It was a slow start for UK Hoops when they took on Alabama for their opening game in the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee on Thursday. The Cats started 0-of-4 from the field, but after turning up their defense, they were able to tie the game at 8-8 with five minutes left in the first quarter. Alabama answered with a 10-0 run to regain the lead. The score at the end of the first quarter was 18-8. Kentucky was 3-for-16 in the first quarter, while Alabama was 8-for-17.
UK Hoops scored the first six points in the second quarter, cutting Alabama’s lead to 14. The Cats were able to grab the lead for a quick moment, at 21-20, but a 4-0 run from Alabama put them back on top by the end of the half. Kentucky was able to outscore Alabama 15-7 in the second quarter, making up for lost points in the first period. The score at halftime was 25-23.
Kentucky scored another small lead in the third quarter, but three straight three-pointers from Alabama helped give the Tide a six-point lead. The score was 41-35 with five minutes left in the quarter. An 8-0 run from the Cats helped tie the game at 46-46 with 48.2 left in the quarter. The score at the end of the third quarter was 50-48, with UK Hoops in the lead.
With 8:20 left in the fourth quarter, UK Hoops had their biggest lead of the game at 54-50. No. 4 Maci Morris secured her seventh 20-point scoring game to put the Cats up 67-62 with 1:23 left. Morris also scored two big threes in the fourth quarter, helping Kentucky secure a win. The final score was 71-64.
“We have to rise up and play with a maximum Kentucky Wildcat effort tomorrow because we need this win. We need it,” Coach Matthew Mitchell said in the post-game press conference.
UK Hoops will take on Mississippi State tomorrow, Friday, March 2, in the quarterfinals of the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament.
One hour from now, UK Hoops will begin their run in the NCAA Tournament at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. Kentucky, a nine-seed, will play eight-seed Alabama at 1 p.m. ET on SEC Network. The winner will take on No. 1 Mississippi State tomorrow.
Here’s the bracket:
With a 14-16 record (6-10 in the SEC), Kentucky’s only chance of making the NCAA Tournament is winning the SEC Tournament, so tune in and cheer on the ladies.
Jess Hardin and Alyssa Rice took to the court at Memorial Coliseum for the last time today as the Cats lost to No 2 Mississippi State 85-63.
Despite it being Senior Day, the seniors barely showed up. I was pretty disappointed with Rice’s two points and three rebounds. Jess Hardin started, as per tradition but only played a few minutes throughout the game and didn’t score but two points late in the fourth.
Here’s what the seniors had to say about their time at UK (quotes taken from the press conference earlier in the week):
“It was just a place that I felt was the best fit for me. I couldn’t see myself anyplace else,” said Rice.
For Hardin, playing for Kentucky has been a dream come true coming from Monticello, Kentucky.
“I am going to remember all these wonderful girls that I have met here. The experience is everything that I had hoped it would be. It has just been great,” said Hardin.
Despite our seniors not showing up, Maci Morris did. Aren’t you surprised? Morris had 22 points (her sixth straight game with 20+ points) and went 3-5 from the three. Amanda Paschal also had a big game with 11 points and three rebounds.
Kentucky finishes the regular season 14-16 and the SEC 6-10. With this win, Mississippi State finishes the regular season 30-0. Much of that is due to Junior Center Teaira McCowan. McCowan absolutely dominated today. She had a double-double with 20 points and 20 rebounds. This is her 22 double-double of the season and also, she already the double-double in the second quarter. We were doomed from the beginning against her. She also had a HUGEEEE (no pun intended, though she is 6-foot-7) block over Taylor Murray (R.I.P. Taylor).
A big congrats to both Alyssa Rice and Jessica Hardin for putting forth time and effort to this UK Hoops team during their college years. I know I’ll miss them! A big thanks to all you UK Hoops fans, too for reading my posts and supporting the Cats this season! Let’s hope next year is better! I have a feeling it will be! Go Cats!
It was a bittersweet senior day for No. 15 Jessica Hardin and No. 45 Alyssa Rice, who both started in today’s game against Mississippi State. Unfortunately the game ended in an 85-63 loss to Mississippi State.
The crowd at Memorial Coliseum were on their feet early as UK Hoops started the game strong. The score was 9-3, but Mississippi State took the lead with four straight threes. The score at the end of the first quarter was 21-18, with the Cats hitting 7-of-17 from the field.
While the second quarter started with UK Hoops in possession of the ball, they missed their first two shots. A three and a layup from Mississippi State allowed them to increase their lead to 26-18. The Cats were able to cut this lead to late in the second quarter, but a 6-0 run from Mississippi State put the score at 46-31 at the end of the half. No. 4 Maci Morris hit 16 points in the first half, but Mississippi State, who averages seven threes per game, had already hit six in the first half.
The Bulldogs increased this lead in the third quarter, shooting 10-for-13 from the field and hitting multiple threes. By the end of the third quarter, Mississippi State had hit 8-of-14 in threes, putting the score at 68-49.
While the Bulldogs secured a win in the final quarter, Morris scored 22 points. This game was her sixth-straight 20-plus scoring game, making her the only player in the SEC to do that this season. Seniors Hardin and Rice also found themselves receiving a standing ovation from Memorial Coliseum at the end of the game. The final score was 85-63.
While this is UK Hoops last home game for the season, the first round of the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament will take place on Wednesday, February 28 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.
Today is Senior Day for two Kentucky women’s basketball players, Alyssa Rice and Jessica Hardin.
Even though two seniors will be celebrated, Rice deserves the biggest. She stuck with this program during a time of mass departure and confusion.
“At times it looked dark, but I’m really proud of my decision to stay,” Rice told Jen Smith of the Lexington Herald-Leader.
During the time of the mass exodus, Rice’s parents checked on her making sure nothing bad was going on behind the scenes and that their daughter was okay.
“She [Alyssa] said, ‘There’s no place I want to be but Kentucky,” Laurie Rice said.
That meant a lot for Matthew Mitchell.
“She’s one of them that will stick in my mind and my heart forever because that was a really difficult time, and Alyssa and the loyalty and support and energy that she gave,” Mitchell said.
The Reynoldsburg, Ohio native is averaging 6.8 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. Rice leads the team in blocks with 31 and 16 charges taken.
The team is likely to miss the NCAA Tournament, but this year has helped Rice when it comes to her future.
“It has been a great year of growth for her,” Mitchell said. “I think it will benefit her as she moves along in life.”
“Basketball can lead you down so many great paths,” Rice said. “I had no idea how many opportunities would come just through dribbling a basketball.”
It was another tough loss for Kentucky today as they fell to South Carolina 81-63. UK Hoops started off the game 6-of-13 from the field. An early three from No. 4 Maci Morris helped Kentucky come out strong in the first period. The score at the end of the first period was 19-18, with South Carolina holding a slight lead over the Cats.
The second period found UK Hoops lacking in their offense. Kentucky started off the period 0-4 from the field, with five turnovers. The Gamecocks were able to score their biggest lead of the game on a 13-0 run. The Cats only scored 2-of-11 from the field and had eight turnovers in the second period. The score at halftime was 38-26.
South Carolina scored 29 points in the third period, including 11 from the free throw line. Kentucky just wasn’t able to stop the Gamecocks, who were scoring 54% from the field and had hit 5 threes by the end of the third period. The score at the end of the third period was 67-44.
In the fourth period, UK Hoops hit a season high of 18 turnovers. The Cats were shooting 36%, their worst field goal percentage in a game since their game on January 15 against Vanderbilt. But, it wasn’t all bad news for Kentucky: Morris hit a career-high 35 points. The final score was 81-63.
“Great game for South Carolina today,” Coach Matthew Mitchell said in the post-game press conference. “They out-hustled us today.” As for Morrison’s career-high 35 point, Coach Mitchell had this to say: “She has worked really hard and we executed. Her teammates helped her get open with some good screens but she really gave it a great effort. Tough kid.”
UK Hoops will play the University of Mississippi at Mississippi on Thursday, February 22, at 8:30 pm. Kentucky will be back at Memorial Coliseum to take on Mississippi State University on Sunday, February 25 at noon.
By Maggie Davis on ©February 18th, 2018 @ 2:00pm
After a dominate 78-57 victory over Arkansas Thursday, the Kentucky women’s basketball team looks to stay in the win column this afternoon. The team is back on the road to play No. 8 South Carolina inside Colonial Life Arena. The Gamecocks have won seven straight games against Kentucky, including their 81-64 defeat over the Wildcats earlier this season.
The Cats fell to the then-No. 10 South Carolina inside Rupp Arena back in January. Junior Maci Morris scored 19 points and Taylor Murray added 17, but the duo was not enough to overcome South Carolina’s 60 percent field-goal shooting.
In order to compete with the Gamecocks today, Kentucky will need to recreate their balanced offense from last Thursday. Against Arkansas, the Cats had five players score in double figures: Morris joined Alyssa Rice, Keke McKinney, Tatyana Wyatt and Dorie Harrison. UK had the 32-7 advantage in bench points and a 38-12 edge in points in the paint.
On the defensive end, the Wildcats will have their hands full with the reining SEC Player of the Year A’ja Wilson, who is averaging 22.5 points per game and adding an average of 11.6 rebounds. On the season, she’s shooting 54.9 percent from the field. Wilson is currently on the watchlist for National Player of the Year – she needs just 36 more points to hit 1,000 points in SEC regular-season games.
Coach Matthew Mitchell knows the road ahead is a tough one.
“Victories right now are important there is no doubt about that, but we have a very difficult final three games,” Mitchell said. “Two out of the three are against top ranked teams that are at the top of our conference and then another road game. So it is a difficult stretch.”
Luckily, the Cats found some mojo during their shoot around this morning:
— Kentucky WBB (@KentuckyWBB) February 18, 2018
The game is USC’s annual Pink Game for breast cancer survivors. Tip is set for 3 p.m. and can be seen on the SEC network. Check back in following the game for more UK Hoops coverage!
It was a big night for our lady cats! They beat Arkansas 78-57 and played an amazing game. Before you go to bed, here’s a couple of late night leftovers.
Our older players delivered
Maci Morris, who was honored before the game for her 1,000 point had a near perfect game tonight. Morris scored the Cats’ first nine points of the game. She finished with 20 points, and went 7-11 from the field. Morris has had a tough couple of months trying to play through this bone bruise and it seems like tonight she finally came back.
“Once I hit a couple shots, I was feelin’ it a little bit,” said Morris.
But the real star of the show tonight was Alyssa Rice. Rice scored a whopping 13 points and had nine rebounds – so close to getting that double-double! Last week, I mentioned how Rice could come forward as the Senior leader of this team. If young players like McKinney and Harrison learn from her game tonight, our bigs could be great next year.
Our third quarter collapse is gone..?
Maybe. Hopefully. At least we broke through it for this game. There was a point in the third quarter where we were tied at 45. I for one, got real worried that this UK Hoops team would lose the game right then and there. We went four and a half minutes without scoring, while Arkansas went on a 9-0 run. But then we came back. We came back. And won. By almost 20 points. Let’s hope this continues.
“It was good of our team to really dig deep and adjust to a very hot team that can get you discouraged,” said Matthew Mitchell.
And adjust we did. We outshot Arkansas by 18% and most impressively, out-scored them in the paint 38-12. UK Hoops out-rebounded the Razorbacks 44-31 too. Rebounding made all the difference in this game. Morris (5), Murray (5), and Rice (9) fought and attacked for their rebounds.
With those numbers, how could we not win?
Freshman! Freshman! Freshman!
“Do somethin’ crazy”
Y’all. We had three freshmen in double figures tonight. Tatyana Wyatt and KeKe McKinney both finished with 11 points, and Dorie Harrison finished with 10. Yeah, these young girls can play!
“It was huge to have three freshmen in double figures,” said Mitchell.
Mitchell emphasized the importance of these freshman, specifically Wyatt’s scoring giving the Cats a lift when they were down in the third.
Like I said before, give these girls another year and they’ll be phenomenal.
UK Hoops travels to South Carolina on Sunday and will be back at home NEXT Sunday to end the season.
It was a victory for UK Hoops against the University of Arkansas on Thursday night at Memorial Coliseum 78-57. After being honored as the 33rd member of the 1,000 Point Club, Maci Morris started the game off right for Kentucky with a 6-0 run. But Arkansas was able to gain eight offensive rebounds in the first quarter, giving them a slight advantage by the time the buzzer sounded. The score at the end of the first quarter was 20-19, with Arkansas holding the lead.
The Cats managed to grab their lead back in the second quarter with a three from No. 3 Keke McKinney and a putback from No. 45 Alyssa Rice. Kentucky had an eleven point lead but two threes from the Razorbacks trimmed UK’s lead to seven. The score at the end of the half was 39-32.
UK Hoops regained their eleven point lead early in the second half, but an 11-0 run and back-to-back threes from Arkansas tied the game at 45-45 with less than five minutes left in the third quarter. Two free throw points from Morris and a three from No. 14 Tatyana Wyatt gave Kentucky a five-point lead. The Cats were able to increase this lead to ten with a 12-2 run to end the quarter. The score at the end of the third quarter was 57-46.
Points from Wyatt and Rice helped the Cats secure their biggest lead of the game in the fourth quarter, with the score 64-39 halfway through the last period. Rice scored an and-one with less than five minutes left in the game. The final score was 78-57. It was a 20-point game for Morris, with McKinney, Rice, Wyatt, and No. 20 Dorie Harrison all scoring in the double digits.
“Proud of our players,” Coach Matthew Mitchell said in the post game press conference. “It was tied there at 45-45 and we executed down the stretch and were able to get Arkansas to miss some points.”
Kentucky will be on the road this weekend to take on the University of South Carolina on Sunday, Feb 18, at 3 pm. UK Hoops will be back in Memorial to play Mississippi State University on Sunday, February 25, at noon.
The Kentucky women’s basketball team fell behind early and, despite 21 points from Maci Morris, could never catch up to the No. 2 Mississippi State Bulldogs. The Cats lost 74-55 on the road, dropping their record to 12-14 on the season and 4-8 in the conference. Mississippi State remains undefeated: 26-0 and 12-0 in the SEC.
The Bulldogs dominated the Wildcats right out of the gates. By the end of the first quarter, Mississippi State had already built a 22-8 lead. And Kentucky’s immediate foul trouble did not help their comeback effort. UK was called for nine team fouls in the first period, sending MSU to the line, where they went 7-for-10. The foul trouble continued throughout the remainder of the first half, and the Cats entered the locker room at the break with four players with two fouls and two players with three fouls.
Because of said foul trouble, the Cats had to go deep into their bench – all nine players who checked into the game played at least ten minutes, while only six of Mississippi State’s eight players saw more than seven minutes of floor time. Kentucky’s long lineup gave them the 21-1 advantage for points off the bench.
UK also won the battle of the boards, out-rebounding the Bulldogs 39-33, a stat Coach Matthew Mitchell was impressed with given the Bulldog’s physicality.
“To outrebound this team is a really tough task,” Coach Mitchell said. “[It] shows how hard we played.”
Kentucky tried to stage a comeback in the third quarter, outscoring the Bulldogs 21-16 to cut Mississippi State’s lead to nine. Maci Morris got hot, scoring 13 points during the third period alone. But it wasn’t enough, and the Bulldogs pushed the lead back to 13 points by the end of the quarter.
Both Morris and Taylor Murray picked up their fifth and final foul during the fourth quarter, and any Kentucky momentum checked out of the game with them. Dorie Harrison made strong contributions for the Wildcats today, scoring eight points and grabbing nine rebounds. Her performance earned her praise from Coach Mitchell after the game.
“I loved the way that [Harrison] presented herself in practice this week and think she played so well today,” Mitchell said.
Despite the final score, Coach Mitchell was impressed with his team’s effort today, which is a change from previous games when Mitchell said his players lacked the energy needed to win.
“I think that we did some good things today and really found some stuff that worked there in the second half,” Michell said. “We will be better because of this game.”
Today’s loss marked the third consecutive loss for the Wildcats. Kentucky will return to action inside Memorial Coliseum this Thursday, February 15 to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks. Tip is set for 7 p.m. and can be seen on the SEC Network.
Both teams started the game strong, with UK Hoops starting 4-of-10 from the field, while Mizzou scored 5-of-8. Kentucky found themselves lacking defensively shortly in to the first period and the Tigers were able to take their biggest lead of the game at 18-11. Mizzou scored 11-of-14 during the first period, while the Cats found themselves only scoring two field goals in the last five minutes of the quarter. The score at the end of the first period was 26-15.
The second period started with the Tigers gaining a 16-point lead over Kentucky, but the Cats were able to turn up the heat defensively. The Tigers had a clear advantage in paint points at the beginning of the second quarter, going 14-4 against the Cats, but by halftime, UK Hoops had brought that number to 16-12. A shot from No. 24 Taylor Murray at the buzzer cut the Mizzou’s lead to 9. Mizzou was 16-of-25 from the field, while Kentucky was 13-of-29 by halftime. The score at halftime was 41-32, with the Tigers still holding the lead.
No. 45 Alyssa Rice started the second half with her second block of the game, ranking her at the 10th all-time in program history in career blocks with 81. The Cats trimmed Mizzou’s lead to five with a 4-0 run early in the quarter, but the Tigers responded with a 10-2 run that put the score at 51-38 halfway through the third period. The Tigers found success with scoring in the third quarter, hitting 63% of their shots. The score at the end of the third period was 59-46.
It was another nail biting finish for UK Hoops. Kentucky was trailing 73-65 with two minutes left in the game, but a free throw from No. 4 Maci Morris cut Mizzou’s lead to seven. Three free throws from No. 14 Tatyana Wyatt, along with two free throws and a three from Murray, helped the Cats to hang on in the final moments of the game. With 7.2 seconds left, the score was 81-78 with the Tigers holding a small lead. Two free throws from the Tigers helped Mizzou secure their win. The final score was 83-78.
The Cats will be on the road again to play Mississippi State University on Sunday, Feb 11 at 2 pm. UK Hoops will be back in Memorial on Thursday, Feb 15 at 7 pm to take on the University of Arkansas.
By Maggie Davis on ©February 04th, 2018 @ 9:00pm
After winning three consecutive conference games, the Kentucky women’s basketball team couldn’t sustain the heat, falling 72-70 to LSU inside Rupp Arena. The Cats are now 12-12 on the season and 4-6 in the SEC. You can catch up on the nitty-gritty of the game by reading Karly’s article here, but first, read up on why Kentucky didn’t come up with the W.
Cats couldn’t finish in fourth
The Wildcats have become accustomed to bringing their best in the fourth quarter, and they did so again today. After shooting woes in the first half – Kentucky hit just 13.3 percent from the field in the first quarter – the Cats entered halftime trailing 38-26. At the beginning of the final period, LSU led by eight points, which Kentucky slowly chipped away at throughout the quarter. With just 18 seconds remaining, the Cats were down by one, setting up Maci Morris for the game-tying shot. But it wasn’t meant to be, as the junior’s shot rimmed out at the last second.
But, according to Coach Matthew Mitchell, Morris’ long-two wasn’t the plan.
“When she missed that one, what I was hoping was that Taylor [Murray] could go to the bucket, but I will have to look and see where that was, but we kind of kicked it over flat,” Mitchell said. “What we wanted is if she turned the corner and laid it up it’s on the attack. If she couldn’t do that, get into a dribble hand-off so Amanda [Paschal] is now going off the attack. We kind of dribbled it in, kicked it into a standing-still to Amanda. So, it wasn’t that great of a look.”
Morris finished with a team-high 17 points, but that missed bucket at the end was the one that really mattered.
And although the fourth quarter was a strong one for the Cats, it just came too late.
“One thing we’ve been trying to do in the past couple of games is come out with a lot of energy, and we just didn’t have that in the first quarter,” point guard Taylor Murray, who finished with 16 points and six assists, said after the game. “Once you do that, you have to make up for all that, so we need to do a better job coming up and sticking with that energy and playing like we did in the third and fourth quarter.”
Speaking of energy…
Statistically speaking, Kentucky finished the game fairly evenly with the Tigers, and, in some aspects, the Cats even showed more efficiency than their opponent. On the game, UK shot 52 percent from the field, while LSU hit just 44 percent. From behind-the-arc, the margin of victory for the Wildcats was even greater: Kentucky went 7-18 for 39 percent, while the Tigers finished 2-15 for 13 percent. Both teams hit 82 percent from the free-throw line.
So how’d Kentucky lose? According to Mitchell, his team was “out-hustled.”
“[LSU] played a lot harder than we did, looked like they wanted the game a little bit more than we did and that is a bitter pill to swallow looking at where we’re at in our season in trying to make some progress forward,” the head coach said. “I’m a little bit disappointed today because the game came down to effort and we didn’t give everything that we had.”
The Cats’ lack-luster spirit began at tip-off, when the Tigers capitalized off of Kentucky’s 0-9 early shooting performance to build a quick 6-0 lead. Though they eventually cut the lead to just one point, the Cats never controlled this game.
“We were getting outrebounded and outhustled from the jump ball,” Mitchell said. “On the boards, it was just a day where there was no mystery to this game. They are a good team: strong, big and have some great athletes, and your effort had to exceed theirs. We didn’t get that done which makes it very disappointing.”
The boards did show a huge disadvantage for the Cats: Kentucky got outrebounded 35-23, including 18-5 off the offensive glass. And while the team’s turnover numbers are fairly close (15 for the Cats, 12 for the Tigers), it was LSU’s ability to capitalize off of these miscues that pushed them ahead. The Tigers scored 21 points off of Kentucky turnovers, while the Cats only earned 13 such points.
It was definitely a game they could have won and should have won,” Mitchell said. “So, we need to build on that, we’re definitely a lot better than we were a month and a half ago. We need to come back tough and see if we can strengthen our minds in what will be a very physical and tough game Thursday night.
Like Coach Mitchell said, the Cats will be back in action on Thursday to visit Missouri. Tipoff is set for 9 p.m. and the game can be seen on the SEC Network.
UK Hoops faced off against the LSU Tigers on Sunday afternoon at Rupp Arena. Kentucky started the game struggling offensively, landing zero of their first eight field goal attempts. An and-one from No. 20 Dorie Harrison had the crowd at Rupp on their feet about halfway through the first quarter. But by the end of the period, the Cats were only 2-of-15 from the field, and hitting only 33% of their free throws. LSU held a significant lead by the time the buzzer sounded, with the score 16-5.
The Cats turned up the heat offensively, making 90% of their field goals in the second period. Kentucky worked to cut LSU’s lead to seven points, but a three by LSU brought their lead back up to 12 by the end of the first half. The score at the end of the second period was 38-26.
While the third period started with UK Hoops in possession of the ball, the Cats struggled with two missed threes from No. 4 Maci Morris. A three from No. 3 Keke McKinney cut LSU’s lead to eight, but three straight turnovers from Kentucky helped the Tigers on a 7-0 run. Morris scored a three with less than a minute left on the clock, and UK Hoops ended the period on a 7-0 run. The score at the end of the third period was 51-43 with the Tigers still holding a big lead over the Cats.
The third period was all about threes and free throws for Kentucky. After two threes from Morris and a three from No. 12 Amanda Paschal, the crowd at Rupp was on their feet for the last two minutes of the game. Murray was sent to the line and hit both of her free throws, cutting LSU’s lead to 69-66. The Tigers increased their lead to 70-66 with a free throw, but a field goal from Murray brought the score to 70-68, with 27.2 seconds left in the game. The crowd was brimming with nervous energy and excitement as LSU was sent back to the line, making another shot. The Cats were down by three when Morris was fouled. She made both of her free throws, bringing the score to 71-70 with less than 12 seconds left in the game. A last attempt at a shot to tie the game from Morris didn’t land, and LSU walked away with a win. The final score was 72-70.
“I’m real disappointed today because the game came down to effort and we didn’t give everything we had and that was really, really disappointing,” Coach Mitchell said in the post-game press conference. “The progress we’ve made is what makes it so disappointing. We’re definitely a lot better than we were a month and a half ago.” Kentucky is now 12-12 this season.
UK Hoops will play the University of Missouri at the Mizzou Arena on Thursday, Feb 8, at 9 pm. The Wildcats will be back in Memorial at 7 pm on Thursday, Feb 15, to take on the University of Arkansas.
The Kentucky women’s basketball team came through with a big win tonight over Auburn. The Wildcats defeated the Tigers 65-48 inside Memorial Coliseum and clinched their third consecutive double-digit win over an SEC opponent. Savannah has a game recap for you here, but first, take a look at the three main takeaways from the victory:
Cats come up huge in the 4th
Kentucky struggled offensively for the duration of the first three quarters. Although they were leading by four (42-38) at the end of the third period, the Wildcats had hit just 11-36 (31 percent) from the field. But when the Cats got the ball to start the final quarter, they came out firing.
Kentucky scored the first 13 points of the quarter, leading to a 17-point cushion for the Wildcats. Maci Morris drained her fifth three-pointer of the game, and Kentucky continued to expand their lead. The Cats finished the quarter on a 24-3 run, outscoring the Tigers 23-10 in the fourth period.
Coach Matthew Mitchell was obviously happy with his team’s effort in the final ten minutes.
“Beautiful fourth quarter,” Mitchell said. “People just flying all over the place and making plays. Excited about that.”
Maci Morris hits 1,000
After inching closer and closer over the past several games, the Bell County native finally made it official tonight. Morris hit her 1,000th point early in the first quarter after back-to-back three-pointers. She just needed four points to secure a place in the club, but she finished the night with 18, including five buckets from behind-the-arc. She’s the 33rd player in program history to score 1,000 career points.
“That’s a great accomplishment for her,” Coach Mitchell said. “She really, really lit it up from the 3 for us and kind of steadied the ship when we were having a hard time figuring out how to beat that zone. She made some big, big shots. So proud of her. She’s an absolute warrior.”
Defense stole the show
While Kentucky’s surge in the fourth quarter looks like the result of a strong offensive effort on paper, the team’s tough defense is the real reason for the run. The fourth quarter was the Cats’ highest-scoring quarter of the game, but it was also the Tiger’s lowest. Auburn scored just 10 points in the final quarter, and they took just 15 shots.
The Wildcats out-rebounded their opponent 36-27, including 23 defensive rebounds, while grabbing 16 steals.
Kentucky forced 25 Auburn turnovers, and they were able to convert these miscues into 32 points. Tonight marked the Cats’ fourth consecutive game in which the team scored 20 or more points off turnovers.
“We’re trying to find ways to win games, trying to find ways to get better,” Mitchell said. “Tonight was a good night as far as forcing turnovers. So, proud of them and we just need to come back to work tomorrow really humble and hungry and try to get better tomorrow.”
Check out all of the night’s highlights below, courtesy of KY Wildcats TV.
W W W
— Kentucky WBB (@KentuckyWBB) February 2, 2018
The Cats will be back in action Sunday at 7 p.m. to host LSU. The game will be played inside Rupp Arena, but if you can’t make the trip to Lexington, you can catch it on the SEC Network.