Game 9: Gophers Host Kentucky (12-7-22)

Ignatius L Hoops

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Last season on February 10th, Kyra Elzy’s Wildcats were 2-8 in the SEC following a 59-50 home loss to South Carolina. The second-year head coach was headed for a losing season in Lexington. And then things got crazy. The Wildcats, led by Rhyne Howard and Dre-una Edwards, won their final six conference games to finish 8-8. Even better, they capped a four-game sweep through the SEC tournament with a championship game victory over South Carolina. Edwards nailed a three pointer with 4 seconds remaining completing a double-digit comeback and wresting a 64-62 victory from the future national champions.

Then it was over. Kentucky was ousted by Princeton 62-69 in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Reality returned.

This year’s Wildcats were picked for 7th in the SEC; but with Howard and Edwards gone, they bear little resemblance to last year’s club. While Kentucky is 6-1, their lone loss was to the only notable team they’ve faced, Virginia Tech 74-82. The other wins were over Radford 3-5, Morehead State 4-5, Coastal Carolina 2-5, Bellarmine 2-6, Dayton 0-8, and UNC Greensboro 4-4.

Kyra Elzy’s coaching staff is better known than her early season opponents. It includes former Arizona head coach Niya Butts, former Wake Forest head coach Jen Hoover and as special assistant to the head coach Gail Goestenkors. Basketball brain power be damned. It’s time to see if the Gophers can engineer a power five winning streak of their own.
 

Ragnor

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They appear to be a mediocre rebounding team at 220 in the country (309 defensive & 84 offensive) but they are fantastic at forcing turnovers #7 in the country (>25/game). Will be a good test for our point guards to make sure they are making good choices. Kentucky's 3 point shooting is #317 in the country. I think it will be a good game. If the gophers can limit turnovers to under 15 I think we win.
 

whalenfan

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Its hard to take much from Kentucky's schedule this year, the teams they have beat have combined to go 8-33 so far (best win according to the NET ranking is against Coastal Carolina who's 213) but they did play a competitive game against a really good VTech team. They look like a really athletic team with a good defense and a suspect offense.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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A quick read on Kentucky's point guard Jada Walker:

A freshman rarely enters the collegiate scene as a good player, but Jada Walker did. A sophomore is almost never a great player, but Jada Walker is proving to be one.

In Kentucky’s 82-56 win over the UNC Greensboro Spartans on Sunday afternoon, Walker left fans with a performance to remember. The 5-foot-7 guard dropped 20 points and four assists while shooting 7-9 from the field and 1-2 from beyond the arc. The stunning performance is just another highlight in Walker’s young, but already illustrious career.

Jada Walker can’t be stopped​

Head coach Kyra Elzy discussed her star point guard’s game after Kentucky’s win on Sunday.

She set the tone for us offensively and defensively, you know, asked her to play downhill and she started the game that way,” Elzy said during the postgame press conference.

Walker’s performance is even more impressive when you realize she played through illness.

“I was teasing her, she’s been under the weather, and I said, ‘Well, maybe you can stay sick a little bit longer if you can’t breathe and can score 20 and play defense like that.’ But, you know, she’s just tough,” Elzy said.

Constantly improving​

Standout performances are nothing new for Walker. The Virginia native averaged 10.4 points per game in her rookie season, connecting on 41.4% of her shots from the field and 35.5% of her 3-point attempts. Her impressive debut campaign earned her a spot on the All-SEC Freshmen Team.

As excellent as her freshman year was, Walker’s sophomore season has been far superior. After the win on Sunday, Walker is up to 14.9 points per game. Although the 4.5-point increase is nice, Walker’s efficiency is what has really changed.

Walker is shooting a wild 56.7% from the field and 43.8% from downtown this season. Moreover, Walker is connecting on six percent more of her free-throw attempts than last year. After the game, KSR asked the stud sophomore what’s been different for her this season.

“Probably just my pace and then my shot selections that I’ve been taking in game are smarter, like, when to shoot and when not to shoot,” Walker said during the postgame press conference.


Jada Walker’s mental game​

While Elzy agreed with her starting point guard’s sentiments, she put an even further emphasis on Walker’s mental development.

“[Walker] can go down the floor, call the plays, understands what we’re looking for offensively and has confidence without looking back at me that she can get them in an offense. That’s where she’s improved this year,” Elzy said.

Walker will need all this confidence and then some for the upcoming week. On Wednesday, the ‘Cats travel north to take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers at 8:00 p.m. EST on the Big Ten Plus. Only four days later, Kentucky will face arch-rival, No. 18 Louisville, inside Rupp Arena. This week will not only be a pivotal period for Walker, but for the team as a whole.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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  • The Wildcats' leading scorer this season has been sophomore Jada Walker, who averages 14.9 ppg and 3.9 assists per game. She was an All-SEC Freshman Team selection by the league's coaches last season.
  • Robyn Benton, a third-year Wildcat who was at Auburn prior to Kentucky, is the team's other leading scorer at 14.3. She was an All-SEC Freshman Team selection while at Auburn and has averaged just over eight points per game in her career in 110 career games played.
  • Kentucky brought in 10 newcomers (six freshmen, four transfers) for the 2022-23 season. Kentucky added four prominent transfers in Adebola Adeyeye (Buffalo), Ajae Petty (LSU), Maddie Scherr (Oregon) and Eniya Russell (South Carolina). Those four average 25.1 points per game this season.
 



walleye

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according to the game notes.. tomorrow is a Maroon OUT... fans are encouraged to wear MAROON
Actually, I would rather see a Gold Out. The quality of Big+ will mean that it will look like a brown out or a black out. It won't look Maroon unless there are close ups.
 

Ragnor

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Actually, I would rather see a Gold Out. The quality of Big+ will mean that it will look like a brown out or a black out. It won't look Maroon unless there are close ups.
I agree that gold is more visually impressive but I understand why they do maroon instead. I have found many people don't own gold gopher stuff they like maroon better for one reason or another. My only problem with gold is I am constantly spilling something on it and staining it:sneaky:.
 

Gopher68

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I agree that gold is more visually impressive but I understand why they do maroon instead. I have found many people don't own gold gopher stuff they like maroon better for one reason or another. My only problem with gold is I am constantly spilling something on it and staining it:sneaky:.
Gold is not my wife's color. Until she mentioned it, I did not realize attending Gopher event was a fashion statement.:)
 



Lynx

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My +1 is unable to attend. If anyone wants an extra ticket tonight I’m happy to transfer it to them through the Gophers app.
 

adamj95

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Got to keep the turnovers under control to win this game. Let's go Gophers!
 

Chico Gopher

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Earlier this year, I saw a Lindsey Whalen highlight film of nothing but amazing twisting lay-ups through traffic that looked like they had no business going through the net, yet they did. Her teammates mentioned that they had no idea how she made some of those shots. At the end of the first quarter, the final Gopher basket made me think of that video.
 

adamj95

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13 turnovers and down just 2 points at the half. They need to keep it under 20 if they want to win.
 




Belzx009

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Rose needs to expect the ball!!! She is wide open! She should be stepping to the ball. She wouldn’t need post moves if she expected the ball. The guards are doing the work for her!!!!!!!!
Ok rant over.
 





Outsider

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Too many turnovers and too many easy missed layups. Missing FTs is bad enough but if I have to hear they miss a shot from the block or a layup again, needs work!
 


walleye

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It was a doable game for the Gophers. I hope they learned something from it. It was a high energy game and the effort was excellent. If they shot free throws well (only 55%), they would have won. Some of the other players need to help Rose out in the paint on rebounding and defense. We have front court players tall enough to get more rebounds--it is not all about height. They are an interesting bunch to watch and have a lot of potential.
 

Gophers112233

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Katie played well but some of her choice making in the 4th was not great.. and imho playing through Rose and Katie in the 4th wasn't the greatest choice..

Mara HAD zero SHOTS in the 4th until that final 21 seconds..

going to rose when she is struggling to make layups and free throws late in games and you go to her back to back in those spots..
 


Ignatius L Hoops

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Kentucky threw some bodies, some speed, some muscle and even some three point shooting when the Gophers went zone. In the end it was the muscle that worked. Rose put in a long, hard days work; but she got little relief. Now she needs a truckful of ice to get ready to be bounced around in Iowa City.

There were several fun things about the game; I put Heyer nailing threes right up there.
 

Gophers112233

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Kentucky threw some bodies, some speed, some muscle and even some three point shooting when the Gophers went zone. In the end it was the muscle that worked. Rose put in a long, hard days work; but she got little relief. Now she needs a truckful of ice to get ready to be bounced around in Iowa City.

There were several fun things about the game; I put Heyer nailing threes right up there.
we need to run more stuff for Heyer imho! wish we WOULD look up too when she's bustin her butt down the court and has her player beat but nobody looks up quick enough.. Battle did a few times.
 

ecoperson

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This team has the potential to be very good. It is going to be up and down as the young players mature. It might not be this month. It might not be this year. But I believe that they have a chance to do some things.

I think that there are some transfers who might see this potential and want to be a part of this. Some transfers will not come as they may not think that they can steal minutes from the core. Those transfers who are willing to bet on themselves can come in and push the youngsters.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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Minutes played (noting the obvious)

37 Heyer
36 Braun
34 Battle
31 Borowicz
30 Micheaux

15 Gradwell
10 Czinano
5 Cayton
4 Oberg
 






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