Cats can’t conquer Lady Vols



In most of No. 15 UK’s (18-5, 7-3 Southeastern Conference) 23 games this season the Cats have been able to rise to the top. But when it faced No. 4 Tennessee (22-2, 10-0 SEC) the Cats couldn’t do the same.

Tennessee outrebounded the smaller Cats 45-23, blocked four shots and held on for a 73-67 win in front of a raucous 7,126 fans, a Memorial Coliseum season high.

“I’m real disappointed we lost that game,” UK head coach Matthew Mitchell said. “I’m really, really disappointed. It seemed like in the critical times Tennessee was able to make a few more plays, wish we executed a little bit better and won the game.”

The Cats’ size was a problem going into the season, with its tallest starter being 6-foot-2, but after UK was only outrebounded once in its last six games, it seemed the Cats had turned the corner.

That is, until Tennessee game to town. The Vols have five players 6-foot-2 or taller, four of which played and tallied 30 rebounds.

The Vols also scored 38 points in the paint.

Mitchell said Sunday he was concerned with Tennessee’s size but after the loss he wasn’t making excuses.

“I think (size) is a big factor but it makes you have to be sharper in other areas,” Mitchell said. “There is nothing you can do about the rosters, they are what they are, they have who they have and we have who we have.”

When UK went into the half with a 33-30 lead, UK senior forward Victoria Dunlap led all scorers with 16 points and appeared to be on her way to another solid game, until the Vols’ size and physicality came into effect.

“They went zone and they’re just so big with the zone and that was a good adjustment for them,” Mitchell said. “They paid more attention to (Dunlap) and got bigger people on her.”

Dunlap finished the game with 20 points on 2-7 shooting in the second half.

Outside of Dunlap’s great first half, the entire UK team was forcing Tennessee to play a game it wasn’t comfortable playing. Tennessee had 17 turnovers at halftime and only three assists.

Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt said halftime was the best thing to happen to the Vols in the game.

“I loved the fact we had halftime,” Summitt said. “We definitely addressed the (turnover) issue and everyone was a lot more focused and shortened their passes and they did a much better job of getting the ball inside.”

Despite not forcing as many turnovers in the second half, UK had its chances to win the game late.

After falling behind by 10 points with 13:45 to play in the game, sophomore guard A’dia Mathies free throws put UK ahead 59-58 with 6:10 remaining.

But then Tennessee guard Meighan Simmons took over. Opposite of Dunlap, after only scoring six points in the first half she finished with 15 points, including nine of Tennessee’s final 16 points.

Summitt’s record improves to 45-7 against UK.