UK Hoops ranked nationally in both polls



By Les Johns | staff writer

Head coach Matthew Mitchell’s UK Hoops team was ranked No. 18 nationally in the The Associated Press poll and No. 15 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches’ poll.

This is the first time in program history that the team has been ranked in the preseason polls in consecutive seasons. Mitchell was not impressed.

“You couldn’t find a less interested coach in our preseason ranking,“ said Mitchell at UK Hoops Media Day Tuesday. “It means nothing. It has no bearing on this group now or what they can become.”

Mitchell did soften his stance later.

“We would rather be well-thought-of than not,”  Mitchell said. “We want to be considered one of the top teams in the country year-in and year-out.”

The Cats face six teams in the AP Top 25, including two of the top three. UK will play road games against No. 2 Notre Dame, No. 13 Georgia and No. 21 LSU.  Memorial Coliseum will serve as host for a matchup against No. 9 Louisville.

The team will also host No. 7 Duke on Dec. 8, with the game taking place at Rupp Arena.

The Cats will play perennial SEC favorite and No. 2 Tennessee twice, once in Knoxville and once in Lexington.

“We have some very good teams on our schedule,“ Mitchell said. “That motivates us as players and coaches to get prepared.”

Although fans may be looking at the marquee matchups later in the season, the team seems focused on the immediate schedule.

“We are taking this one game at a time,” freshman Bria Goss said. “Our main focus right now is Coker.”

The Cats will host their only exhibition at Memorial Coliseum on Sunday against Coker College. Admission is free. After opening the regular season on the road against Morehead State, the Cats begin the regular-season home slate on Tuesday, Nov. 15 against Jacksonville State at 11 a.m.

The Cats will feature a deep and talented roster, returning four starters from last year as well as another top-10 recruiting class. Point guard Amber Smith, who missed all of last season because of injury, will also return for the Cats.

“This is an exciting time of year,” said Mitchell. “We have assembled a talented group of players. “Now the challenge is to see if we can form those players into a team.”