Cats, Cards hoops braced for Sunday meeting



By Boyd Hayes

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With the first full month of the season completed, No. 9 UK hoops heads into December with a 5-1 record, set to take on No. 7 Louisville (8-0) this Sunday in the KFC Yum! Center.

The Cats’ five victories have been won by a combined margin of 215 points.

Key to head coach Matthew Mitchell’s success this season have been the play of senior guard A’dia Mathies and the one-two punch of juniors Samarie Walker and DeNesha Stallworth in the low post.

Mathies leads the team in points (14.5 per game), assists (20), three-pointers made (14) and steals (16).

Stallworth and Walker have contributed a combined 18.2 points per game, 76 rebounds per game, 20 blocks and 18 steals.

The Cardinals, in head coach Jeff Walz’ sixth season at the helm, are led by junior guard Shoni Schimmel, senior forward Monique Reid and sophomore forward Sara Hammond.

Similar to Mathies, Schimmel leads her team in scoring (13.3 points per game), assists (35), three-point field goals made (19) and steals (17).

Reid is averaging 9.8 points per game and 4.0 rebounds per game, as well as recording 11 steals on the season. Hammond, a 2011 McDonald’s All-American, leads the team in rebounds with 8.1 per game, as well as averaging 10.9 points per game and recording 12 steals and seven blocks.

Both the Cats and the Cardinals benefit from depth, as UK has 11 players averaging 10 or more minutes per game, and Louisville has 10 players averaging 10 or more minutes per game. UK also has eight players averaging five or more points per game, while Louisville has seven in the same category.

After last season’s Cats and Cardinals matchup, in which the then-No.12 Cats upset the then-No.10 Cardinals 74-54 on a 20-point performance from Mathies, the significance of the in-state rivalry has only grown. Both teams now tote top-10 national rankings and nationally acclaimed upperclassmen. UK leads the all-time series 30-18.

Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. EST Sunday, Dec. 2 and will be televised on ESPNU.