Women's Basketball Set For Regular-Season Finale Vs. #20/20 Kentucky
Feb. 26, 2011
[NR/NR] Auburn (15-13, 8-7 SEC) vs. [22/NR] Kentucky (21-7, 10-5 SEC)
When: Sunday, February 27 1 p.m. CT
AUBURN - Senior Alli Smalley will play her final regular-season game in Auburn Arena Sunday as the Tigers (15-13, 8-7 SEC) host No. 20/20 Kentucky (21-7, 10-5 SEC). Tipoff is set for 1 p.m., and the game will be broadcast live on the SEC Network and ESPN3.com with Cara Capuano and former Duke great Abby Waner calling the action.
As part of the War on Hunger Food Drive, fans will receive free admission with the donation of two or more non-perishable food items. The first 500 fans will also receive free t-shirt, courtesy of Verizon Wireless.
As part of Sunday's Senior Day ceremony, the Tigers will honor manager Wes Kitchens, former player and current student assistant Reneisha Hobbs and four-year starter Smalley.
"Alli has had a tremendous career here; it is just hard to believe that she is a senior," said Auburn head coach Nell Fortner. "She has been a pure joy to coach and to watch grow as a young woman. She is going to be a tremendous success out in the world."
Along with honoring the seniors, the game is also important for what it means in the Southeastern Conference standings with the league tournament starting next week. Kentucky is currently in a tie for second place with Georgia while Auburn is in a tie for fifth with LSU and South Carolina. Depending on the outcome of Sunday's game around the conference, Auburn could move up as high as a tie for fourth, but fall no lower than seventh.
With so much on the line Sunday, Fortner knows how important a great home crowd would be.
"We would love to pack the house," said Fortner. "It is an incredibly important game for us on so many levels. For the win, for the postseason, it is a big game."
After defeating Auburn on Feb. 3, Kentucky held an 18-4 record on the season, but has struggled through the rest of the month with a 3-3 record since the game. The Wildcats have re-grouped recently to win their last two games to place themselves in a tie for second in the SEC.
Kentucky dominates on the defensive end of the floor, forcing 24.5 opponent turnovers per game while collecting 11.3 steals per game. The Wildcats hold their opponents to 60.8 points per game.
"Kentucky can run it up and down," said Fortner. "They can press you hard and they have terrific athlete and player in Victoria Dunlap. They just have a lot of weapons - they come at you off the bench hard, and we have to be prepared for all of that."
Dunlap, the SEC's leader in scoring and steals, leads the Wildcats with 16.6 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.3 steals per game. A'Dia Mathies follows with 13.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and a team-best 2.8 assists per game.
As a team, Kentucky shoots 39.3 percent from the field and 31.6 percent from 3-point range, averaging 5.6 three-pointers per game. Seven different Wildcats have hit at least 10 three-pointers this season, led by Keyla Snowden with 53.
"Kentucky is a very good team," said Fortner. "They have great quickness, speed, they have great depth and they are playing very well right now, so it is going to be a tough battle."
"We expect another good game. They beat us pretty good up in Lexington, and we definitely don't want a repeat of that. We will go into it prepared, we know the importance of the game, and we'll be ready to play."
February has not been kind to Auburn with a 2-5 record, but after a 63-58 win at No. 22 Georgia on Thursday, the Tigers are focusing on a push for the post-season.
Auburn has lived off their defense this season, averaging 8.9 steals and 4.0 blocks per game. Auburn opponents average 18.9 turnovers per game with the Tigers scoring an average of 17.9 points per game off of turnovers.
Senior Alli Smalley leads the team with 11.6 points per game, followed by sophomore Blanche Alverson with 10.9 per game. Smalley and Alverson have also combined to average 3.2 3-pointers made per game.
Alverson also leads the team in rebounding with 4.5 boards per game, followed by freshman Jassany Williams with 3.8 per game. Sophomore Morgan Toles averages 8.6 points and 5.1 assists per game, good enough for first in the SEC.
For fans that cannot make it to the game, GameTracker will be available at AuburnTigers.com. Tiger fans can listen to the game live on WMXA 96.7 FM with play-by-play from Andy Burcham and color commentary from Arnika Edwards. An audio Webcast will also be available at AuburnTigers.com.
Auburn University will host the first and second rounds of the 2011 NCAA Women's Basketball Championship, March 20 and 22 at Auburn Arena. Tickets are available now at AUBTix.com.
Follow Auburn women's basketball on Twitter at twitter.com/AuburnWBB.
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