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Leftovers from UK Hoops’ Win

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

The UK Women’s Basketball team defeated the Georgia Lady Bulldogs on the road 66-56 Thursday night. The Cats are now 17-8 on the season and 8-4 in the SEC, including four SEC road wins. First, you should check out Nick’s game recap, then catch up on the five takeaways from last night’s victory.

This matchup was very different from the matchup in Lexington

On Jan. 15, the Wildcats crushed the Bulldogs 82-61 in Memorial Coliseum. In the first meeting, Georgia ended the first quarter with just four points. On Thursday, the Bulldogs scored seven points in four minutes, and they ended the quarter trailing 8-11 to the Wildcats.

“Coach told us a lot that we were going to see a completely different Georgia team than we saw in Lexington,” said senior Makayla Epps after the game. “We are on their home court, and nobody wants to get beat like that on their home court.”

In Lexington, Kentucky forced 12 Bulldog turnovers and converted those mistakes into 24 points. In Athens, the Cats committed 12 turnovers of their own and scored 12 second-chance points, compared to Georgia’s 17 second-chance points.

“Last time we played them we were coming off the three-point loss to South Carolina,” Georgia Head Coach Joni Taylor said. “Because we played South Carolina so well, we thought we could just show up to the next game. I don’t think we were mentally locked in.”

Akhator recorded another double-double

This marks her 26th career double-double at Kentucky and her 13th of the season. She is now ranked second in terms of most double-doubles in a single season, behind legendary Wildcat Valerie Still.

In Thursday’s game, Akhator scored just 11 points, but grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds. And, according to Matthew Mitchell, these were no ordinary rebounds.

“Those 14 defensive rebounds that Evelyn got tonight were grown-up rebounds,” Mitchell said. “They were going at us tonight.”

Epps, Morris were also leading scorers

Makayla Epps ended the game with 7-14 shooting for 16 points and three assists. Maci Morris reached double-digit scoring for the fifth time in the past six games, finishing with 15 points.

…but don’t worry about Murray

Although Taylor Murray shot 3-12 from the floor and ended with nine points, four rebounds and two assists in a full 40 minutes, Mitchell says she contributed in other ways.

“Don’t worry about Taylor’s stat line tonight,” Mitchell said. “She ran the floor and had great poise. She even calmed me down in the third quarter.”

Poise was an important aspect of the victory, as the Cats had to continue to fight to maintain their lead. Most importantly, it helped Kentucky make 18-of-21 from the free-throw line for 85.7 percent, while the Bulldogs hit just 7-of-12 for 58.3 percent.

“There were some tough times tonight, but I thought the players did a great job of keeping their poise,” said Mitchell. “I thought our team communicated really well down the stretch, had great poise and did a great job.”

Congrats to Alyssa Rice

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

The junior center has just been named one of the five District II honorees to the 2017 College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-District Team.

On the season, Rice is averaging 21.6 minutes per game with 4.1 points and 4.4 rebounds.

Off the court, Rice continues to excel. Last semester, she earned a 3.94 GPA. Earlier in the season, she represented UK at the SEC Women’s Basketball Leadership Council and was voted on by her peers to serve as the vice chair of the council.


Twitter: @MaggieDavisKSR


UK Athletics

UK Women Win on the Road at Georgia, 66-56

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

The Kentucky women’s basketball team won their second straight SEC game behind a powerful performance from Evelyn Akhator.  The senior power forward had 11 points and 17 rebounds.  Mackenzie Cann contributed a career-high 8 boards to help the Cats outrebound the Bulldogs 40-35.

It was a slow starting game.  Despite not hitting a shot for a five-minute stretch in the first quarter, Kentucky maintained a three-point lead entering the second quarter.  It took some time, but they found eventually their shot.  The team finished the game shooting 40 percent from the field and 33 percent from three, yet they could never pull away from Georgia.  Clinging to a late seven-point lead, the Cats rebounded and hit their free throws (18-21) to prevent a comeback.

Makayla Epps led the team in scoring with 16 points and Maci Morris added 15.

Matthew Mitchell’s squad improved their record to 17-8, 8-4 in the SEC to share third place with Texas A&M.  They’ll return to the court a week from today in Fayetteville, Arkansas.


Hump Day Evening Notes for the UK Fans of the Day

Hump Day Evening Notes for the UK Fans of the Day

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—  Makayla Epps is a Finalist for TWO National POY Awards.  If you didn’t realize how good of a season Makayla Epps is having, this should be your wakeup call.  Epps is a finalist for the Naismith and Dawn Staley Player of the Year Awards.  She’s one of 30 finalists for the Naismith POY Award and one of 19 finalists for the Staley Award, given to the nation’s best guard.

Epps is averaging 17.2 points per game, she’s scored more than 20 points in her last four games and she recently moved into fifth-place on the UK scoring list with 1,620 career points.  Epps and the Kentucky women’s basketball team return to action tomorrow night in Athens, Georgia at 7:00 p.m.

— Monk and Fox are Wooden Award Finalists.  Kentucky is one of three schools with multiple players on the twenty-person list, joined by Kansas and North Carolina. Kentucky’s freshmen guards are two of the six freshmen on the late season list for the player of the year award.

—  “Forgive me Lord! I counted my chickens before they hatched!”  This announcer’s call at the end of regulation in a game between University of Montevallo (remember them?) and Young Harris College makes the call better than the buzzer beater.

Unfortunately, this announcer couldn’t get his chickens to bring home a win, falling in overtime to Montevallo 89-83.

—  No news on two new football coaches.  Now that the recruiting season has concluded, Mark Stoops is searching for replacements for D.J. Eliot and Jimmy Brumbaugh.  The deadline for the special teams position is today and the deadline for defensive line/outside linebackers assistant is Monday, February 13.  In no need to rush, I expect Stoops to announce both hires at the same time just before the start of spring practice.  If you know a guy, tell him to click here to apply for a coaching position.

—  Two Football Guys you need to Follow.  We’ve reach the six week stretch from National Signing Day to Spring Practice where absolutely nothing is happening in the world of Kentucky football, yet it’s arguably the most important time of the year.  The players are lifting and conditioning almost everyday, doing the hard work nobody sees.  However, you can see glimpses of it by following the strength coaches, Coach Ed (Corey Edmund, @UKCoachEd) and Mark Hill (@UKCoachHill).  Here’s a small sample:

@UKCoachEd

@UKCoachEd

These pictures become even more fun to follow when the players start chirping at one another on Twitter, like when the outside linebacker (Denzil Ware) passes the cornerback (Lonnie Johnson). This entire thread is worth a read.

— 31 Football Players on the Fall SEC Academic Honor Roll.  This list is reserved for those who play football, cross country, soccer and volleyball and examines their grades from the entire academic year.  Making honor roll is hard enough without having to play a sport.  They deserve all the credit they get, and then some more.

  • Drew Barker-Integrated Strategic Communication
  • C.J. Conrad-Communication
  • Greg Hart-Marketing
  • Nick Haynes-Business Management/Economics
  • Jacob Hyde-Social Work
  • Jojo Kemp-Community and Leadership Development
  • DeNiro Laster-Community and Leadership Development
  • Tate Leavitt-Community and Leadership Development
  • Courtney Love-Community and Leadership Development
  • Austin MacGinnis-Finance/Marketing
  • Naquez Pringle-Community and Leadership Development
  • Kynan Smith-Health Promotion
  • Ryan Timmons-Community and Leadership Development
  • Jon Toth-Mechanical Engineering
  • Charles Walker-Finance/Marketing

See the rest of the honorees after the jump.

(more…)


UK Softball coach Rachel Lawson perfectly describes the responsibility she feels towards her senior class

UK Softball coach Rachel Lawson perfectly describes the responsibility she feels towards her senior class

Screen Shot 2017-02-06 at 4.02.41 PM

Today was UK Baseball and Softball Media Day, and although I’m far from a UK Softball expert, this clip of head coach Rachel Lawson talking about senior Shannon Smith caught my attention. When asked why she prefers to say “retooling” her squad instead of “rebuilding,” Lawson got a little choked up while describing the responsibility she feels towards her senior class, specifically Smith.

“I don’t like to talk about replacing players. I like to talk about succeeding players – because the bottom line is this is Shannon Smith’s senior year. It’s important to me that Shannon Smith has a big senior year, so I have to make sure that I’m retooling every single time that I have a senior class. I have to make sure that I’m retooling.”

Lawson broke off to gather herself, when Smith piped up from the offstage, “It’s not even Senior Day yet,” drawing laughter and lightening the mood.

“I’m really not that soft, but gosh, I come off like it, geez,” Lawson laughed. “Everybody is important to me and everybody’s career is important to me. If you just try to figure out how to rebuild, all you’re doing is you’re saying all of the people on my team can’t get it done. Basically what I’m doing is admitting that I’ve wasted their last four years. And, I’m not going to do that. So, when I coach, I not only think about winning now, I think about winning in 10 days, I think about winning at the end of the season,  I think about how I’m going to win next year, and I’m thinking about how I’m going to be able to develop my current freshman class so that they can be standing in Oklahoma City. So all of those things are going on in my mind the entire time that I’m coaching – so it’s not a marketing tool at all, it’s how I like to do things.”

Perfectly said, and even more moving when you watch the clip below, courtesy of KSTV:


@KentuckyWBB

Four Leftovers from the UK Hoops Victory

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

After a rough night of men’s basketball, the UK Women’s team showed the BBN exactly what they needed to see: a victory. Kentucky defeated the Vanderbilt Commodores 71-63, improving their record to 16-8 and 7-4 in the SEC. It was close for most of the game, but in the end, the Cats pulled ahead and clinched the W. First, check out Haley’s game recap, then take a look at these four takeaways from today’s victory.

Cats controlled the paint

By the end of the first half, Kentucky was already asserting their dominance in the paint, outscoring the Commodores 26-6 with points in the paint. By the end of the game, that number had stretched to 42-22. Vandy’s two tallest players – senior Marqu’es Webb and freshman Kayla Overbeck, both 6-foot-1 – struggled to score over 6-foot-3 Evelyn Akhator, and the Commodores’ points in the paint struggled because of it.

Epps, Akhator and Murray thrived

On the season, these three women are leading the team in total points. Today was no exception. Makayla Epps ended the game with 23 points, eight rebounds and five assists; Evelyn Akhator had 20 points and eight rebounds; Taylor Murray finished with 18 points and seven assists.

With these numbers, Epps has earned her place in the top five all-time scorers in program history. Her 14 first half points placed her in fifth place with 1,611 total points. By the end of the game, she had added nine more, making her total 1,620 points. Leslie Nichols is fourth on the list with 1,797 points.

@KentuckyWBB

@KentuckyWBB

“She plays with emotion, and I love that. She’s got the edge you need to be successful,” said Vanderbilt head coach Stephanie White. “She’s special, and she kicked our rear ends.”

Limiting turnovers was key

When Kentucky stopped turning the ball over so much, they quickly took back the lead. In the first quarter alone, UK had six turnovers. At the end of the quarter, Kentucky led by just two. In the second quarter, however, the Wildcats committed zero turnovers, and entered the locker room leading by seven.

Vandy, on the other hand, struggled to hold onto the ball. They finished the game with a stunning 21 turnovers.

On the season, Kentucky is averaging just 12.4 turnovers per game, which puts them at the top of the SEC and No. 11 in the nation. Today, the Cats had just ten.

A third quarter run propelled the Cats ahead

The Cats were slowly building their lead against the Commodores during the second half, but a run late in the third quarter is what finally gave Kentucky a nice, nine-point cushion heading into the final ten minutes of action.

“That was a tremendous turning point in the game,” Matthew Mitchell said.

This cushion proved to be beneficial, as the Commodores hit consecutive three-point baskets to start the final quarter. Nationally, Vandy comes in third place for accuracy behind the arc, hitting 40.7 percent of their treys. Today, they went 8-24 for 33 percent. Kentucky hit just 2-14 for 14 percent.

UK Hoops will be back in action this Thursday at 7 p.m. to take on Georgia. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network.


Who does Matthew Mitchell have winning the Super Bowl?

“Today at noon was my Super Bowl,” Mitchell joked after the game. “I will be going for the Falcons. Jacob Tamme plays for the Falcons, so it’s an easy pick for me.”

Twitter: @MaggieDavisKSR


Photo by UK Athletics

Paint dominance leads Kentucky to victory over Vandy

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

After back-to-back losses this week to Missouri and South Carolina, Kentucky fought hard for their 71-63 win over Vanderbilt.

The Commodores currently sit at the bottom of the SEC but gave the Cats a run for their money today. Vanderbilt even led in the first period until Makayla Epps hit a three with less than a minute left to give Kentucky the lead at 18-16. The three was part of a 6-0 run to spark Kentucky’s offense and give them a boost that lasted the rest of the game.

The first period was a sloppy mess, both teams turning the ball over six times. However, Kentucky was able to get themselves under control and only allow four more the rest of the game for 10 total compared to the Commodores’ 21 total.

The game was won in the paint, where the Cats completely dominated. Kentucky outscored Vanderbilt 42-22 in the paint, but the Commodores won the rebounding matchup 41-29.

Kentucky was led by Epps, whose 14 first half points put her at No. 5 on Kentucky women’s basketball all time scoring list for 1,611 points. Overall, the senior scored 23 and grabbed eight rebounds. Evelyn Akhator led the charge in the paint with 20 points and eight rebounds after an off night against South Carolina on Thursday.

 

The Cats will be back in action on Thursday at Georgia with tip-off at 7 p.m.


Photo By UK Athletics

UK Hoops Falls to Fourth Ranked South Carolina

Photo By UK Athletics

Photo By UK Athletics

It was a tough Thursday night in Memorial for UK Hoops. Not much to say here except, that the Cats fell to No. 4 South Carolina 75-63. This game could have and should have been a blowout – and it was throughout the first half. But, UK Hoops got some momentum in the second half.

“The third quarter is usually our downfall so I was proud of how the team came out fighting,” said Maci Morris.

South Carolina dominated Kentucky in every part of the game. The Cats were out rebounded 40-29, South Carolina had 34 points in the paint compared to Kentucky’s 20. But, this is the most surprising state – the Gamecocks shot 50% from the field while the Cats only shot 34%.

“If you’re not making some shots it can snowball pretty quickly,” said Matthew Mitchell.

Senior Evelyn Akhator, who is notorious for her double-doubles this season, only had seven points and seven rebounds in her 34 minutes of playing time. Maci Morris fouled out with 14 points and one rebound and Mackenzie Cann only had six points. Epps was Kentucky’s saving grace, with 23 points and nine rebounds but, it wasn’t enough to beat South Carolina’s height and power.

With the South Carolina loss, No. 25 UK Hoops moves to 15-8 overall and 6-4 in the conference. UK Hoops takes on Vanderbilt next this Sunday at noon in Memorial.

 

 

 


Tuesday’s Top 10: A New Commit, More Checkerboard & Musburger’s Farewell

Tuesday’s Top 10: A New Commit, More Checkerboard & Musburger’s Farewell

(Clockwise from L) @CoachMHouse, J.J. Grazia via the Macon Telegraph, @UKSportsNetwork, AA-F commits via @JEdwar247.

(Clockwise from L) @CoachMHouse, J.J. Frazier via the Macon Telegraph, @UKSportsNetwork, AA-F commits via @JEdwar247.

Normally this part of the Top 10 is reserved for a cheesy dedication and a poorly executed segue.  Ain’t nobody got time for that today.  With faxes rolling into the Joe Craft Football Training Facility in less than 23 hours and a 9:00 p.m. tip-off with Georgia at Rupp Arena, there’s no time to waste (seriously, so much is happening I wrote this entire thing and forgot to mention Stoops promoted Matt House to defensive coordinator).  Here’s what’s up:

1. Stoops Adds 24th Commit

Mark Stoops got an “under the radar” steal with just two days left in the recruiting period.  Lakeland, Fl. defensive end Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald committed to Kentucky following a weekend of official visits.  After visiting UK on Saturday, he was in Gainesville on Sunday.  Still, the 6’7″ 250-pounder chose the Cats over the Gators.

Abadi-Fitzgerald is a name that entered our radar about a week ago.  Considered a project, he’s only played one season of football.  If he works out like some of Mark Stoops’ other “projects” who committed late — Josh Allen, Chris Westry, Naquez Pringle — Abadi-Fitzgerald could become the steal of the class.

There’s only 23 hours until the faxes can become official, but Stoops could add one, maybe two more to his best recruiting class yet.

2. Get Excited for NSD!

Just like Lane Kiffin, we can’t wait for it to get here.

On a serious note, we’re about to turn up the heat over the next 48 hours.  The only thing getting in between you and excellent Kentucky football recruiting coverage on KSR is tonight’s basketball game.  Throughout today you’ll receive film evaluations from Freddie, hear Kentucky’s primary recruiting pitch and much, much more.  Tomorrow morning the NSD LIVE Diary will keep you updated as the faxes are received until KSR airs LIVE from the ground floor, followed by quotes and analysis from coaches and players.

It’s going to be crazy, but we love every single second of it.

3. Bye-Bye Brent

Legendary play-by-play broadcaster Brent Musburger will call his final game tonight when Kentucky hosts Georgia.  Musburger’s called some fantastic games in baseball, NFL, college football and basketball, most notably the 1985 National Championship between Villanova and Georgetown at Rupp Arena, making tonight’s conclusion at Rupp quite appropriate.

Making the most of his final stop to Lexington, last night he joined Coach Cal and Tom Leach on the John Calipari Show.  Musburger shared stories from the ’85 game and some of the best memories he’s had in the booth.  If you missed it, you need to take 20 minutes to listen to the second half of the show here.  It was without a doubt the best call-in show of the year, maybe ever.

4. Cal was Quick in Yesterday’s Pregame Presser

Not a shy guy with a microphone in front of him, John Calipari didn’t have any extra time to waste at the podium yesterday.  He cut things a little short and players were not available for comment.  They’ve been busy since the Kansas loss.  He met with them individually to make sure they shared the same goals and expectations.

Cal also did things a little differently in the film room.  He showed the team film of all 17 turnovers.  Calipari can live with turnovers, as long as they’re aggressive turnovers.  The plays they made Saturday were not aggressive.

“Aggressive turnovers don’t lead to baskets down the other end,” Calipari said. “Were you just dribbling across and just lose it? What happened? Did he grab you? ‘No, it just kind of got away from me.’ Excuse me? That’s the casual. The look away pass to a win when you didn’t have to.”

5. Heavy Favorites vs. Georgia

Kentucky opened as daunting 16.5-point favorites over the Georgia Bulldogs, who are coming off a win vs. Texas on Saturday.  Led by power forward Yante Maten (19.7 points, 7.7 rpg) and J.J. Frazier (15.5 ppg), if the Cats can’t contain Mark Fox’s dynamic duo, it could be long, late night in the Bluegrass.

6. There’s a New Team Photo

After adding Hamidou Diallo, the team needed to update the official 2016-17 group picture.

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

7. New Baseball Uniforms are…

…covered in checkerboard.  For those who hate the pattern, brace yourselves for the jockey silks.  For those who love the checkerboard, prepare for a call to the post.

@UKBaseball

@UKBaseball

8. UK Hoops’ Win Streak Snapped

On the road in Columbia, Missouri, the Cats let a one-point halftime lead slip away, snapping a five-game win streak in a 73-67 loss to the Tigers.  Playing without a post for most of the second half due to foul trouble, the Cats got beat badly on the glass.  Trailing by 11 with five minutes to play, they made a valiant comeback that was cut short.  Read more here.

Kentucky returns to Memorial Coliseum Thursday at 7:00 to play No. 4 South Carolina.

9. Grayson Allen Tripped Somebody, Again

I guess he just can’t kick the habit.

10. Follow KSR on Instagram

Our newest creation is this fabulous conglomeration of photos from KSR photographer Dr. Michael Huang.  You’ll see everything “KSR,” featuring pictures from games, events and so much more.  Only the biggest UK fans make the feed, that’s why Katie George was one of the first to be featured.  Katie will deny it to the death, but deep down she bleeds blue.

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Follow KSR on Instagram and listen to Kentucky Sports Radio, starting in one hour.


Photo by UK Athletics

Women can’t hold on, fall to Mizzou 73-67

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

Breaking their five game win streak, Women’s Hoops were unable to pull out a win on the road at Mizzou despite holding a 31-30 lead at halftime.

While UK held the lead at the ends of both the first and second quarters, it wasn’t pretty for the Cats. At the end of the first, Mizzou was already killing the Cats on the boards 13-7 and suffered a six minute shooting drought in the second quarter, shooting 32 percent from the field.

Holding onto a lead for the majority of the third quarter, both Kentucky and Mizzou hit 50 percent from the field. However, Mizzou barely pulled through to gain a three-point lead at 48-45 to end the quarter.

The Cats found themselves in trouble when their main post presence Evelyn Akhator went to the bench with four fouls and 8:05 left to play in the game. At this point, the Cats were trailing 50-47 and never bounced back. In fact, the Cats even saw their largest deficit of the game at 62-51 with five minutes to play.

The light at the end of the tunnel however was Makayla Epps. After struggling for about the last month, the senior topped the Cats stats with 20 points and four rebounds in 38 minutes of play. Taylor Murray also posted a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds, an awesome stat line for the sophomore guard. On top of the four fouls, Akhator struggled on both ends of the court with only eight points and six rebounds, an uncharacteristically low performance.

Just like Akhator, three other Cats also found themselves in foul trouble. Maci Morris, Makayla Epps and Alyssa Rice all had four fouls by the end of the night.

The biggest difference between the Cats and Tigers was Mizzou hit 47 percent compared to Kentucky’s 40 percent from the field. Mizzou also hit 41 percent from the three as opposed to Kentucky’s 31 percent. Everywhere else, the two teams were basically even. The Tigers barely out rebounded the Cats 33-31 and both teams had 30 points in the paint.

 

Now 15-7 on the season and 6-3 in SEC play, Kentucky has a rough week up ahead. The Cats have two back-to-back home games against No. 4 South Carolina on Thursday at 7 p.m and Vanderbilt at 12 p.m. on Sunday.


Photo By UK Athletics

Five Notes from UK Hoops HUGE win over Ole Miss

Photo By UK Athletics

Photo By UK Athletics

UK Hoops absolutely demolished Ole Miss tonight 89-57. Maggie has your post-game recap up already, but here’s a little more info on how the blowout went down.

Evelyn Akhator went off (again).

Akhator had herself a night with 28 points and 13 rebounds. For those keeping count at home, that makes 12 double-doubles this season, just a little bit impressive.

“She’s playing with great poise, shooting the ball great, really aggressive,” said Mitchell on Akhator.

Mackenzie Cann was out with the flu.

Cann came down with the flu late last night, leaving the team shorthanded at the last minute. But it didn’t really matter. Matthew Mitchell had nothing but praises to sing about this team.

“This is a high character, high quality group of women,” said Mitchell.

Morris and Epps stepped up in Cann’s absence. Epps had 20 points and Morris had 17 – including a career high five 3-pointers. Morris didn’t make her first four shots but, she didn’t give up.

“I just know my teammates need me, I’m playing for my teammates,” Maci Morris.

It was nice to watch a game without a million fouls

I thought this game went by fast but really, I’m just used to watching the Mens games take forever. It was nice NOT to hear a whistle every other minute. SEC Mens Refs, take some lessons from the Women’s Refs please.

Matt Insell has a temper. 

The former UK Hoops assistant coach/ current Ole Miss head coach would not stop screaming, not so much at his players but really more about requesting (I mean, DEMANDING) timeouts from the refs. I wasn’t even super close to him but, I’ll admit I was a little scared. I can’t really blame him though – I would be pretty mad if my team got blown out too.

“When you don’t play hard, you get your butt kicked,” said Insell.

This is the Cats fifth straight win.

This team is coming ALIVE! The Cats went on a 10-0 run at the end of the first half and continued to out-score Ole Miss for the rest of the game. The second half was a complete blowout. At halftime the score was 46-18, which is a season high half for Kentucky and a season low for Ole Miss. By the end of the third, the Cats had scored another 25 and led 71-36.

UK Hoops travels to Missouri on Monday, and will be back in Memorial to take on South Carolina on the second.

 


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


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