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.