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Saturday, July 20, 2019

SECrets: Kentucky Ends Tennessee’s 36-Game SEC Winning Streak

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Photo Caption: Kentucky’s A’dia Mathies recorded a career-high 34 points to go with nine rebounds in leading the No. 9/8 Wildcats to a 61-60 victory in the finals seconds of Thursday’s Southeastern Conference match with No. 6/7 Tennessee at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky. The win broke a 36-game SEC conference winning streak for the Lady Vols.

Photo Credit: Courtesy UK Media Relations

By Mike Siroky

Full Court’s Southeastern Conference Game of the Week lived up to expectations.

And rising star A’dia Mathies did too.

Mathies played more minutes (36) and scored more points (34, a career high, with nine rebounds) than anyone else. After the Lady Vols had come back from more than than a dozen down in the final eight minutes of the game, to take a three-point lead with a minute-and-a-half to go, it was Mathies who rebounded her own miss and dropped it in to cut the gap to one with 46 seconds left.

The ferocious Wildcat defense stood tough during the subsequent Tennessee possession, which ended 18 seconds later, when Shekinna Stricklen was called for a charge, turning the ball back over to the home team with 28 ticks left on the clock.

And after a time out, it was once again Mathies who drove the lane, cutting through a pair of Lady Vols defenders to score her final basket, the game-winner, with five seconds left as the Kentucky Wildcats put a magnificent stamp on their early season, outlasting visiting Tennessee, 61-60, on Thursday night, Jan. 12 in Lexington, Kentucky’s Memorial Coliseum.

The win snapped Tennessee’s 36-game winning streak in conference play and puts the Wildcats atop the conference standings for the time being, alongside LSU, as one of the two remaining undefeated SEC teams in conference play.

But even more importantly, it signals an announcement that Kentucky has returned to stay in the Top 10 of women’s college basketball.

The buzz had started by halftime, when the Wildcats headed to the locker room with a four-point edge, 25-21.

Even though that obviously means Tennessee won the second half, it was an important position in this taut game and a testament to the Kentucky defense. Twenty-one points is a season-low for Tennessee.

The Wildcats gradually stretched their lead to 12 points (50-38) over the first 13 minutes of the second half, but the Lady Vols were not done yet. Over the next three minutes, Tennessee peeled off a 16-4 run, fueled by a pair of three-pointers from Meighan Simmons and Stricklen and a conventional three-point play by Ariel Massengale, to tie the score at 54 apiece and three-and-a-half minutes remaining.

Mathies got the lead back for the home team on a pair from the charity stripe, but Stricken restored the stalemate with a layup seconds later.

Next it was Glory Johnson, fouled by Samarie Walker, at the line, putting Tennessee back on top. But Johnson made just one of her pair at the stripe, and as the game evolved, would no doubt wish she could have had a do-over.

The price the Vols would pay for the miss was not immediately apparent, however.  With Tennessee up by one, 57-56, Mathies made one of her few mistakes of the night, turning the ball over, which led to a fast-break lay-up by Tennessee’s Vicki Baugh on an assist from Ariel Massengale, and a three-point lead by the visitors, with 2:06 remaining.

Over the next 30 seconds, each side took a turn at the line, with each making only one of its penalty shots to leave the score at 57-60, Tennessee, when Mathies began her heroics in the final minute.

“I just took a one-on-one, got past her and I seen a couple of trees,” said Mathies of her game-winning shot. “I shot it and it went in. I’m glad it went in.”

The Lady Vols had a final, desperate chance to pull out the win, as Kamiko Williams drove the length of the floor and heaved up a long, off-balance jumper, only to see it bounce off the front of the rim as time expired and the Wildcats’ celebration began.

Glory Johnson scored 17, Vicki Baugh 16 and Shekinna Stricklen 11 points for Tennessee.

Mathies by far carried the laboring oar for the Wildcats, joined in double figures only by Keyla Snowden, who came off the bench for 11 points, but on dreadful three-of-13 (23.1 percent) field-goal shooting, including one-for-six (16.7 percent) from the arc.

Indeed, as a team, Kentucky shot just 29 percent (nine-of-31) from the floor in the opening half, but stepped it up enough in the second period to finish at 34.5 percent for the game as a whole. But the three-point arc was not their friend, as the Wildcats netted just four of their 21 attempts from downtown (19 percent).

Instead, it was defense that set the stage for the Kentucky victory, as Tennessee turned the ball over 20 times, making this the 99th straight game in which UK has forced double-digit mistakes by its opponent.

The Wildcats reaped 20 points off those Tennessee errors, as compared to the 17 points the Lady Vols gleaned from Kentucky’s 16 turnovers. A small difference? True, but one larger than the margin of victory.

The other big difference: Kentucky made 22 trips to the free-throw line, where they netted 17 (77.3 percent) of their penalty shots. Tennessee got to the line 19 times, but knocked down just 12 (63.2 percent) of their attempts.

Baugh, a Tennessee redshirt senior, had this observation about Mathies: “It was very frustrating. We have a defensive problem. We don’t have a defensive stopper.

“It is hurting us. We can’t let the best player of every team come in and have ‘a game.’ That’s one component we are going to have to step up. Our defense has to step it up.”

Still, Glory Johnson, like Baugh a Tennessee grad student finishing her final year of collegiate eligibility, appeared to recognize that in many ways, her team had defeated themselves with their mistakes:

“Mathies did a great job of getting to the basket,” said Johnson of Mathies’ game winning floater. “We’re not going to look at that one play, we’re going to look at missed layups and missed free throws and turnovers and everything that happened that shouldn’t have.”

Tennessee coach Pat Summitt did not deny Kentucky took it to her team.

“You have to give Kentucky a lot of credit,” she said. “We are disappointed in our play. Hopefully we can learn from this.”

For only the second time in school history Kentucky is 4-0 in conference with wins over three Top 10 teams (the others are Duke and Louisville).

Kentucky meets Tennessee again at Knoxville the night before Valentine’s Day. Wonder if they will exchange cards?

Summing Up the Midweek SEC Results

  • No. 9/8 Kentucky 61 v. Tennessee 60
  • No. 20/16 Georgia 61 v. Florida 55
  • LSU 58 v. South Carolina 48
  • Ole Miss 60 v. Arkansas 54
  • No. 25/24 Vanderbilt 66 v. Auburn 58
  • Mississippi State 66 @ Alabama 61

Looking Back at the Midweek SEC Highlights: Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012

Thursday proved to be a good day for the home team, as not only Kentucky, but also every other hosting team but Alabama, prevailed over the visitors:

  • Despite being outscored, 39-32, in the second half, No. 20/16 Georgia, defeated visiting Florida, 61-55, thanks to a strong start. A key line in the box score shows the Dawgs were awarded twice as many free throws (22) and hit three times as many (18) as their visitors. Anne Marie Armstrong and Khaalidah Miller each scored 19 for Georgia. Jennifer George led Florida with 15 points and eight rebounds. “Krista Donald came in late in the game when we were really having trouble on the boards and did a terrific job with that,” said Georgia coach Andy Landers. “She got some huge rebounds and did a good job defensively. Offensively, I thought Anne Marie Armstrong did a terrific job early. “Everyone hit shots,” Landers added. “Everybody did what they needed to do when we needed them to do it.”
  • South Carolina just made its way into the national rankings this week at No. 24 in the AP poll. The question is whether they will still be there Monday, after falling to LSU, 58-48. It was the 10th straight win for the Tigers. LaSondra Barrett scored a game-high 14 points. LSU went on a 12-0 second-half run to take control and remain unbeaten in four conference games. “With us playing at home, we want to make sure that we’re sending a message (this) is a very difficult place to come and play,” said LSU coach Nikki Caldwell. “I’m really proud of this team in really being a defensive-minded team.”
  • Ole Miss allowed Arkansas senior C’eria Ricketts to score 19 points, but nonetheless pulled out a 60-54 home win. Nikki Byrd scored 16 for the Rebels. “This is a disappointing loss,” said Arkansas coach Tom Collen. “This was a game we wanted to win to jump start our confidence.  We have to go back and try to do that in front of our home crowd against Auburn Sunday.”
  • No. 25/24 Vanderbilt withstood a late 13-1 run by Auburn in a 66-58 win at home. The Auburn bench did most of the damage, outscoring the Commodores’ bench, 22-4. Vanderbilt was led by sophomore Christina Foggie with 27 points.
  • Mississippi State freshman Kendra Grant buried a three-pointer with 78 seconds to pull out a 66-61 road win for the Bulldogs at Alabama. Teammate Diamber Johnson led all scorers with 22 as the Bulldogs came from seven back at halftime.

Current SEC Standings

SEC Women’s Basketball Standings
(As of January 13, 2012)
Rank School Conf. Pct. Overall Pct.
1 Kentucky 4-0 1.000 15-2 .882
2 LSU 4-0 1.000 13-3 .813
3 South Carolina 3-1 .750 14-3 .824
4 Tennessee 3-1 .750 12-4 .750
5 Georgia 3-1 .750 14-3 .824
6 Vanderbilt 2-1 .667 14-2 .875
7 Mississippi State 1-2 .333 11-5 .688
8 Auburn 1-3 .250 9-8 .529
9 Florida 1-3 .250 11-5 .647
10 Ole Miss 1-3 .250 11-6 .647
11 Alabama 0-4 .000 10-8 .556
12 Arkansas 0-4 .000 11-5 .688
Source: secdigitalnetwork.com

Coming Up Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012

1. LSU @ Florida

When: 1:00 p.m.

2. No. 25/24 Vanderbilt @ No. 6/7 Tennessee The Lady Vols have only three days to regroup before taking on their second nationally ranked opponent of the week—Vanderbilt—in conference action. Despite the disparity in rankings for these two teams, don’t expect a walk-over. The Lady Vols and the ‘Dores rank No. 2 and 3, respectively, in scoring offense with exactly one point per game separating them. The Commodores own a stingier defense, allowing opponents just 55.6 points per game, as compared to the Vols, who give up 59.2 points on average.

Aside from home court, one major factor in the game is apt to be rebounding: Tennessee leads the league on the boards with 46.2 rebounds per game on average; Vanderbilt ranks No. 8 in the SEC in this category, pulling down 40.9 boards per game.

This game is also the kick-off to the SEC-sponsored “We Back Pat” week, raising funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s research.

When: 2:00 p.m. EST, Thompson-Boling Arena, Knoxville, Tenn. (SECN)

3. Auburn @ Arkansas The Razorbacks are still in search of their first conference win, but Auburn is not that much ahead of them, with just one league win to their credit. And few games in the SEC are “gimmes”: Arkansas ranks third in scoring defense, fifth in rebounding offense and turnover margin, fourth in assist/turnover ratio and first in defensive rebound percentage. They also boast some solid players in C’eira Ricketts (11.3 ppg) and Sarah Watkins (10.2 ppg). They should match up well against an Auburn team that also features just two players in (low) double-digits—Tyrese Tanner (10.5 ppg) and Hasina Muhammad (10.3 ppgs). Those who get FSN can enjoy Hall of Fame Coach Van Chancellor with the call.

When: 2:30 p.m. EST/1:30 p.m. CST, Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville, Ark. (FSN)

4. No. 20/16 Georgia @ Mississippi State Mississippi State picked up its first conference win on Thursday against Alabama. In this contest of Bulldogs versus Bulldogs, the MSU crew, who swept the regular-season series with Georgia last season, will have its annual alumni day festivities to spur them on. Still, don’t expect a reprise this year. Mississippi State features Diamber Johnson (17.6 ppg) and Porsha Porter (14.5 ppg), but Georgia boasts four players who average double figures—Jasmine Hassell (13.4 ppg), Khaalidah Miller (13.1 ppg), Anne Marie Armstrong (10.9 ppgs) and Jasmine James (10.5 ppg)—so it’s hard to know whom to defend. And speaking of defense, Georgia’s allows just 56.1 points per game, which when offset against their offense of 71.3 points per game, gives those Lady Dawgs a scoring margin of +15.2; MSU’s scoring margin is a more modest +4.6.

When: 3:00 p.m. EST/2:00 p.m. CST, Humphrey Coliseum, Starkville, Miss.

5. No. 9/8 Kentucky @ No. 24/NR South Carolina The Gamecocks are nationally ranked (No. 24 in this week’s AP poll) for the first time since 2003, and are definitely a time on the rise. But as the Wildcats showed on Thursday against Tennessee, they are a team already at the top of their game. Is an upset likely? No. Out of the question? The answer to that question is also “No,” as South Carolina showed last year, when, though then unranked, they bumped off the Wildcats (then ranked No. 15 nationally), 66-61.

When: 3:00 p.m. EST, Colonial Life Arena, Columbia, So. Car.

6. Ole Miss @ Alabama Both teams come into this game hungry, with the Crimson Tide still in search of their first conference win, and Ole Miss having just picked up their first, with a 60-54 home win over Arkansas Thursday, and anxious to make it two in a row. The Rebels are led by Nikki Byrd, who is currently averaging a double-double of 14.6 points and 10.4 rebounds per game, and sophomore Valencia McFarland, 13 points and more than four assists per game. ‘Bama has only one double-digit scorer—Jasmine Robinson (12.3 ppg), wihle Ericka Russell is just off that mark with 9.9 points per game.

When: 3:00 p.m. EST/2:00 p.m. CST, Foster Auditorium, Tuscaloosa, Ala.


Originally published Fri, January 13, 2012

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Week: February 7, 2012
1 Baylor (31) 24-0 1 1 1 775
2 Notre Dame 23-1 2 2 2 743
3 Connecticut 21-2 3 4 3 710
4 Stanford 20-1 4 5 4 685
5 Duke 19-3 6 8 5 650
6 Miami (FL) 20-3 7 7 6 604
7 Kentucky 21-3 5 15 7 584
8 Maryland 20-3 10 10 8 534
9 Wisconsin-Green Bay 20-0 9 24 9 530
10 Ohio State 21-2 11 NR-RV
10 483
11 Tennessee 17-6 8 3 11 476
12 Delaware 20-1 13 NR 12 434
13 Georgetown 18-5 15 11 14 379
14 Texas A&M 16-5 16 6 15 378
15 Nebraska 19-3 18 NR 13 309
16 Rutgers 17-4 14 12 17 372
17 Louisville 17-6 12 9 20 276
18 Gonzaga 21-3 19 NR-RV
19 234
19 Purdue 19-5 17 21 16 222
20 Georgia 18-6 20 12 21 202
21 Penn State 18-5 21 14 18 176
22 DePaul 17-7 23 18 NR-RV
23 Georgia Tech 16-6 22 NR-RV
22 104
24 South Carolina 18-5 NR-RV
NR 24 46
25 Vanderbilt 18-5 NR-RV
NR 45
Dropped Out: No. 24 North Carolina, No. 25 Kansas.
First-place votes: Total first-place votes received (if any) are indicated in parentheses following school name.
Others receiving votes: St. Bonaventure (22-2) 34; North Carolina (17-6) 19; California (17-6) 18; Florida Gulf Coast (21-2) 16; Middle Tennessee (19-5) 15; Texas-El Paso (20-2) 8; Texas Tech (16-6) 5; Brigham Young (21-4) 4; Fresno State (19-4) 4; St. John's (15-8) 4; Princeton (15-4) 3; Oklahoma (15-7) 2; West Virginia (17-6) 2; Kansas State (15-7) 1.
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Credit: Courtesy Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). The weekly Division I Top 25 Coaches' Poll, sponsored by USA Today and ESPN, is based on voting by a Board of Coaches made up of 31 head coaches at Division I institutions all of whom are WBCA members.