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Kentucky Women win back-and-forth road game

Kentucky Women win back-and-forth road game

Screen Shot 2017-01-22 at 5.52.08 PMIn an exciting matchup, UK Hoops defeated Auburn 64-60 on the road, therefore extending their winning streak to four straight SEC games.

After a tip-off delay due to a tornado warning in the Auburn area, the Cats responded to the Tigers’ quick four points with a 7-0 run. Turnovers were an issue for Kentucky early, giving up six in the first quarter alone. Maci Morris and Taylor Murray were both on the mark from the beginning, scoring six points each in the first ten minutes of action. The Cats led 19-14 at the end of the first.

At the start of the game, Kentucky’s offensive skills gave them the lead, as they went 8-13 from the field in the first quarter. By the end of the half, however, Auburn’s defense improved, forcing the Cats’ field goal percentage to drop from 61.5 percent in the first quarter to 28.9 percent in the second. Still, Kentucky went into the locker room leading 29-26.

After halftime, UK seemed lost, allowing a 10-0 Auburn run while giving up five quick turnovers and shooting just 1-4 from the field. Coach Matthew Mitchell received a technical foul. Finally, Makayla Epps hit a three to give the Cats some much-needed momentum.

The rest of the quarter was a battle. At one point, the Cats trailed by seven. By the end of the quarter, however, they were within one point (44-45).

“Our word today is poise,” Epps said after the game. “Coach just kept telling us to keep our poise. I told everyone to stay positive and keep going, and we did.”

The team clearly kept this in mind during the hard-fought fourth quarter. Morris led the team, as she ended her night with 18 points and a career-high nine rebounds. She hit four baskets behind the arc and added one block and one steal. Epps was right behind her with 17 points, while Murray added 14 and Evelyn Akhator scored seven.

“I’m so proud of our team,” Mitchell said. “I’m as proud of this win as I am any win we’ve had in a long, long time.”


UK Hoops will return to action in Lexington on Thursday, Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. to take on Ole Miss.

Twitter: @MaggieDavisKSR


Tweets from UK Baseball & Softball Fan Day

@UKSoftball


Photo by UK Athletics

UK Hoops Beats LSU on the Road

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

UK Hoops kicked off their two-game SEC road game weekend with an impressive 55-42 win over LSU.

The Cats started off strong going on a 12-0 run in the first quarter, LSU seemed baffled by the Cats man-to-man defense style – the Tigers didn’t score their first points until 12 minutes into the game. At halftime, UK Hoops only lead by 7 points but, they came out ready to play in the second half and broke down LSU’s defense, especially Senior Evelyn Akhator. Akhator lead the Cats to victory with 20 points and 11 rebounds – yes, ANOTHER double-double for Akhator.

But, the real story of tonight is Sophomore point guard Taylor Murray. Murray earned a double-double tonight with 11 points and 13 rebounds (she also had five assists – so yeah, she’s impressive). This is a HUGE road win for the Cats. Not only is this their first win at LSU in seven years but,, it also gives the Cats momentum looking ahead to Auburn on Sunday afternoon.

Matthew Mitchell and your girls return to Memorial next Thursday night at 7 to take on Ole Miss.


EJ Floreal has surgery to repair torn Achilles

floreal

Take a moment this afternoon and send some get well wishes to former UK Basketball walk-on EJ Floreal, who underwent surgery to repair a torn Achilles today. In August, the senior gave up basketball to focus on his track and field career under his father, Coach Edrick Floreal, and despite the injury, he plans to redshirt and run next year.

As Floreal’s shown us time and time again, he’s an incredible athlete, and I have no doubt he’ll make a full recovery. Minor setback for a major comeback, right? When you get a chance, send EJ some love @Lil_Flo_24.


Evelyn Akhator Named SEC Player of the Week

Photo by UK Athletics

UK Athletics

After an impressive week in SEC play, Evelyn Akhator earned her third SEC Player of the Week honor of the 2016-17 season.

Against Alabama, Akhator posted a career-high 29 points and 15 rebounds.  She followed that performance with 24 points and a season-high 16 rebounds against Georgia to lead Kentucky to their second consecutive victory.  She shot a staggering 75.8 percent from the field in the two games.

In the history of the Kentucky women’s basketball program, only one other player has recorded back-to-back games with 24+ points and 15+ rebounds: the school’s all-time leading scorer, Valerie Still.

Akhator wasn’t the only woman in the UK athletic department to receive SEC weekly honors. Gymnast Mollie Korth was named SEC Freshman of the Week following an all-around victory.


Photo: UK Athletics

Kentucky Cheerleading wins 22nd National Championship

 

Photo: UK Athletics

Photo: UK Athletics

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but your University of Kentucky Cheerleading squad just took home yet another National Championship. That’s 22 total national championships for the Cats, the most of any school in the country. An unprecedented winning culture in Lexington for these cheerleaders.

Here’s a small look at their routine from earlier tonight.

The crowd knew they were witnessing the best squad in the country and the Cats had the venue rocking.

It really doesn’t get better than this. Go Cats!!!

And also a special shoutout to the UK Dance Team that took home 2nd place overall in the Hip Hop competition and 4th place overall in the Pom competition. All Cats Everything!

Way to go UKDT!!!! 2nd in Hip Hop and 4th in Pom!! #ukdt #udanationals #decidetorise

A photo posted by UK Dance Team (@ukdanceteam) on

@BrettBibbinsKSR


@KentuckyWBB

Five Takeaways from today’s Hoops victory

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

The Lady Wildcats capped off a successful weekend for Kentucky athletics with an easy 82-61 victory over the Georgia Bulldogs. UK Hoops moves to 12-6 on the season and 3-2 in the SEC. You can read Haley’s game recap here. The game was broadcast on the SEC network, but if you missed it, here are five leftovers.

1. Evelyn Akhator had a game

Akhator paced the Wildcats for much of the game, and finished the night with another double-double. Her 24 points and 16 rebounds earned the senior her 10th double-double of the season and her 23rd at UK. Even more impressive, she secured the double-double with over a minute left in the first half.

Today’s game rivaled Akhator’s performance against Alabama last week, where she scored a career-high 29 points and grabbed 15 rebounds.

“She put on a real display of skill,” Matthew Mitchell said after the game. “She had some good reads, good shots and good plays. Her teammates really worked to get her the ball.”

2. The first half was arguably the best of the season

Kentucky came out ready to play, starting the game with six quick points for Akhator and a three-pointer by Makayla Epps to put the Wildcats ahead 9-0. The Cats ended the first quarter on a 10-0 run, and Kentucky led 23-4 at the break. The rest of the first half was more of the same: UK went into the locker room shooting 58.6 percent of their field goals and 44.4 percent of their three-pointers, while holding the Bulldogs to 21.4 percent from the floor and no shots from behind the arc.

3. UK capitalized off Georgia mistakes

The Cats showed aggression today, forcing 12 Bulldog turnovers and converting those mistakes into 24 points. Additionally, Kentucky out-rebounded Georgia on both ends of the court: UK had a 26-19 defensive rebound advantage and a 12-9 offensive rebound advantage. On the season, the Bulldogs have been limiting opponents to 59.2 points per game – Kentucky’s 82 points obviously obliterated that.

4. Jessica Hardin is still unavailable

After a concussion in the Duke game, Jessica Hardin is still not back on the court for the Wildcats. Today’s game marked the fifth game played without the senior guard. Makayla Epps took a knee to the head during the fourth quarter, and she did not speak at the post-game press conference as she was being examined by the doctor. Still, the senior ended the night with 13 points and six assists.

5. The Alumni Game was a success 

Any win is a great win, but it’s even sweeter when so many former players are in the house. For today’s game, over 30 Cats were in Memorial to cheer on the Wildcats, with members ranging from the 1973 team all the way up to crowd-favorite Victoria Dunlap from the class of 2011.

@KentuckyWBB

@KentuckyWBB

“We had a great crowd today, [and] I was so excited we played well on Alumni day,” Mitchell said. “This city has been so supportive, all of Big Blue Nation has been so supportive.”


While Kentucky’s next two games are away, the BBN can continue this support here in Lexington next week, when the Wildcats take on Ole Miss at home on Jan. 26 at 7 p.m.

Twitter: @MaggieDavisKSR


Photo by UK Athletics

Women show no mercy to Bulldogs, win 82-61

 

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

In a battle of Cats vs. Dogs, Kentucky came out victorious over Georgia 82-61 led by senior center Evelyn Akhator yet again.

After a career night with 29 points and 15 rebounds on Thursday at Auburn, Akhator came back just as a strong getting her 23rd career double-double with 24 points and 16 rebounds.

The senior came to fight scoring six of Kentucky’s first points in a 9-0 run that opened up the game. From there, Akhator continued to ball, getting her double-double with about four minutes left in the game. While her numbers were high, she was also incredibly efficient making 10 of 15 field goals.

Akhator wasn’t the only Cats to put up some numbers, senior Makayla Epps had a quiet 13 points and six assists. Sophomore Taylor Murray on the other hand had 14 points and three assists.

For the fifth game in a row, Jessica Hardin did not dress as she is following concussion protocol after a nasty hit against Duke on Dec. 29.

Epps also received a hit in the head today with just over four minutes remaining in the game. The senior did not return to the game.

Kentucky won the battle in the paint out rebounding the Bulldogs 38-28, outscoring them in the paint 36-26 and only allowing four second chance points compared to the Cats 16 . The Cats shot a solid 52 percent from the field and 44 percent from behind the arch.

Now at 12-6 on the season, Kentucky moves to 3-2 in conference play and will likely move up to seventh in the SEC.

The Cats will be back in action on Thursday Jan. 19 at LSU which will tip off at 8 p.m. on SEC Network +.


Photo by UK Athletics

Career night for Akhator leads to Hoops first road win

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

Recently knocked out of the AP Top 25, the Lady Cats routed Alabama on their court tonight 71-54 for their first road win of the season.

Kentucky led wire to wire, but Alabama would not go away. The Tide was able to cut the lead several times and the Cats went into halftime only leading by 3 with a score of 27-24. This is partly due to early foul trouble for Kentucky with Maci Morris, Taylor Murray, Alyssa Rice and Jadia Roper all earning two fouls before the half.

The Cats did break off down the stretch thanks to a 6-0 run completely by Evelyn Akhator to give them some breathing room right before the end of the third quarter.

Akhator lead the Cats tonight with a career night of 29 points and 15 rebounds for her 22nd double-double in two years at Kentucky, tied for fourth overall in school history.

Kentucky has struggled to get in the groove of things the last couple weeks, losing two of their last three games. Standing in eighth place in the SEC, the Cats are now 11-6 on the season and 2-2 in conference play.

The Cats will be back in action on Sunday against Georgia at 3 p.m. inside Memorial Coliseum and will be broadcast on the SEC Network.


Photo by UK Athletics

UK Hoops loses to Texas A&M in exciting back and forth game.

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

No. 24 Kentucky lost to unranked Texas A&M 77-68 this afternoon. It was an exciting back and forth game with 13 lead changes and eight ties. It’s no surprise that A&M won, for the past five years in the UK – A&M series the visiting team always wins.

The Cats really struggled with rebounding and foul trouble. The Aggies out-rebounded the Cats 38-26 and scored 22 second chance points whereas Kentucky only scored eight. Murray got into foul trouble early with 4 fouls and Rice ended up fouling out. Despite getting out-rebounded, Coach Mitchell doesn’t think fatigue contributed to the loss.

“I don’t know how fatigue could’ve been an issue because we  subbed liberally today with no player over 36 minutes,” said Mitchell.

Seniors Makayla Epps and Evelyn Akhator both had impressive games, scoring 20 points each. But, their offense wasn’t enough. It was all tied up at 62 with five minutes left, then A&M went on a 4-0 run and Kentucky lost it’s cool. A&M started hitting big shots and ended up scoring 16 points within the last four minutes.

“One of the things we’re working on is keeping our head up and our composure, but it’s hard when they hit big shots like that at the end,” said Epps.

This was the Cats’ first loss in Memorial this season. Epps said she’s ready to get back to work with her “nose to the ground” and prepare for Alabama this coming Thursday.

UK Hoops will be back in Memorial on Sunday the 15 to take on UGA – a game I personally cannot wait for because I have a deep hatred for UGA (I know I’m supposed to be an unbiased media member but it’s hard sometimes).

@savannahpattKSR


Photo by UK Athletics

Cats hang on, defeat Missouri 64-62 in SEC home opener

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

Dwindling Kentucky’s 13 point lead in the fourth quarter, Missouri stretched the Cats SEC home opener to the last minute.

In the final 33 seconds of Thursday’s game, the Tigers rattled off six points to keep the Cats on their toes. Capitalizing off a turnover from Maci Morris, Missouri hit a layup with 25 seconds left to cut Kentucky’s lead to 63-58. On the Cats next trip down the court Taylor Murray committed the Cats ninth turnover of the night, leading to another Missouri layup to bring the game within three at 63-60.

With seven-seconds left to play, Missouri sent Morris to the line for two. Missing the first, the sophomore knocked down the second to stretch the Cats lead to 64-60, making it a two-possession game. Beating out the clock, Missouri would knock down a layup with one-second left on the clock to end the game at 64-62, Kentucky bringing home their first SEC victory of the season.

The first and fourth quarters were definitely not the Cats best quarters of the season. Kentucky only scored eight points in the first to trail the Tigers 15-8 to end the period. In the fourth quarter, the Cats lost a 13 point lead and were three of 12 from the field, seven of their points coming from free throws.

Rallying in the second quarter, Kentucky held the Tigers to just six points, while they took the lead at 34-21. Continuing to pour it on in the third, Kentucky allowed Missouri to get some shots up but still retained their lead at 51-40 to enter the last quarter of play.

Overall, the Cats were 39% from the field, going 22 of 56, and 47% from behind the line, making nine of 19 attempted three-pointers. Missouri did managed to win the battle of the boards, out rebounding Kentucky 37 to 30.

Makayla Epps bounced back from several rough games for 17 points, five rebounds and five assists.

“I felt like I struggled against Duke and Tennessee and I wanted to come out here and have some fun again,” Epps said after the game.

Evelyn Akhator made some solid contributions tonight, raking in 14 points and eight rebounds. Morris also went 2-3 from three-point land to help out her 11 points. However, Murray, who has been a star over the last several weeks only brought in seven points of her own with three rebounds and two assists.

Kentucky will be back in action on Sunday against Texas A&M in Memorial Coliseum at 2 p.m.


Photo by UK Athletics

UK Women’s Basketball Falls to Duke

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

In a much-anticipated game between No. 17 Kentucky and No. 15 Duke, the Blue Devils came out victorious with a final score of 69-54.

Taylor Murray made her return after missing the past two games due to a hand injury. Tonight, however, her hand was far from problematic. The sophomore point guard ended the night with 18 points, going 6-15 from the field, hitting 2-2 from behind the arc and 4-4 from the free throw line. Senior Makayla Epps also provided the Cats with a solid contribution, scoring 12 points and grabbing three rebounds.

Evelyn Akhator had an off night, to say the least. The senior finished with just one point and three turnovers in 31 minutes of action after being named SEC Player of the Week just last week. This season, Akhator is averaging 14.3 points and 10.4 rebounds per game, and she has 20 career double-doubles at Kentucky. Tonight, however, Duke’s defense was too much for the 6-foot-3 forward, as she took just three shots in the paint.

Despite the final score, the game was competitive for the entirety of the first three quarters. At the end of the first, UK trailed by just two; at the end of the half, they trailed by just five. In the first twenty minutes of action, the Blue Devils had the advantage with 48.1 percent shooting from the floor, but the Wildcats were following closely behind, clocking in at 46.2 percent.

Then they went cold. Duke started the fourth quarter on a 10-0 run, and the Cats were never able to catch back up with them. Kentucky hit just 3-19 from the field during the entire quarter. Epps scored just two points during the final ten minutes, while Murray went scoreless.

Duke now leads the series 4-2, and a win in Durham continues to elude Matthew Mitchell’s Cats. Kentucky will be back on the road in the new year when they face-off against Tennessee on Jan. 1 in ­­­Knoxville. The Wildcats will be back in Memorial Coliseum on Jan. 5 at 7 p.m. against the Missouri Tigers.


Twitter: @MaggieDavisKSR


@KentuckyWBB

UK Hoops Preview: Kentucky vs. Duke tonight at 7:00

@KentuckyWBB

@KentuckyWBB

The No. 17 Wildcats (9-3) will face No. 15 Duke (11-1) tonight in Durham, North Carolina in UK’s first game since their exhilarating 69-67 victory victory over Washington State nine days ago. The game will also be Kentucky’s last non-conference game of the season. Yesterday, Coach Matthew Mitchell held a press conference to preview tonight’s tough match-up. Here are the three main takeaways.

1. Defense is key

All season, Mitchell has stressed the importance of improving this team’s defense. Tonight will be a huge test for the Cats, as Duke’s offense is incredibly explosive. So far this season, the Blue Devils are averaging 82.2 points per game, while shooting 50 percent from the field and 40.1 percent from behind the three-point line. Their leading scorer, redshirt junior Rebecca Greenwell, is averaging 20.5 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, while UK’s leading lady, Makayla Epps, is averaging 17.9 points per game.

“They can beat you from the perimeter and can beat you inside. They are really powerful and athletic and big and can rebound,” Mitchell said. “It is going to be a really big test for our defense.”

2. Taylor Murray is still touch-and-go.

The sophomore guard has already missed the last two games due to an injury, and it looks as though she may be sitting this one out as well. The Wildcats will certainly miss Murray, who is averaging 12.7 points and 5.1 rebounds per game, against an efficient Duke team, but Mitchell doesn’t want to rush her return.

“It’s a lot harder to win a game without her than it is to win with her, so we certainly hope we can have her available tomorrow night, but we just won’t know until game time” Mitchell said. “We’re not going to do anything that hampers her ability long term.”

3. Yes, UK vs. Duke is a rivalry for the women, too

Although there’s far less hate compared to the men’s teams, the two programs are still very competitive. Tonight’s game marks the sixth straight season for this match-up, with the Blue Devils holding a 3-2 advantage. Last season, Kentucky defeated Duke 71-61 in Rupp Arena. However, the Cats have never won in Durham.

“When we were in the early stages of trying to develop our program, we felt like playing some of the top schools that our men’s team has had great rivalries with could be valuable, and it so happens that Duke has developed a great women’s basketball program as well,” Mitchell said. “The one thing missing in the series so far is us winning at Duke… so we would love to get a win over there.”

Watch out for any intentional tripping… just saying.


The game will be shown live on ACC Network Extra through WatchESPN, and the call will be available on Fox Sports 1580AM and ukathletics.com. Be sure to tune in tonight at 7 p.m. – it’s sure to be an exciting game.


Photo by UK Athletics

UK Hoops Fights for Win over Washington State

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

After a touch-and-go second half, the No. 18 Lady Cats were able to hang on against the Washington State Cougars 69-67. Sophomore point guard Taylor Murray, who did not play in Sunday’s game against Radford, was once again on the bench due to a broken pinky finger. Freshman Jaida Roper started in her place.

In the first quarter, it looked like the Cats would roll right over the Cougars. Kentucky held Washington State to 2-15 from the floor, while UK hit 10-14. The Cats grabbed 11 rebounds compared to the Cougars’ six, and Makenzie Cann was hot from the three-point line, going 3-3 for the quarter. At the end of the first, the Cats led 26-8.

But then something changed. After being up by 20 with 9:30 left in the second quarter, Washington State made their run. UK’s field goal percentage dropped from 71.4 percent in the first to 21.1 percent in the second. WSU’s, on the other hand, jumped from 13.3 percent to 68.8 percent. After an 11-0 run by the Cougars, Kentucky entered the locker room clinging to a two-point lead.

“We came out swinging, then the energy dropped, the effort dropped,” said Makayla Epps after the game. “It happens, we’re kids.”

The third quarter was slightly better for UK, shooting 37.5 percent from the floor and scoring 20 points to Washington’s 16. Still, the Cougars went on another run, this time 9-0, and took the lead for the first time with 3:15 left in the third. By the end of the quarter, however, a technical foul on the WSU bench and a Maci Morris three-pointer gave the Cats a 58-52 lead.

The last ten minutes of the game continued to be a nail-biter. UK consistently held the lead, but Washington State’s freshman guard Alexys Swedlund hit her sixth three-pointer of the day, tying the score 67-67 with 42.1 seconds left in the game.

Then came the free throws.

Evelyn Akhator was up first, going 2-2 from the line. With the Cats leading 69-67, Washington State’s Nike McClure was sent to the line and went 0-2. Maci Morris was next, also missing both shots. The Cougars had the last possession, but Swedlund fired up a long, contested three-pointer that was far from the mark. Kentucky held on.

“I was very concerned about handling the pressure, and sometimes we did and sometimes we didn’t,” Matthew Mitchell said after the game. “But in the end, we won by one more point than necessary.”

Another positive? After the game, Mitchell revealed the team’s first semester GPA: 3.517.

“That shows you they’re serious students,” Mitchell said. “They’re a great team to coach.”


UK Hoops’ next two match-ups come as road games against tough teams: No. 17 Duke on Dec. 29 and Tennessee on Jan. 1. The Cats will be back in Memorial Coliseum on Jan. 5 at 7:00 against the Missouri Tigers.