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Kentucky Women Crush Ole Miss

Kentucky Women Crush Ole Miss

The UK Women’s Basketball team destroyed Ole Miss (13-8) tonight, rolling over the Rebels 89-57.

With tonight’s win, the Cats extend their SEC win streak to five games, including three road games, and improve their season record to 15-6.

Once again, the team’s driving force was senior Evelyn Akhator. Over the past five games, she’s averaging over 20 points and 12 rebounds per game. Tonight was no different, as the 6-foot-3 forward ended her night with 28 points and 13 rebounds. The performance secured her 12th double-double of the season and 25th of her career.

Another player with yet another impressive stat line? Maci Morris. The sophomore guard had another career night, going 5-9 from behind the arc while scoring 17 total points. Makayla Epps also stood out, adding 20 points, six assists and four rebounds in the victory.

“Makayla Epps is a special player,” Ole Miss head coach Matt Insell said. “I have so much respect for that kid. I think she’s the best in the league.”

Though the final score may not show it, Kentucky was without three guards tonight: Makenzie Cann, Jessica Hardin and Rachel Potter. Cann was out due to an illness, which Matthew Mitchell later clarified to be the flu, while Hardin and Potter are both still undergoing concussion protocol. On Mitchell’s radio show on Wednesday, he said he is hoping Hardin will be able to return Monday after going through some non-contact practices.

The lack of a bench has been a problem for Kentucky all season, and the loss of Cann and Hardin only made it more clear. In terms of points off the bench, the Rebels scored 32, while the Cats scored just nine.

“We’ve said for a long time that we’re not large numbers, but this is a high character, quality group of women that subscribe to honesty, hard work and discipline,” Mitchell said. “I love this team.”


The Cats will play Missouri on the road this Monday at 7. Action returns to Memorial Coliseum on Thursday, Feb. 2 at 7 against South Carolina.

@MaggieDavisKSR


UK Athletics

The Women’s NCAA Selection Committee is Already Working, and they Like Kentucky

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

Women’s college basketball is always two steps ahead of the men’s game.

The shot-clock was 30-seconds long well before it was institute in the men’s game.  The best women’s teams consistently scheduled each other before the Champions Classic, the CBS Classic and every other “Classic” became a men’s ritual.  They’ve already made the switch to quarters instead of halves, and the men should do the same soon.  This year’s addition might be their best idea yet.

Instead of waiting to reveal all the seeds for the NCAA Tournament on Selection Monday, the NCAA is revealing the Top 16 seeds of the bracket four times during the regular season.  They will be released every two weeks leading into postseason play.  The NCAA says the seeds will have no bearing on the final bracket.

It’s like the College Football Playoff weekly show, except better.  There are more teams and the seeds aren’t revealed every week.  The weekly rankings only make people angry.  These seeds give teams a feel for where they are in the eyes of the selection committee, compared to what they see in the polls from the “experts.”

Matthew Mitchell’s team isn’t ranked in the AP Poll, second in the “others receiving votes” category, but the selection committee thinks they are currently a four-seed at No. 15.

1. UConn
2. Baylor
3. South Carolina
4. Mississippi State
5. Florida State
6. Washington
7. Notre Dame
8. Oregon State
9. Maryland
10. Texas
11. Duke
12. Stanford
13. Louisville
14. UCLA
15. Kentucky
16. Arizona State

I’m a big fan of all the changes in the women’s game over the last few years.  Quarters add more buzzer-beating drama, eliminating the double-bonus adds more drama by putting more pressure to make the one-and-one, and their last-minute timeouts take them to mid-court, just like the NBA.  As much as I love the drama of Selection Sunday, I’d be happy to see the addition of this to the men’s game for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to:

1.  Kentucky would get primetime ESPN coverage on a bi-weekly basis right when the national audience quits paying attention to football.

2.  Even though they aren’t supposed to have any bearing on the final rankings, it adds more transparency to the opaque process.

3.  I’m tired of hearing Cal gripe about the committee every year.  More transparency usually means more accountability.  Cal will either be happy when it’s all said and done, or get his griping in on SportsCenter following each bi-weekly broadcast.

4. If they still found a way to insert Duke in the Top 16 at this point in the season, we would have empirical proof the selection committee is unconditionally in love with the Dookies.

5.  The UK women’s team isn’t ranked by the AP but in the Top 15 according to the NCAA.  If the four previous points didn’t appease you, UK’s example should say enough.

It will take some time for the change to make it into the men’s game.  Until then, I hope we continue to see Matthew Mitchell’s team in the Top 16 until March 13.


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