February 14, 2016

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No. 5 Kentucky recovers from loss to beat LSU

Published 9:31 am Monday, January 28, 2013

LEXINGTON UK coach Matthew Mitchell admitted Sunday his Wildcats confidence was shaken in a 55-50 loss at South Carolina Thursday, leaving him uncertain how they would react Sunday against a good LSU team.

He shouldnt have worried. The fifth-ranked Wildcats responded just fine, earning a hard-fought, well played, 73-60 win over the visiting Tigers at Memorial Coliseum.

Kentucky improved to 19-2 overall and 7-1 in the Southeastern Conference, while LSU slipped to 12-8 and 3-4.

For whatever reason, when you dont lose a lot, sometimes losses are harder to process, Mitchell said. I just didnt have a good feeling about how we were processing the loss.

Mitchell said his team practiced poorly both Friday and Saturday.

We werent particularly energetic or peppy, he said. So I was very worried about that loss lingering.

And thats what this team had been really good at. This teams been a great practice team. Theyve taken care of business. Theyve been very energetic. So this was an unusual two days of practice.

So one had the sense that Mitchells emotion was more of relief than sheer joy at Kentuckys sharp showing against LSU in a well-played game, reminiscent of a Sweet 16 or even Elite Eight kind of affair.

The lesson that we learned was even if youre not at your peak performance, or youre not feeling the best about yourself, you can still get your attitude right and beat a good team, Mitchell said. Im thrilled with this victory.

Sophomore forward/center Azia Bishop was the poster child, so to speak, of Mitchells team Sunday.

Bishop, by her own account, had practiced badly this week. But she was, arguably, the star of the game for UK, coming off the bench to score 17 points (on 7 of 10 from the field) and grab five rebounds.

Ive had a couple rough practices, and coach got on me a lot and told me to come out and play hard and produce off the bench, Bishop said.

I had a lot of fun. It was great to come out and produce for our team, knowing I had had a couple of rough weeks.

Bishop has played with an injured wrist the past two weeks, but the cast arrangement she was wearing vs. LSU clearly allowed her more mobility with the wrist.

She played with the kind of grit and tenacity that we need all of our players to play with, Mitchell said of Bishop.

Junior forward Samarie Walker added 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Wildcats, and senior swing player Adia Mathies added 15 points and five rebounds.

Theresa Plaisance, a 6-foot-5 junior center, led the Tigers with 19 points and eight rebounds. Senior guard Adrienne Webb added 18 points and freshman guard Danielle Ballard had 10 rebounds for LSU.

The Wildcats held the upper hand most of the afternoon, but didnt put it away until the final minute when the Tigers appeared to tire and UKs Walker and freshman guard Janee Thompson hit some big free throws.

Plaisance said Kentuckys superior depth was critical.

Their depth played a huge role, Plaisance said of the Wildcats. Their bench is as good as their starters.

The Wildcats are off until hosting an excellent Georgia team Sunday at 2.

Hopefully we can refresh a little bit this week, Mitchell said. The players just need to take a deep breath here. Theyve done a fantastic job halfway through our (SEC) schedule.

They just need to get a little bit of rest mentally, physically, and try to come back with a little pep in their step as we get ready for Georgia.