LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky coach Matt Mitchell believes that if his sixth-ranked Wildcats want to be the best team they have to play the best.
Right now that is No. 1 Baylor and senior Brittney Griner.
The Wildcats will get their shot against the Bears on Tuesday on the defending national champions' home court in Waco, Texas.
It is the first meeting between the schools and presents the biggest challenge yet for Kentucky since the Wildcats upset No. 1 Tennessee 66-63 in 2006. The Bears (1-0) are coming off a 40-0 season and return their entire starting lineup, including the 6-foot-8 Griner, the national player of the year.
The Wildcats are preseason favorites to win the Southeastern Conference but will find out quickly where they stand nationally; Baylor is considered a favorite to repeat as national champions.
Kentucky (1-0) tuned up for the showdown with a 90-50 rout of Delaware State on Saturday.
"Being able to go on the road and play Baylor, which is such a great team, is something that will do nothing but help us," Mitchell said Monday.
"We want to be the best women's basketball team in the country and I think you have to play in games like this to get there. It's very important to have a challenging schedule to test yourself and challenge yourself and to have the courage to go out and play really great teams, so that's an important part of the process of us growing as a program."
The Wildcats forced 32 turnovers resulting in 43 points in their opener. Mitchell said they will need to turn up that pressure on all the Bears and not just Griner, who has career averages of 21.6 points and 8.6 rebounds a game.
With a Big 12-record 599 blocked shots, Griner needs 64 to break the NCAA mark. She also has seven dunks, which means everybody has to contribute on both ends for Kentucky.
"It's not so much the person guarding Griner, it's more of the other people who you are trying to pressure and take away opportunities to have her get the ball," Mitchell said. "It's real difficult to stop her once she gets the ball inside, and then you just need to get it out as quick as you can and get it back up the floor."
Wildcats senior guard A'dia Mathies scored 16 points against Delaware State to move to 11th on Kentucky's all-time list with 1,451.