Women's hoops hosts No. 19 Kentucky

Published: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 12:31 a.m.

Florida has lost consecutive games for the first time this year and aims to halt the run today when the team plays host to 19th-ranked Kentucky in the O’Connell Center beginning at 7 p.m. This is the final non-televised game of the year for the Gators.

The radio broadcast of the game can be heard live in Gainesville on WBXY-FM 99.5.

After each of Florida’s first five losses, the team rallied in its next game for an impressive win. The Gators lost their sixth game to Tennessee and looked to be responding with a huge road victory at Georgia on Sunday, jumping out to a 16-point second-half lead. The Bulldogs, however, staged a remarkable comeback and handed the Gators a deflating 70-64 setback.

The Gators had complied a modest nine-game home winning streak that included an 8-0 mark this year and ended with the loss to Tennessee. It was tied for the fourth-longest home winning streak in program history.

In three-plus years under head coach Amanda Butler, Florida is 46-14 overall (76.7 percent) at home, including an 8-1 record this year.

Florida dropped a heartbreaking 70-64 decision at Georgia on Sunday. The Gators led by as many 16 points with 14:17 remaining in the game. From that point forward, Georgia sank six three-pointers and Florida turned the ball over nine times that resulted in 16 Lady Bulldog points en route to the win.

Kentucky enters Thursday’s game riding a two-game winning streak, having earned home wins against South Carolina (Jan. 13, 66-48) and Mississippi State (Jan. 16, 72-60). The Wildcats jumped out to a commanding 42-21 halftime lead and held on during the Lady Bulldogs’ second-half rally, when the outscored the hosts 39-30.

Florida holds a slim 22-20 all-time lead against Kentucky, including a 10-7 advantage over the Wildcats in games played in Gainesville. The Gators’ most recent win in the series was a 74-59 victory in Gainesville on Jan. 29, 2009. Kentucky has won four of the last six versus the Gators.

After dropping its first two SEC games (at Arkansas, 78-67 and to Georgia, 61-59), Kentucky is looking every bit like the league’s second-best team, as predicted in the SEC Preseason Poll conducted by both the coaches and media. The Wildcats enter this week’s action ranked third in the country in turnover margin (+8.47) and 24th in steals per game (12.2 pg).

UK senior forward Victoria Dunlap is the reigning SEC Player of the Year and is poised to repeat as she leads the league in all-games scoring (17.7 ppg) and steals (3.4 pg), while ranking tied-for-third in rebounding (9.3 pg) and third in field goal percentage (48.6 percent). Sophomore guard A’dia Mathies, last year’s SEC Freshman of the Year, is directing UK’s potent offensive attack by dishing 2.8 assists per game, while contributing 14.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Center Bernisha Pinkett was named this week’s SEC Freshman of the Week after averaging 15.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in two SEC wins.

Jordan Jones leads the Gator scoring effort, recording 9.9 points per game, hitting a team-leading 38 three-pointers and playing 32.3 minutes per outing.

Azania Stewart is Florida’s leading rebounder with 6.4 per game and is tops with a 52.5 percent field goal mark (Stewart led the SEC in field goal percentage last year, 61.9 percent). Her 28 blocked shots is one ahead of Jennifer George’s 27 swats.

Lanita Bartley is dishing 3.4 assists and 1.9 steals, while finding her way to the free throw a team-best 67 times.

Through five SEC games, junior newcomer Deana Allen is averaging team-bests of 9.0 points and 5.8 rebounds, including her 14 point-13-rebound performance against Georgia on Sunday.

Eleven of Florida’s 19 games this season have been decided by 10 points or fewer, with seven being six-point-or-less differences.

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