Hoops serve basketball for breakfast



By Les Johns | @KernelJohns

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The morning ritual of coffee, breakfast and the elusive search for a parking spot on campus had one fun addition Wednesday – a UK Hoops game.

The Cats defeated Miami (Ohio) 92-53 during “Class of 2019 Day” at Memorial Coliseum. The season high crowd of 6,476 was bolstered by several thousand screaming sixth graders from area elementary schools.

“Not only our fans that come regularly to the game, but these young kids that come in and get exposure to our campus,” UK head coach Matthew Mitchell said. “For some of them it may be the first time. For us to come and play so well, maybe it left a good impression on them and they leave campus feeling real good about Kentucky.

“That is the best thing about today and that is why we had this game.”

The school-kids yelled and screamed for the Cats, but also seemed pretty excited over free t-shirts and dancing to “Gangnam Style.”

The game served as a wake-up call for junior guard Bernisha Pinkett, who claimed extra minutes due to starting sophomore guard Jennifer O’Neill sitting out the game with a foot injury.

Pinkett led the team with a career-high 21 points, a career-high 10 rebounds and five assists.

“When people see that they are going to have to guard her like they guard me, Bria (Goss), Samarie (Walker) or anyone else,” senior guard A’dia Mathies said. “So that will open up driving lanes and make us an even better offensive threat.”

Her performance Wednesday speaks to the depth of Mitchell’s team. He doesn’t just have an abundance of scholarship players at his disposal, he has a roster full of team players that can step up in any given game and make a solid impact.

“We are a deep team,” sophomore guard Bria Goss said. “What’s so special about our team is that anyone can score 20-plus any given night and that’s what coach wants is to have deep players and to be able to use your bench.”

Pinkett had averaged 11 minutes per game in the first five games of the season, but played 28 solid minutes Wednesday.

Capitalizing on being left open at first behind the arc, Pinkett went 3-of-6 from the 3-point line.

“The first time I shot the three, I thought they were just slipping a little but when they left me open again I thought ‘that’s fine,’ I will just keep shooting it until they come out and get me,” Pinkett said.

Mitchell said Pinkett was known as a shooter despite her 25.9 percent shooting behind the arc her first two years at UK.

“We recruited Bernisha as a shooter, she always had a talent for that,” Mitchell said. “I am not surprised when she makes shots. I am disappointed when she doesn’t. That is a part of her game, something she needs to do.”

Of her 10 rebounds, eight were on the offensive end.

“What I loved was her energy on the boards,” Mitchell said. “Bernisha’s energy helped us get going in the right direction.”