Feb. 27, 2010
[NR/NR] Auburn (13-15, 4-11 SEC) vs. [16/14] Kentucky (23-5, 11-4 SEC)
When: Sunday, February 28 2 p.m. CT
Where: Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum (10,500) Auburn, Ala.
Radio: WMXA 96.7; Andy Burcham (play-by-play), Arnika Edwards (color)
Audio Webcast: AuburnTigers.com
Series: Auburn leads, 24-12 (9-5 in Auburn)
Last Meeting: Jan. 24, 2010 - 68-50, UK in Lexington, Ky.
Last Meeting in Auburn: Feb. 12, 2009 - 81-69, AU
Up Next: With the regular-season complete, Auburn will travel to Duluth, Ga., to compete in the first round of the SEC Tournament on March 4
AUBURN - The Auburn women's basketball team (13-15, 4-11 SEC) will return home Sunday as the Tigers take on No. 16 Kentucky (23-5, 11-4 SEC) in the regular-season finale and final game in Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum.
The Tigers are celebrating the final game with a weekend reunion of former players and staff members.
"It is a big weekend for us, not only because it's the last game, but it is the reunion weekend, also," said Auburn head coach Nell Fortner. "We have a lot of people coming back, a lot of great players that played some great games in Beard-Eaves. That is something to be proud of and we are going to come out and try to represent ourselves as well as we can like they represented Auburn."
The Tigers played their first game in Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum on Jan. 11, 1974 in a 69-31 win over Alabama. Auburn played sparingly over the next few years and did not play in the Coliseum full-time until Joe Ciampi arrived as head coach in 1979.
Since then, Auburn has put together a 348-72 record in its home facility. Fortner has been at Auburn for six years, compiling a 52-23 record in BEMC, but has seen six of the top 25 women's crowds in the facility under her watch. Included in those games are last season's Southeastern Conference-clinching win over Arkansas and Fortner's personal-favorite, the sellout win over Tennessee.
"The Tennessee game had a few parts attached to it in seeing what this program has built and accomplished, that it finally came to be," said Fortner. "Our goal was to fill the Coliseum up and we actually did it. Beyond that, we established a great core base of fans for women's basketball here that we can continue to build on.
"We probably got a whole lot of new fans that day and it has carried over into this year. Even though this year wasn't like last year, they have been very supportive and very loyal fans, so we are excited to move them over to the new arena."
Sunday's game will also serve as Senior Day for Auburn. The Tigers will honor managers Michael Cauley, Courtney Davis and Blake Smalley, along with KeKe Carrier - the lone senior on Auburn's roster this season.
"I am excited, in a way, but I am going to miss a lot of Auburn and this is the last time that everybody's going to play in the Coliseum," said Carrier. "This is my last home game here so I'm excited to finish it out with a win, and even just for the season to get a win and continue to keep moving forward and keeping ourselves motivated. It's going to be an exciting day. We have a lot going on Sunday so I'm excited about everything."
Getting a win will be no easy task as Kentucky enters the game having clinched the No. 2 overall seed in next week's SEC Tournament in Duluth, Ga. The Wildcats assured themselves of second after dropping an 81-65 decision Thursday at fourth-ranked Tennessee.
This will be the second meeting between Auburn and Kentucky as the Wildcats picked up the 68-50 win over the Tigers on Jan. 24 in Lexington, Ky. UK used its up-tempo defense in the game, scoring 30 points off 25 Auburn turnovers for the win.
"Kentucky is such a good team. They have had a tremendous season and we have to be prepared for a lot of things," said Fortner. "They have some great players, I think a player of the year candidate in Victoria Dunlap and a point guard that's one of the best point guards in the league in Amber Smith. They're a tough team and they're tough to prepare for."
Prior to the loss at Tennessee, the Wildcats had won 10 of its previous 11 games. Kentucky posted a dominant 17-0 record at home this season with all five losses coming on the road, something that could turn in Auburn's favor.
Leading the Wildcats this season is junior Victoria Dunlap, the younger sister of former Auburn football player King Dunlap. She ranks fourth in the SEC with 17.7 points per game and third in rebounding with 8.6 per game. She also leads the league in steals with 3.1 per game and is fifth in blocked shots with 1.9 per outing.
Behind her is A'dia Mathies with 12.5 points and 4.8 rebounds. Point guard Amber Smith averages 9.5 points and 4.2 assists, ranking sixth in the SEC.
Kentucky has stormed through the season relying on its defense as the Wildcats average 11.4 steals and 4.1 blocks per game, forcing 23.4 opponent turnovers per game. Five different Wildcats have 30 or more steals this season.
"We have to be very aggressive in attacking the basket and in attacking their presses and attacking their defense," said Fortner. "You have got to be very aggressive or they will just chew you up and spit you out before you know it. It's all about being able to handle their aggression."
As a team, Kentucky shoots 41.7 percent from the field and 31.3 percent from 3-point range. The Wildcats average out-rebounding their opponents by 2.1 per game and have a +7.7 turnover margin, committing only 15.8 per game.
Auburn is coming off a hearbreaking 65-61 loss at Ole Miss Thursday. The loss followed one of Auburn's best defensive efforts in the past seven years. The Tiger defense stepped up to hold the Lady Bulldogs to their lowest scoring output of the season. Auburn forced 18 MSU turnovers with the help of 11 steals in the game. It also marked the fewest points for an SEC opponent to score against Auburn since the Tigers defeated Arkansas, 64-36, on Jan. 26, 2003.
Leading the way for Auburn this season is junior Alli Smalley with 15.1 points per game, ranking sixth in the SEC. Right behind her is senior KeKe Carrier with 12.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game. Carrier ranks in the top 15 in the SEC in all three categories, including a third-place position in blocks.
Since the start of SEC play, freshman Morgan Toles has stepped up her role, averaging 7.7 points and 4.6 assists per game. She posted a career-best 10 assists against Georgia. Redshirt junior Jordan Greenleaf is averaging 6.9 rebounds and 7.9 points in SEC play. She is also making a case for All-Defensive team as she ranks T9th in steals (1.6) and T9th in blocks (0.9) in SEC-only games.
The Tigers average shooting 41.4 percent from the field and 31.7 percent from 3-point range. Auburn out-rebounds its opponents by 4.6 per game. AU also averages 4.9 blocked shots per game.
In celebration of the final regular-season game in Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum, the first 500 fans through the door will receive a Coliseum replica. Fans are also encouraged to participate in the "War on Hunger" Food Drive and can receive free admission with the donation of two or more non-perishable food items.
The doors at Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum will open at 12:30 p.m. Fans that cannot make it to the game can also follow along with GameTracker and an audio Webcast 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.
Auburn Women's Basketball Quick Hitters
Sunday marks Auburn's final regular-season game in Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum
Senior KeKe Carrier is 11 points away from reaching 1,000 career points
Auburn is coming off a 65-61 loss at Ole Miss; Kentucky is coming off an 81-65 loss at Tennessee
Auburn lost at Kentucky, 68-50, earlier this season on Jan. 24
Last time in Auburn, the Tigers downed the Wildcats, 81-69, on Feb. 12, 2009
Auburn leads the all-time series with Kentucky, 24-12, 9-5 when playing in Auburn
Auburn is 33-13 all-time against teams from the state of Kentucky
Auburn is 90-150 all-time against ranked teams, Nell Fortner is 9-33
The Tigers are 2-2 against teams ranked 16th, and 2-1 against ranked Kentucky teams
Auburn has a 178-150 all-time record in the SEC, Nell Fortner has a 39-46 record in conference play
Auburn is 6-1 all-time on Feb. 28; Nell Fortner has never coached a game on Feb. 28
The Tigers are 145-84 all-time in the month of February, 21-23 under Fortner
The Tigers are 7-6 at home this season, 2-5 in SEC play
Auburn is 77-2 under Fortner when scoring 70 or more points
Kentucky junior Victoria Dunlap is the younger sister of former Auburn football player King Dunlap
UK Assistant AD for Women's Basketball Pam Stackhouse served as an assistant under Nell Fortner at Purdue
Auburn assistant Kerry Cremeans got her coaching start at UK as a grad assistant from 1994-96
Nell Fortner is 1-2 all-time against Kentucky head coach Matthew Mitchell
Youth Movement: Six of Auburn's nine active players are either freshmen or sophomores
Freshman point guard Morgan Toles tallied 10 assists vs. Georgia, becoming the first AU freshman in 17 years to to so
In the win over Liberty, Auburn's front-court out-scored the back court for the first time since Feb. 10, 2008; the Tigers repeated the effort at South Alabama, vs. Valparaiso and at San Diego State
Alli Smalley scored her 1,000th career point in the second half against Vanderbilt, becoming the 25th player to do so
KeKe Carrier grabbed her 500th career rebound at LSU, Jordan Greenleaf grabbed her 500th rebound vs. Alabama
For the first time this season, Auburn played with 10 players against Alabama
Nicolle Thomas scored 27 points against Florida State, the highest point output for an Auburn freshman since 1987
The Tigers tied the Auburn single-game blocks record against Alabama A&M with 17
Freshman Morgan Toles and sophomores Chantel Hilliard and Parrisha Simmons earned their first career starts in the season-opener against Troy; freshman Nicolle Thomas earned her first career start against Alabama A&M
Morgan Toles and Nicolle Thomas started against Alabama A&M, marking the first time for Auburn to have multiple freshmen starters since March 3, 2006 against Tennessee in the SEC Tournament (Boddie, Bonner, Carrier)
KeKe Carrier, Auburn's lone senior, started against Alabama A&M - her first since Feb. 11, 2007
The Tigers are beginning their final season in Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum before moving to the new Auburn Arena
Auburn was picked eighth in the SEC Preseason Media and Coaches' polls, LSU (media) and Tennessee (coaches) were picked to win the league this season
Alli Smalley was picked the the Coaches' Preseason All-SEC Second Team
Nell Fortner is beginning her sixth season at Auburn, marking her longest tenure at any job
The Tigers welcome four newcomers: Blanche Alverson, Morgan Toles, Nicolle Thomas, Pascale West
Auburn begins the season with 6-7 KeKe Carrier and 6-8 Pascale West, two of the three tallest players in the SEC
AU is without Reneisha Hobbs after suffering an ACL injury, leaving the Tigers with a roster of 10
Auburn will be a first- and second-round host of the 2011 NCAA Tournament in the new Auburn Arena
Auburn is not ranked. Kentucky is ranked 16th in the Associated Press poll and 14th in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' poll.
NEXT UP FOR THE TIGERS
Auburn will head to Duluth, Ga., for the first round of the SEC Tournament on March 4.
Auburn is in its 39th season of women's basketball and sports an all-time record of 778-344... AU has made 18 NCAA Tournament appearances, two WNIT appearances and three Final Fours in the program's history... Head Coach Nell Fortner is in her sixth season at Auburn with a 131-83 career record and a 114-72 record on the Plains... The Tigers are coming off a 30-4 season in 2008-09 with their first SEC title in 20 years and its second NCAA Tournament appearance in as many seasons.
FINAL GAME IN BEARD-EAVES
Sunday's game is the final regular-season game for the Auburn women's basketball team in Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum. Since 1979, the Tigers have tallied a 348-72 record in their home facility. Auburn head coach Nell Fortner has a 52-23 record in BEMC.
LOOKING BACK... FIRST GAME IN BEARD-EAVES
The Auburn women's basketball team played in Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum for the first time on Jan. 11, 1974 with the Tigers taking a 69-31 win over in-state rival Alabama. Current PA announcer Susan Nunnelly, who was Auburn's head coach at the time, guided the Tigers to the victory.
This will be the 37th meeting between Auburn and Kentucky with Auburn holding a 24-12 series advantage. Auburn has won nine of the 14 meetings in Auburn and nine of the last 12 meetings overall. Head coach Nell Fortner owns a 4-3 record against the Wildcats.
LAST TIME AGAINST KENTUCKY (Jan. 24, 2010)
Kentucky's defense proved to be too much for Auburn Sunday as the Tigers dropped a 68-50 decision to the 25th-ranked Wildcats at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Ky. KeKe Carrier came off the bench to lead the Tigers with 11 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots.
The Wildcats forced 25 Auburn turnovers in the game, turning them into 30 points and pulled down 15 offensive rebounds for 13 second-chance points in the win.
Kentucky took a 5-0 start from the opening tip and never looked back, leading by as many as 20 points in the game.
The Wildcats led by 20 with 4:11 left to play in the first half, but Auburn capped off the period on an 8-2 run to close the gap to 14 by halftime. Carrier scored all eight points in the stretch as The Tigers went into the locker room down 38-24 at the half.
Auburn kept the momentum going in the second half, cutting the lead to 10 with 12:59 left to play, but turnovers stung the Tigers as UK forced four in a two minute time span to build the lead back up to 19, 54-35, with 8:19 left in the game. The Tigers would come no closer than 15 points in the final minutes as Kentucky held on for the 68-50 victory.
Blanche Alverson, Jordan Greenleaf and Alli Smalley all followed Carrier with nine points each. Parrisha Simmons pulled down a game-high eight rebounds in the loss along with her six points.
LAST TIME AGAINST KENTUCKY IN AUBURN (Feb. 12, 2009)
The No. 5 Auburn women's basketball team rode a 23-point lead in the first half to an 81-69 victory over conference foe Kentucky Feb. 12 at Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum.
Auburn's first-half lead proved to be a necessity in the second period of play as Kentucky surged to within six points of the lead, but the Tigers held strong. Leading the Tigers was senior Whitney Boddie who tallied 20 points, one shy of her career-high, and 10 assists as she posted her eighth of the season and second straight double-double.
Joining Boddie in double figures were the other four Auburn starters, marking just the second time that season for all five starters to finish in double figures. DeWanna Bonner collected 17 points during the game and also pulled down nine rebounds, which places her fifth all-time at Auburn in career rebounding.
Also finishing with double digits was Sherell Hobbs with her 15 points and three rebounds, Alli Smalley with 11 points and seven rebounds, and Trevesha Jackson, who scored 10 and grabbed another six boards.
Leading the Kentucky squad was Roddy with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Behind Roddy's team-leading performance were Amber Smith and Amani Franklin as they both logged 15 points and four rebounds. Victoria Dunlap rounded out the Wildcats with 13 points and four rebounds.
LAST TIME OUT FOR AUBURN
Ole Miss went to the free throw line 21 times Feb. 25, connecting on 19 of them as the Rebels squeaked out a 65-61 Senior Night win over Auburn. The Tigers tried to play Senior Night spoilers for the second game in a row, but fell short in the final road game of the season.
Alli Smalley and Jordan Greenleaf scored 16 points each to lead Auburn in the game. Smalley moved into 22nd all-time in career scoring with the total, giving her 1,141 on her career to pass Tiffany Krantz.
Taking on one of the best offenses in the Southeastern Conference, along with the league's leading scorer in Bianca Thomas, Auburn had to rely on its defensive pressure to stay in the game.
The Tigers tallied seven steals and six blocks, forcing 12 Rebel turnovers. Auburn turned the turnovers into 11 points on the other end of the floor.
Thomas scored a game-high 22 points on 7-of-16 shooting. She was held to just 1-of-6 from 3-point range but connected on seven of her eight free throw attempts. Elizabeth Robertson finished with 11 points on 3-of-6 shooting from 3-point range while Shantell Black scored 10 points.
Following Smalley and Greenleaf was freshman point guard Morgan Toles with 10 points along with her five assists. Fellow freshman Blanche Alverson followed with nine while KeKe Carrier pulled down a team-high seven rebounds.
LAST TIME OUT FOR KENTUCKY
Tennessee jumped out to a 23-9 lead in the fisrt 10 minutes and never looked back as the Lady Vols clinched the SEC regular-season title with an 81-65 victory over Kentucky.
Tennessee extended its lead to as many as 27 points late in the second half, but the Wildcats out-scored the Lady Vols 19-10 in the final minutes to close the gap to 17.
Victoria Dunlap led UK with 22 points and 10 rebounds for her eighth double-double of the season. Keyla Snowden followed with 14 points while Amber Smith tallied nine points and five assists.
Five Lady Vols finished in double figures, led by Kelley Cain with 14. She also posted six rebounds and seven blocked shots. Glory Johnson scored 13 points, followed by Angie Bjorklund and Shekinna Stricklen with 12 each. Alyssia Brewer came off the bench for 10 points for the Lady Vols.
AUBURN VS. THE SEC
Auburn is 178-150 all-time in Southeastern Conference Games. Head coach Nell Fortner holds a 39-46 record in the conference.
Nell Fortner VS. MATTHEW MITCHELL
This will be the fourth meeting between Nell Fortner and Kentucky's Matthew Mitchell with Mitchell holding the 2-1 series advantage.
Fortner is in her sixth season at Auburn and seventh overall as a collegiate head coach, holding a 131-83 career record. Mitchell is in his third season at Kentucky, fifth overall as a head coach, and owns a 86-66 career record.
AGAINST THE BLUE GRASS STATE
Auburn holds a 33-13 record against teams from the state of Kentucky. Records against Kentucky teams: Louisville (2-1), Murray State (1-0), Eastern Kentucky (2-0), Kentucky (24-12) and Western Kentucky (4-0).
Kentucky junior forward Victoria Dunlap, the team leader in points, rebounds, blocks and steals, is the younger sister of former Auburn football player King Dunlap. King played on Auburn's offensive line from 2004-07 and was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL Draft.
NELL'S COACHING TREE
Auburn head coach Nell Fortner should be familiar with Kentucky Assistant Athletics Director for Women's Basketball Pam Stackhouse, after all, she hired Stackhouse in 1996 as a member of her Purdue coaching staff.
Stackhouse coached alongside Fortner, current Auburn assistant Kerry Cremeans and Carolyn Peck, who led Purdue to a national title as head coach in 1999.
Fortner's Boilermakers posted a 17-11 record in 2007, winning the Big Ten title and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Prior to getting her first full-time coaching position at Purdue, Auburn assistant coach Kerry Cremeans got her start in coaching at Kentucky as a graduate assistant from 1994-96.
During that time, Cremeans worked under current Mississippi State head coach Sharon Fanning (1994-95) and former WNBA coach Bernadette Mattox (1995-96).
ON THIS DATE. . .
When playing on Feb. 28, Auburn has a 6-1 all-time record. The Tigers' last victory on the date came in 2002 with a 70-57 victory against Florida. The only time Auburn lost on Feb. 28 was in 2008 when the Tigers fell to Vanderbilt, 73-57.
AGAINST THE RANKED
Auburn holds an 90-150 all-time record against teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. Head Coach Nell Fortner is 9-33 against ranked teams at Auburn.
The Tigers are 2-2 all-time against teams ranked 16th in the country, Fortner has never played a team ranked 16th.
The last game for the Tigers against a team ranked 16th in the country came on Jan. 17, 2002 in a 60-49 loss to Georgia. The last win came on Jan. 6, 1990 in a 77-60 win over LSU.
Auburn is 2-5 against teams ranked in the AP poll this season after wins at #11 LSU (64-62, OT) and against Georgia (67-53). The losses have come to #15 Texas A&M (79-59), #12 Florida State (82-67), #21 Vanderbilt (61-60), #5 Tennessee (85-56) and #23 LSU (75-51).
MORE RANKED. . .
The Tigers are 2-1 all-time when facing an AP-ranked Kentucky squad. Head coach Nell Fortner has never faced a UK team ranked in the AP poll. The last meeting came on Jan. 16, 1993 when ninth-ranked Auburn downed #24 Kentucky, 52-49.
At Mississippi State on Feb. 21, Auburn held the Lady Bulldogs to just 36 total points. It was the lowest point total by an Auburn opponent since an 80-36 Tiger win at Sma Houston State on Dec. 19, 2007. It was the lowest by an SEC opponent since a 64-36 win at Arkansas on Jan. 26, 2003.
BREAKING THE TOP 25
On Jan. 31, 4,568 fans showed up to Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum to see Auburn defeat ninth-ranked Georgia, 67-53. The crowd marked the 25th-largest to ever see a women's basketball game at the BEMC. Three of Auburn's top-25 crowds have been against Georgia and six of the top-25 crowds have come in the Nell Fortner era.
MOVING ON UP
Junior guard Alli Smalley (1,141 points) has been cruising up the career scoring rankings. She broke into the top 30 at the LSU game and three games later was ranked 24th all-time.
Entering Sunday's game, she needs 35 points to tie Ruthie Bolton (1985-89) for 21st place. She is also seven 3-pointers away from tying Natasha Brackett (2001-05) for second all-time in career 3-pointers.
Senior KeKe Carrier made her way into the top 30 on Feb. 4 against South Carolina, scoring 14 points to tie Whitney Boddie (2005-09) for 30th all-time with 951 points. She is currently ranked 26th with 989 points and is 22 points from tying Helene Baroody (1995-97) for 25th.
Of the nine active players on Auburn's roster, six are freshman or sophomores. KeKe Carrier is the lone senior on the roster with Alli Smalley and Jordan Greenleaf filling out the active junior class.
The remainder of the roster is made up of three sophomores and three freshman. Auburn has started multiple freshmen in 10 games this season with Morgan Toles, Nicolle Thomas and Blanche Alverson earning the starting nod at least once.
GOING TO THE O-BOARDS
Auburn enters the game as the best offensive rebounding team in the SEC in SEC-only games, averaging 15.4 per game. Three of the top six individual offensive rebounders in the SEC are also Auburn players as Jordan Greenleaf ranks first (3.2), followed by KeKe Carrier (3.1) tied for second and Parrisha Simmons (2.7) tied for sixth. The Tigers have scored 192 second-chance points in SEC games, averaging 12.8 per game.
EXCITING SEC GAMES
Entering the games of Feb. 28, there have a total of 90 SEC games played and 40 of them have been decided by single digits! That's nearly half (44.4 percent) of all SEC games played this season. Each of the 12 league teams has been involved in at least three of those thrillers. There have been seven overtime games, with one needing triple-overtime and two needing double-overtime to determine the winner.
Auburn has had five games decided by three points or less in the SEC this season and accounts for two of the seven overtime games.
Auburn is 145-84 all-time in the month of February, including a 21-23 mark under Nell Fortner (records begin in 1978-79 season, not all dates provided prior to or during that season).
MAKING IT HOME
Nell Fortner enters her sixth season as Auburn's head coach, marking her longest tenure at any position in her career. The longest Fortner had stayed at a job prior to Auburn came from 1990-95 while she was an assistant coach at Louisiana Tech under legendary head coach Leon Barmore.