By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky got freshman guard Jaida Roper cleared to play Monday and is now hoping sophomore guard Taylor Murray will be cleared before the Cats play Belmont Friday in Lexington in the NCAA Tournament.
“She is progressing. We hope to get her back Wednesday or Thursday. I can’t guarantee that, but it looks like she is headed that direction,” coach Matthew Mitchell said about Murray. “It’s whiplash like getting in a car wreck. Can’t protect yourself if you don’t have good range of motion. That was quite a blow she took there. But she has looked a lot better over the last couple of days.”
Mitchell and his players were thrilled to open the tournament at Memorial Coliseum. If they can win two games, the regional will be the following week at Rupp Arena.
“We felt like our résumé was strong enough to get that done, so we weren’t completely surprised. We had a little bit of control of how we played and putting ourselves in that position. We have no control about what region we are going into. I think the kids are excited about the prospect of being in the Lexington Region,” Mitchell said.
“We just met after the bracket was announced and the only thing that really matters for us is Friday and that’s the way you’ve got to go into it and look at it. We’ve got to get prepared because if you don’t get it done Friday, you certainly won’t get it done in Rupp Arena. You’ve got to take care of Friday and that’s what we’re worried about right now.”
Mitchell said Monday night he did not know a lot about Belmont yet.
“If you’re regular season and tournament champions, you’re a good team. So, I don’t know a lot about them – I just know that if they’re tough and gritty, they’ll have winning on their minds,” Mitchell said. “So, we have to get winning on our minds to get prepared for them. We’ll go back to the office tonight and dig into it and see what Belmont is working with.”