Matthew Mitchell wants more energy from Cats



If there was one thing missing in UK Hoops’ game against Texas A&M Thursday night, it was effort from the Cats.

That was the message head coach Matthew Mitchell conveyed after his team’s 81-69 loss to the Aggies, and it’s one he hopes he doesn’t have to repeat going forward.

“The energy is on them and we had a good discussion about that,” Mitchell said. “When I showed them the tape, it was not hard to see that we didn’t play well. That can’t be acceptable to any of us.”

But Mitchell still took part of the blame, saying it’s up to him to “create the environment” where players want to give 40 minutes of effort every game. He also said it’s his responsibility to correct the team’s defense after the Cats gave up 12 more points to Texas A&M than their season average.

“I really need to get our half-court defense shored up. That’s my responsibility from a schematic standpoint,” Mitchell added. “As coaches, we have to work hard and put them in positions where they can be successful. So a lot of it’s on me.”

UK (19-7, 8-5 SEC) will look to bounce back from the home loss as it travels to face Ole Miss on Monday. The Rebels, led by former UK assistant coach Matt Insell, are sitting in eighth place in the SEC with a 5-8 conference record. UK is currently in sixth place in the conference standings with three games remaining.

Mitchell expects a heavily contested fight from a highly motivated Ole Miss team, considering the Rebels made it tough for the Cats at home earlier this season.

“We had a real battle with them here in Memorial (Coliseum) and they’re fighting for some positioning right now,” Mitchell said of the Rebels. UK defeated Ole Miss 64-58 in the Jan. 4 matchup. “We didn’t do everything right that day, and we weren’t just fantastic on offense. But we played much more energetic than we did (against Texas A&M).”

But in order to rebound on the road from such a one-sided loss like the Cats suffered on Thursday, Mitchell said it’ll take a team effort, both from the players themselves and from him.

“I have to do a better job coaching and they certainly have to do a better job with their energy,” Mitchell said. “We’ve always found some way to bounce back from that and we have to stay real positive and real encouraging. So together we have to work that out and I believe we will.”