ky.), who came off the bench for 15 points and three steals. Ten of the 11 players who saw action scored at least two points.   

Junior guard A’dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.) was named the SEC Player of the Week for the third time this season after averaging 21.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.5 blocks and 2.5 steals per game in UK’s two wins. She scored a career-high 34 points in the upset of Tennessee, including hitting the game-winning shot with 4.2 seconds left in the game. Against South Carolina, Mathies scored eight points and tied a career high with three blocks, while also getting three steals.

Overall this season, Mathies dominates in almost every statistical category for UK as she averages 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and leads the team in 3-point field goal percentage (.403) and steals (3.3). She has netted double figures in 14 of 17 games she has played this season, including seven games with 20 or more points. She ranks second in the SEC and 17th nationally in steals per game, having swiped at least one steal in 18 consecutive games dating back to last season.

Freshman Bria Goss (Indianapolis, Ind.) also continues to impress as she is the SEC’s leading freshman scorer with 11.4 points per game. Goss has reached double figures in scoring in 14 of 18 games this season.

Following Goss in the scoring column is Snowden with 11.4 points per game. She has netted double-figure points in three consecutive games, including a season-best vs. Mississippi State.

“It would be hard for me to accurately put how proud I am of Keyla,” Mitchell said. “… She has been more vocal than I have ever heard her before and she has been much tougher than at any point in her career on a consistent basis. She’s had some huge games here, but her stats aren’t even what I’m impressed with, it’s her attitude and her toughness. She has really, really been tough in five games in the league. You need that and I just think it’s been a real evolution of Keyla Snowden from being considered a stand-still shooter and a weapon, to now just a really top-level Southeastern Conference basketball player, and we wouldn’t be where we are without her contributions.”

No. 15/14 Georgia enters Thursday’s contest coming off a 68-51 victory on the road at Mississippi State on Sunday. The Lady Bulldogs (15-3, 4-1 SEC) were led by junior guard/forward Anne Marie Armstrong, who scored a team-high 22 points and grabbed a team-high tying nine rebounds.

On the season, UGA has been led by junior forward Jasmine Hassell, sophomore guard Khaalidah Miller and Armstrong. Hassell is averaging a team-high tying 13.3 points and a team-high tying 5.8 rebounds per game. Miller is tied with Hassell in scoring, also averaging 13.3 points per game to go with her 4.4 rebounds. Armstrong is tied with Hassell in rebounding, averaging 5.8 rebounds per game, 11.5 points and a team-high 1.1 blocks per game.

The Lady Bulldogs are 9-0 in Stegeman Coliseum this season. UGA’s last loss at home was Feb. 24, its final home game of the 2010-11 season vs. No. 22 Auburn. The Tigers defeated UGA 63-58.

UGA leads the all-time series 34-12, including a 16-3 advantage in Athens. UK has lost two in a row to the Lady Bulldogs. UK’s last win over Georgia came on Feb. 11, 2010 in Memorial Coliseum (64-48).

The Cats have also dropped their last two games on the road at Georgia. UK’s last win in Athens came in 2008 when the Wildcats upset No. 17/14 Georgia in Athens on Jan. 31 (47-44).

Five of the last eight meetings against Georgia have been decided by seven points or less. UK went 2-3 in those close matchups, winning by a +5 margin and losing by -2.3.

The game can be heard live on the UK IMG Sports Radio Network or www.UKAthletics.com with Neil Price calling the action. Fans can follow the UK Hoops team on Twitter at @UKHoopCats and use #UKHoops to comment on the game.
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