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No. 3 seed Kentucky faces 14th-seeded UNC Asheville Saturday at 4 p.m.

Vicky Graff Photo

Vicky Graff Photo

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 12 University of Kentucky women’s basketball team will begin its run in the 2016 NCAA Tournament on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET inside Memorial Coliseum when it faces 14th-seeded UNC Asheville. The game will air live on ESPN2.

For the third time in program history and third year in a row, Kentucky has been selected to host the first and second rounds of the tournament inside historic Memorial Coliseum. The first round will be held Saturday and the second round Monday. The other first-round matchup Saturday features sixth-seeded Oklahoma against 11th-seeded Purdue at 1:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

The No. 3 seed for Kentucky is its third in program history and marks the fifth straight season that the Wildcats have been a top-three seed in the event. The Wildcats were last a No. 3 seed in 2014 when they defeated Wright State and Syracuse in the first two rounds before falling to second-seeded Baylor in the regional semifinals.

Kentucky is 17-12 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, including a 13-6 record under Mitchell. The best finishes for UK came in the 2013, 2012, 2010 and 1982 when the Wildcats fell one win shy of the Final Four. Last season, UK fell in the second round. Over the last seven seasons, Kentucky has advanced to three Elite Eights and four Sweet 16s.

The Wildcats enter the event with a 23-7 record and ranked No. 12 in the latest Associated Press Top 25. UK has won eight of its last nine games, including six straight double-digit wins over conference foes for the first time in program history. Kentucky is 7-3 against ranked opponents this season for its best winning percentage against ranked foes in program history. Junior guard Makayla Epps leads the team in scoring averaging 16.5 points per game with 4.8 rebounds per game. Senior guard Janee Thompson is averaging 12.6 points per game, while junior forward Evelyn Akhator is averaging 11.6 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.

UNC Asheville (26-6) enters the event after winning the Big South Tournament championship. The Bulldogs are averaging 69.4 points per game this season, allowing opponents to score 57.7 points per game. Chatori Major leads the team with 13.9 points per game, adding 44 assists and 36 steals.

Kentucky and UNC Asheville have met twice in program history with the Wildcats holding a 2-0 record in the series. Both meetings came in 1995, with UK winning 98-76 at home before a 70-55 win on the road.

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