After earning its school-record tying 13th Southeastern Conference win with a commanding 78-65 victory over No. 8 Tennessee on Senior Day, seventh-ranked Kentucky earned a first-round bye in the SEC Tournament for the fourth consecutive season with a No 2 seed.
The Wildcats are preparing to square off against the winner of Vanderbilt (No. 7 seed) and Missouri (No. 10 seed) in the quarterfinals on Friday. During the regular season, UK defeated both of its possible opponents. The Wildcats handed the Commodores a 75-53 loss in Nashville, Tenn., on Feb. 10. UK also defeated Missouri on the road, winning 69-43 in Columbia, Mo., on Jan. 13.
The Wildcats have had another remarkable season under the direction of head coach Matthew Mitchell. Mitchell, who became UK's all-time winningest coach with the win over Tennessee, has led the Cats to a school-record fourth straight 25-win season with a 25-4 overall record, including a 13-3 mark in SEC play. Another reason for UK's success has been the outstanding play of senior All-America candidate and SEC Co-Player of the Year A'dia Mathies. The 5-foot-9 guard leads the team in scoring (16.0), 3-point field goals made (60) and 3-point field goal percentage (.403), and has reached double-figures in 27-of-29 games, including 20 in a row. Mathies and fellow senior Brittany Henderson make up the winningest class in school history having charted a 106-28 overall record, including a 64-3 mark at home.
In the front court, All-SEC First Team selection DeNesha Stallworth and All-SEC Second Team and All-Defensive Team honoree Samarie Walker are giving Kentucky a dynamic inside presence this season. The duo combines to average 22.0 points, 14.6 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game.