The University of Kentucky women’s basketball team has put together another challenging non-conference schedule in 2014-15, which features seven home games, including a matchup with Baylor in Rupp Arena, road games at Duke and Louisville, and a Thanksgiving tournament in the Virgin Islands. The Wildcats will face six teams that appeared in the NCAA Tournament last season and two teams that won their regular season and conference tournament championships.
UK, which is entering its 41st season of varsity women’s basketball and its eighth under head coach Matthew Mitchell, will begin with an exhibition match against the University of Pikeville, an NAIA program from Pikeville, Ky., on Nov. 6. Kentucky thrives in the friendly confines of Memorial Coliseum under Mitchell, going 78-7 over the last five seasons, including a 14-4 mark last year. UK has won 44 consecutive regular season nonconference games in Memorial Coliseum, dating back to Dec. 19, 2008.
“We work extremely hard to construct a schedule that will challenge our players and entertain our fans,” UK Hoops head coach Matthew Mitchell said. “I feel we have accomplished both of those objectives with our 2014-15 non-conference schedule as once again we will face some of the top programs in the country. The quality of our opponents will prepare our team for the rigors of Southeastern Conference play. We always want our team to be battle-tested before we enter conference play and this schedule will definitely provide us with many tough games. I know our fans will enjoy seeing our team compete at the highest level of college basketball. That is something the Big Blue Nation has come to expect from our team and this schedule delivers in that area. We look forward to preparing for the 2014-15 season.”
The Cats will open the 2014-15 regular season with a three-game homestand beginning with Appalachian State on Nov. 14. It will mark the first game between the Wildcats and the Mountaineers in school history. Following the home opener, UK will play host to the Baylor Lady Bears in Rupp Arena on Nov. 17 for its annual “Pack the House” event. UK and Baylor have become familiar opponents having played each other three times in the last two seasons, including twice last season. This year’s game is part of ESPN’s seventh annual College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon and set to tip at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
The Wildcats will return to Memorial Coliseum two days later to face Morehead State on Nov. 19 and then hit the road for the first time on Nov. 22 when they travel to Mount Pleasant, Mich., for a matchup with Central Michigan. Rounding out the month of November, UK will be a part of the Paradise Jam Island Tournament in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands from Nov. 27-29. The Wildcats are one of seven teams competing in the tournament that includes Clemson, Illinois, Ohio State, Oklahoma, South Florida and Wichita State. It marks the second time the Wildcats have participated in the Paradise Jam but its UK’s first regular-season tournament since playing in the Lady Eagle Thanksgiving Classic in 2010-11.
The month of December opens with a home contest vs. Northern Kentucky on Dec. 3, followed by a trip to intrastate rival, Louisville, on Dec. 7 in the KFC Yum! Center. UK has won the last three meetings in the rivalry, including a 69-64 win in Memorial Coliseum last season.
Rounding out the non-conference schedule features home games with the defending Sun Belt champion Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders on Dec. 12, Belmont on Dec. 14 and Tennessee State on Dec. 28. Road games at intrastate rival Louisville on Dec. 7 and Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium on Dec. 21 are highlights of the schedule.
Kentucky, which is fresh off its fourth Sweet 16 appearance in the last five years, returns seven letter winners, including key players in seniors Bria Goss (Indianapolis, Ind.) and Jennifer O’Neill (Bronx, N.Y.), junior Janee Thompson (Chicago) and sophomores Linnae Harper (Chicago) and Makayla Epps (Lebanon, Ky.). New additions to the roster this season include junior college transfer and 6-foot-6 center Ivana Jakubcova (Bratislava, Slovakia), freshman shooting guard Jaycee Coe (Gainesboro, Tenn.), freshman forward/center Alexis Jennings (Madison, Ala.) and freshman center Alyssa Rice (Reynoldsburg, Ohio). Sophomore forward Kyvin Goodin-Rogers (Lebanon, Ky.) also will be available for action after sitting out last season with a pulmonary embolism.
Game times are still to be determined and the SEC schedule is set to be released at a later date.
Season tickets are available for purchase for $65 online at UKAthletics.com/tickets or by calling the UK Ticket Office at 859-257-1818 or 1-800-928-2287. Lower level reserved tickets for UK’s game vs. Baylor in Rupp Arena on Nov. 17 are also available for only $9 by calling the UK Ticket Office. Seats will be assigned in September after the season ticket renewal deadline. All other single-game tickets will go on sale in late October.