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By Brooks Holton on ©February 08th, 2016 @ 5:01pm
With only eleven days remaining until Kentucky Baseball takes the field for the start of its 2016 campaign, the team held its annual Media Day at Commonwealth Stadium this afternoon. Head Coach Gary Henderson delivered a great opening press conference, offering plenty of insights as to what fans can expect from a 2016 Bat Cats team hungry to make a name for itself in arguably the most competitive conference in the country. It’s as early as it can get, but you have to like the confidence Henderson has when talking about his players and what he’s seen from them so far this offseason. Check out the clips below, and stay tuned for KSR’s series of 2016 Season Preview posts coming soon as we gear up for what should be an exciting spring at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
On infield/outfield depth and position battles.
On senior RHP’s Kyle Cody and Dustin Beggs returning for a final season after being selected in the 2015 MLB Draft and the state of the 2016 pitching staff.
On what to expect from the Wildcat lineup offensively.
It’s been a trying couple of weeks for the Cats, losing three straight, the Lady Cats needed a win just as bad as the guys did yesterday.
And just like the guys, women’s hoops came out and battled to defeat LSU 70-58 and Janee Thompson was a critical piece to the victory.
Recording her third double-double of her career with 16 points, 10 assists and two rebounds, Thompson lead her team to the much needed win.
After struggling offensively for the last few weeks, Kentucky was able to get things clicking early on both ends of the court. A few early baskets by Maci Morris, who has definitely had her shooting woes of her own recently put the helped put the Cats up early with a lead of 16 at 26-10 at the end of the first quarter.
Despite a great first quarter, the second period came back to haunt the Cats. LSU went on a 6-0 run and Kentucky almost had more turnovers than points, turning the ball over six times and scoring 11 points. The last 7 of those being made in the last 2 minutes of the period. However, Kentucky was still able to hold onto the ending the first half up 37-22.
Back in form, the Cats poured it onto LSU in the third period. Kentucky scored another 21 points and held the Tiger’s to just 14. Both the Cats and the Tigers fell into foul trouble during the third period; LSU having three players with three players and one with four and Kentucky having one player with three fouls and two with four fouls.
Even though the Cats were outscored 22-12 in the fourth period, the Cats were still able to hold onto the lead even when Evelyn Akhator fouled out. The entire game the Cats were able to score on transition and break LSU’s zone and nothing changed during the fourth period.
As for the rest of the team, Morris was able to finally get some buckets to fall, scoring 14 and grab three rebounds. Alexis Jennings was able to score 11 points and get five rebounds. Makayla Epps, however struggled today only scoring five points, grabbing three rebounds but getting five assists.
The Cats go back on the road playing at Vanderbilt next Sunday at 4 on the SEC Network.
By Miss J.C. Ausmus on ©February 04th, 2016 @ 10:15pm
After two straight losses, Kentucky looked to rebound tonight against #2 South Carolina in Columbia. Despite Makayla Epps dropping 17 points in the second half, Kentucky just couldn’t get it done tonight and fell to the Gamecocks, 78-68.
To say Kentucky was ice cold to start the game was an understatement. In the first six minutes of the game, the Wildcats went 2 for 11 while South Carolina made 5 of their first seven baskets. With 4:45 left in the first quarter, the Cats trailed by seven. Kentucky was down, but not out. South Carolina only scored one basket the last four minutes of the quarter, giving Taylor Murray the opportunity to cut Kentucky’s deficit to two. At the end of the first quarter, Kentucky trailed 15-11. Not terrible considering the Cats shot an abysmal 29% from the field.
Neither team managed to score in the first two minutes of the second quarter until South Carolina’s Cliney was fouled on a made basket, extending the lead to 7. Alexis Jennings was quick to answer on the next play, cutting it back down to five. Janee Thompson, who broke her leg at South Carolina last year, put up a gorgeous three pointer to cut it to two. A basket by Jennings got Kentucky their first lead of the game, 21-20 with 5:53 left in the half. South Carolina was able to get the lead back two minutes later and extended it to seven. At the end of the half, Kentucky trailed by 5, 35-30. Maci Morris and Alexis Jennings led the Cats in scoring with 8 apiece. Batouly Camara had 4 rebounds. During the first half, Kentucky shot 39% from the field. South Carolina outrebounded the Wildcats 20-15 and outscored them in the paint, 22-12.
South Carolina started the second half with three unanswered baskets, extending their lead to 11. Batouly Camara cut it to nine with Kentucky’s first points of the second half at 7:25 in the third quarter. This was a really physical game; half of Kentucky’s eight available players notched three fouls to close out the third period: Thompson, Akhator, Jennings, and Rice. At the 2:37 mark, Makayla Epps joined the 1,000 point club with a layup to chip into the Cats’ deficit, 49-42. With only two seconds left in the quarter, Makayla Epps, who scored 13 points in the third period, got the Cats within one on a three point play, but a three pointer by USC’s Sessions at the buzzer extended it back to four. At the end of the third, the Cats trailed the Gamecocks, 57-53.
The fourth quarter was quiet for the Cats. With 6:05 left in the game, Kentucky had only scored four points in the period. Jennings brought the Cats within five with a couple of buckets at the charity stripe, but South Carolina was just too much for Kentucky to handle with such a short bench. In the final ten minutes of the game, most of Kentucky’s roster was in serious foul trouble; Thompson, Jennings, Camara, and Morris all had four fouls and Akhator, Murray, and Rice had three apiece. Batouly Camara fouled out with just over two minutes left in the game with a career night of 14 points and 9 rebounds. Despite Makayla Epps catching fire and scoring all of her 17 points in the second half, Kentucky was just not able to scrape out the victory and goes down to #2 South Carolina in Columbia, 78-68.
Despite the intimidating environment against the undefeated, second ranked team in the nation, Kentucky fought hard. Four Wildcats finished the game in double-digit scoring, Epps with 17, Camara with 14, Jennings with 12, and Morris with 10. Camara led the team in rebounding with 9, followed by Akhator with 5. Kentucky shot 41% in the game, and tallied 32 rebounds. A bright side of the game was that the Cats only committed 11 turnovers, a far cry from the last game where they had 30. South Carolina outscored Kentucky in the paint, 44-38.
Here’s today’s box score:
With this loss, Kentucky falls to 15-6 on the season and 4-6 in conference. They will be back in Memorial on Sunday at noon to face an 8-14 LSU squad. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network. If you are in the Lexington area, get to campus and support our Cats. They need Memorial to be loud and proud on Sunday.
By Haley Simpson on ©February 04th, 2016 @ 10:49am
When Lindsey Duvall, a 2017 Hoops commit, had surgery in November to remove a grape-sized tumor near her left knee everyone thought that she would be missing the entirety of her junior season. However, luckily for her and the Bullitt East Lady Chargers that is not the case. According to Jason Frakes, Duvall has been cleared to practice with her team today and could be back for the final week of regular season play in a couple of weeks.
Duvall’s return would be an incredible addition to the Lady Chargers who are currently 15-4 and ranked 16th in the state. Currently ranked in the Collegiate Girls Basketball Report as the No. 1o overall player and No. 3 point guard in the nation.
““It’s a big emotional lift for her and for us,” Stallings said. “It comes at a good time I think, when you’re needing a little jolt of energy heading into the postseason. Just the experience that she brings and the confidence is a big boost right here at the end of the year.”
Stallings said Duvall will go through her first practice Thursday afternoon. The Chargers return to action Saturday against Leslie County in the Scott Blank Classic at Buckhorn. But Stallings doesn’t expect Duvall to see game action until possibly the final week of the regular season. District tournament play will begin Feb. 22.”
This is great news for Duvall and I know that I am sure excited to be able to go and watch Duvall return to the court and I’m sure her team is as well.
Bullitt East’s/UK commit Lindsey Duvall, out all year after having tumor removed, cleared to practice, may play soon https://t.co/LRf4U6q4ca
— Jason Frakes (@kyhighs) February 4, 2016
Read the full story here.
By Nick Roush on ©February 02nd, 2016 @ 4:00pm
The familiar voice of Carl Nathy will no longer echo throughout Cliff Hagan and John Cropp Stadiums this Spring. Now, UK Athletics is searching for someone to take fans through each home game for the UK baseball and softball teams. Here’s what they’re looking for:
Candidates should have strong vocal talent, confidence on and experience with a live microphone, knowledge of sports and rules, proficiency enunciating complex names, and availability for nights and weekends.
If I was available for nights and weekends, you better believe I’d be in line to audition. I’ve PA’d for a volleyball National Championship before, and it was a lot of fun (I managed to find a way to stay out of trouble, believe it or not).
Auditions are next Wednesday and Thursday from 6:00-9:00 at John Cropp Stadium. Sign up here and bring your best pipes.
Women’s Hoops opened the hardest part of their SEC schedule on the road to Florida today, losing to the Gators in the Swamp 79-85.
The Cats were plagued once again with turnovers, foul problems and sloppy defense early on in the game but were able to battle back to get it within two points with just under a minute left.
Missing their seven out of their first 10 shots, the Cats struggled early offensively. Janee Thompson was their only offensive source for a good part of the first period, scoring the first nine points of the game, including two back-to-back three pointers.
The second period was better for the Cats, even gaining the lead once, but losing it within 10 seconds. Maci Morris gathered 10 points in a three minute span. Kentucky hit seven out of nine shots to give them a little offensive spark, but still trailed 43-49 at the half.
Opening the second half with Morris, Thompson and Alexis Jennings on the brink of foul trouble, the Cats were playing sloppy defensively and offensively. Florida surged offensively late in the third quarter, getting up 60-47 but then Makayla Epps happened. Only scoring 7 points in the first half, Epps scored 20 of her 27 in the second half (a season-high for Epps) getting her team within five points at 70-75 with two minutes left.
The Cat’s two best three-point shooters had fouled out (Morris) or were in severe foul trouble (Thompson) at this point, but Kentucky was still able to get it within two at 79-81 with 17 seconds left in the game before Thompson fouled out, sending Florida to the line. Florida would go on to make their first and miss the second, giving Kentucky the ball, just for them to turn it over for Florida to make a layup and draw a foul to seal the game.
Turnovers have been an issue for the Cats all season and today was no different, turning the ball over 30 times for the season high (previous was 26 at Auburn). Out of those 30 turnovers, Florida scored 24 points.
Also, Kentucky is usually a team who is incredibly dominate in the paint, but tonight struggled to produce offensively. Even though they out rebounded the Gators 35-24, Florida massacred them in points in the paint, outscoring them 50-28.
Individually, Thompson, Morris and Akhator were all able to contribute offensively and defensively. Before fouling out with 17 seconds left, Thompson had 17 points and three rebounds, Morris had 10 points and Akhator had 14 points and 10 rebounds.
The Cats will continue their stretch of road game at South Carolina on Thursday at 7.
It was another close one in Memorial tonight. After taking down the Vols Monday night, the #12 Cats made a quick turnaround to play Vandy, who is currently 3rd in the conference. After a super tight game, the Cats lost in a heartbreaker, 71-69.
To start the game, Evelyn Akhator drove down the lane to give the Cats an early 2-0 lead. Vanderbilt managed to score a few times, but didn’t have an answer for Kentucky’s speed. At the first media timeout, the Cats led 12-5. Kentucky kept the ball rolling throughout the first ten minutes leading by 9 going into the second period. During the first quarter, Kentucky ate Vandy up down low, outscoring the Dores in the paint 14-6 and outrebounding them by 50%.
Vanderbilt started out the second quarter with a long jumper to cut the Cats lead to six before Makayla Epps scored. Vanderbilt managed to cut the lead to two with 6:43 left in the half, and took the one point lead a minute later with a three pointer. Janee Thompson hit a gorgeous three pointer to take back Kentucky’s lead 29-27, only for Vandy to tie it back up on the next possession. The two teams exchanged baskets to end the half, and finished with a gorgeous wide-open three pointer from Janee Thompson to tie the game back up at 34 a-piece. At the half, Kentucky was shooting a nice 55% from the field and 40% from the three point line. In the first two quarters, the Wildcats outrebounded the Commodores 17-11 and outscored them in the paint 18-12. Janee Thompson led the Cats in scoring with 12, followed by Akhator with 10 points and 5 rebounds.
The Commodores started the second half on a roll, quickly going on a 6-0 run to take the lead, 40-34. Makayla Epps brought the Cats back within four, but Vanderbilt scored yet again to extend the lead. Epps rebounded her own miss and put it back in to cut the lead to four again, but Kentucky couldn’t buy a defensive stop tonight. Maci Morris made her first points of the game at 4:07 left in the third period to cut the lead to two and excite the Memorial crowd. Kentucky tied it 49 all with a layup by Alexis Jennings, assisted by Morris with 2:20 left in the period. Shortly after, Morris got fouled hard, made both of her foul shots, and Kentucky took the lead, 51-49. At the end of the third, the Cats led by one, 53-52.
Vandy momentarily took the lead in the first two minutes of the final quarter, but Evelyn Akhator put the ball in the basket a few seconds later to get Kentucky’s lead back. The crowd absolutely exploded when Makayla Epps made a way out there three at the 6:24 mark, stretching the lead 62-58. Vandy took the one point lead again with three minutes left to play, but Alexis Jennings took it right back, 65-64. The Dores made a three pointer and another basket to get a five point lead in the closing 16 seconds. Makayla Epps stepped up to charity strike and cut the lead to three and then hit a basket to make it a one point game with 11.8 seconds left, but Vandy was able to hit a foul shot to make it a two point lead. Kentucky loses in a tight, tight game, 71-69.
Part of Kentucky’s demise was the 38% shooting from the field in the second half. The Cats shot 21% from the three point line in the game while Vandy went 10-24. UK committed 12 turnovers, but forced 16 TO’s off the Dores, turning them into 20 points. Kentucky outscored Vandy in the paint, 40-24, and rebounding was dead-even between the two teams at 32 all. Epps led all scorers with 25, followed by Janee Thompson with 14 points and 6 assists. Akhator led the team in rebounding with 6.
“We can’t hang our heads right now, we have to be a resilient bunch now. Tonight’s disappointing, but there’s brighter days ahead.” Coach Matthew Mitchell said after the game.
Here’s tonight’s box score:
The Cats will look to recover down in Gainesville against the Gators on Sunday. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network at 1pm.
Until then, Go Cats.
From softball and soccer to track and football, the UK baseball field is one of the few facilities on campus that hasn’t received a recent major facelift. One of the items that was left out of yesterday’s proposal was a major renovation of Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Built in 1979, The Cliff received some minor upgrades in 2002 and 2006, but baseball fans were hoping to see some major moves made. There’s a possibility that some of the money set-aside vaguely for “athletic facility improvements” could go to The Cliff, but they’ll likely have to wait at least another year for a dramatic renovation.
A few other projects that were specifically included: expansion of the Boone Tennis Center, acquire/upgrade a new golf facility, Nutter Training Center renovation upon the completion of the new facility, and a “Hall of Fame Plaza” at the entrance of Memorial Coliseum.
Even though the stadium does not live up to current SEC standards, it has not negatively affected the team’s performance. Baseball America tabbed them as #25 in the preseason college baseball poll and third-baseman Javon Shelby was named a preseason All-American.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 27th, 2016 @ 2:30pm
Last night, UK Hoops beat Tennessee 64-63 in a thriller at Memorial Coliseum, which, understandably, had Lady Vols fans a bit miffed this morning. Shoutout to KSR reader Jeremy Kemble, who tipped us off to some comments Knoxville radio host Jeff Jacoby made about Makayla Epps on the “Doc, Jeff, & Heather In The Morning” Show on WNML 99.1 FM today.
Jacoby, pictured on the right, has been with the Vol Radio Network for 14 years. This morning, he made it very clear to his cohosts — longtime voice of the Tennessee Lady Vols Mickey “Doc” Dearstone and former Tennessee volleyball star Heather Harrington — that he’s not a fan of UK Hoops star Makayla Epps. Here’s the entire exchange about Epps, who had 23 points last night, 14 in the third quarter.
Doc: “I think Makayla Epps had 14 in the third quarter.”
Harrington: “Yeah, she blew up in the third quarter. She went off.”
Jacoby: “She had 6 at halftime and 20 at the end of three.”
Doc: “Then they changed their defense and shut her down in the fourth quarter.”
Jacoby: “Wish we had changed it in the third quarter. [Laugh] You know, who knows. That’s one of those players where, if she plays for you, you love her, and if she plays for the other team, you just want to put your fist through her face.”
Doc: “Well, I…” [Nervous laughter]
Jacoby: “I’m sorry, that’s exactly — she is so — she gets that little head bob thing going on. I’m sorry, I have no place for that.”
Doc: “You know her dad played at Kentucky.”
Jacoby: “I know. I know. She’s a good player.”
Doc: “Only a junior too.”
Jacoby: “The only thing that absolutely just tickled me to death is she was standing in the backcourt trying to direct traffic and bounced it off her foot out of bounds, that was the best play of the night. I came out of my chair and went ‘YES!’ Then she goes, ‘My bad,” I said, ‘Yes it was.'”
Obviously a poor choice of words by Jacoby. Listen for yourself below:
He’s right about one thing: we do love Makayla.
Anthony’s response last night to Jeff Jacoby’s comments are what any child would want to hear from their father.
Jeff Jacoby responds with an apology. Hopefully this is the last we hear from him.
Governor Bevin approves $21 million for an expanded athletics eating facility (not the Wildcat Lodge)
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 27th, 2016 @ 1:36pm
Last night, Governor Bevin approved a $21 million proposal from UK to renovate, expand, and improve the Wildcat Coal Lodge, which led to some confusion because the Lodge is already really nice, right? If you listened to today’s show, you heard Matt clarify the situation. Here’s what we’ve heard.
Because of some twisted state funding laws, UK must ask for permission from the Kentucky government to spend its own money when it’s in excess of $600,000, which is kind of a hassle when you consider that UK is the only school in the SEC that has to do this. Regardless, while the proposal referenced upgrades to the Lodge, the $21 million will actually be spent on an expanded eating facility for all athletes on the north side of campus, a necessity since Blazer Hall, a dormitory that also houses a cafeteria for athletes, will be torn down once the new student center is completed in 2018.
Also of note: UK asked for funding for a new baseball stadium, but that was apparently turned down by the governor, a shame because that’s one of the few facilities in which UK kind of lags behind when compared to the rest of the league.
Nick will be by with more details about some other items approved in the budget proposal here in a bit.
By Haley Simpson on ©January 25th, 2016 @ 10:34pm
Women’s hoops defeated Tennessee 64-63 tonight in a nail bitting game that went down to the last second after holding a 57-47 lead with five minutes left to play.
Going down three spots in the AP poll today, the 12th ranked Wildcats spent the first half playing catch up to a Tennessee team that is ranked seven spots below them.
The Cats struggled for the entirety of the first period getting their shots to fall; only making 12 of 40 field-goals and 2 of 6 three pointers. So even though the Vols had 12 turnovers to Kentucky’s three turnovers, the game was far more closer than it should have been.
Even though the scored didn’t show it, the Cats outscored Tennessee 16-4 in paint in the first half, and there was 10 lead changes as well. Despite the efforts, Kentucky would still trail 35-28 at halftime.
They then spent the second half grabbing the lead, stretching the lead and then grasping at straws to hold on to the lead.Makayla Epps started the second half hot, scoring the Cats first seven points of the half within the first minute and 58 seconds to bring them within two at 35-37. Spending the majority of the third quarter playing catch-up, Taylor Murray finally hit the go-ahead three with 4:45 left in the quarter that was quickly trailed by Epps for a lay-up to stretch it to 45-42.
The 12-0 run by the Cats in the third quarter allowed the Cats to create some distance between them and the Vols, ending the quarter at 49-44; holding Tennessee to making 1 out of 11 of their last field-goals.
The Cats were able to hold off Tennessee’s advances in the fourth quarter, only allowing them to get within two at 49-47. However, a three by Epps, followed by an Evelyn Akhator and-one and a Vols shot-clock violation propelled the Cats to a quick 55-47 lead with just over five minutes to go.
However, what was once a ten point lead with half a quarter to go would be diminished to just a two point lead at 59-57 with two minutes to play. Thankfully, Janee Thompson would go 2-2 from the line and follow that with a jumper to leave the Cats ahead one at 63-62 after the Vols made a basket and went 1-2 from the charity stripe.
The last 28.1 seconds of the game were a whirlwind of back and forth and questioning if Kentucky would even be able to pull out the win. Kentucky was only up by one at 63-62. Tennessee fouled Janee Thompson, putting her at the line for two, where she missed the first and made the second, giving the Vols the ball. Once back down the court, Akhator would “foul” Tennessee’s Te’a Cooper to send her to the line for two as well. Cooper then went on to make her first and miss her second, where Tennessee grabbed the offensive rebound, attempted to put it back up, missing the shot and losing the ball.
On the next possession Tennessee fouled Camara, where she missed both free throws, and the Vols rebounded the ball with four seconds to go, giving Tennessee the ball for a chance to win. With that four seconds, Tennessee’s Cooper failed to put up a shot before time expired, Kentucky getting the 64-63 victory.
Individually, Epps had a heck of a night. She was basically unstoppable in the third quarter, scoring 14 of her 23 points. Along with those 23 points, she had two assists, a rebound and was the fire behind the third period resurgence that led to a 10 point lead.
“She really, really took over in the third quarter and that was a huge positive development for our team. So I just tried to tell her to have some confidence and stop trying so hard and just focus in and do the right thing and shoot on balance and attack the rim and she’d have some success. She did that,” Matthew Mitchell said after the game.
For Thompson, she had 15 points, six assists and three steals of her own. Camara, in her first start as a Wildcat was major in the paint, gathering eight points and nine rebounds.
Overall, the Cats were out rebounded 41-38, but outscored the Vols in the paint 34-16. Kentucky even had a season low of 10 turnovers the entire game, which Mitchell deemed a miracle.
The Cats will be back in Memorial on Thursday against Vanderbilt at 7.
It was a wild nighty in Memorial Coliseum, but in the end Matthew Mitchell’s squad beat Tennessee 64-63, his fifth victory over the Volunteers at UK.
With a double-digit lead late in the game, Tennessee came storming back with an 8-2 run. The final minute was pure insanity, with missed free throws from both teams and a failed second chance attempt to name just a few.
More to come from Haley and J.C. who were courtside at the Coliseum.
By Drew Franklin on ©January 25th, 2016 @ 6:00pm
For those of you with a gambling itch for women’s basketball that needs to be scratched, Kentucky is favored by 8.5 points over Tennessee in tonight’s game. That line is according to SportBet.com, a website I had never heard of until about two hours ago.
As for the game’s storyline, the Cats find themselves at No. 12 in the new poll, seven spots ahead of the Lady Vols, when it was released earlier today. Matthew Mitchell’s squad is looking to avenge its three losses to Tennessee last season, beginning with the one-point loss in Memorial Coliseum and then double-digit losses in Knoxville and in the SEC Tournament.
Tonight’s game will be televised on ESPN2 as part of ESPN’s Big Monday. Tip-off is set for 7:00 pm and students can get in free with a valid ID.
Kentucky Baseball Ranked Preseason No. 25 by Baseball America, JaVon Shelby Named Preseason All American
By Brooks Holton on ©January 25th, 2016 @ 11:42am
It’s gotta’ be the hair.
Need a little good news to get you through this snowy Monday morning? Only 24 days until Kentucky Baseball returns for another spring (February 19th in Spartanburg, South Carolina). Need even more good news? The Bat Cats round out Baseball America‘s Preseason Top 25 that was released today, as the seventh SEC team to make the cut.
Junior third basemen JaVon Shelby (Lexington, KY) was also named third-team All-American this morning by D1baseball.com as well. Shelby is coming off an All-SEC 2015 campaign (.312, 9 HR, 44 RBI), and will enter 2016 as one of the best in the Southeastern Conference in OPS during conference play (1.073). The Cats are going to need another great year from the standout upperclassman if they want to make it through another grueling schedule in one of the most difficult and consistent conferences in the country.
Check out the rest of Baseball America’s Preseason Top 25 below, and look for more baseball coverage in the coming weeks as we get you ready for what should be another exciting season for the Bat Cats.
After coming off a win over Auburn on Sunday, Kentucky left the snowy Bluegrass state and went down to Oxford, Miss. to face former UK Assistant Coach, Matt Insell’s Ole Miss squad. After struggling most of the game, Kentucky just couldn’t get wind in their sails, and fell to the Rebels, 73-65.
Kentucky struggled to get started early and the Rebels took a quick lead in the first three minutes of the game. A gorgeous three pointer by Maci Morris, who had ten points in the first ten minutes, put the Cats up by one with 7:00 left in the first quarter. The game went back and forth from there, and even though Kentucky made 5 of their last 6 shots to close out the quarter, Ole Miss made 5 of their 8 three point attempts in the first ten minutes of play, keeping them in front going into the second period, 23-18.
Second verse, same as the first. A pair of jumpers by Alexis Jennings and Makayla Epps brought the Cats within one with 7:24 left in the first half, but Ole Miss was able to keep a hold of their lead with a three pointer. The Rebels continued to score, partly because Kentucky wasn’t able to box-out, but the Cats stayed on their heels, only trailing by two possessions in the second period. To end the second quarter, Kentucky missed six of their last seven in a nearly five minute scoring drought. At the end of the first half, Mississippi led Kentucky 35-31. The Cats shot 44% from the field, and made half of their three pointers (2-4). Ole Miss was able to outrebound the Cats 19-18, and forced 10 Kentucky turnovers. Morris and Epps both had ten points at the half. Janee Thompson had 3 assists.
In the first seven seconds of the third period Ole Miss hit a three pointer and shortly after, a turnover by Epps gave Ole Miss another clear three pointer, giving them a ten point lead in under a minute. Kentucky was as cold as ice in the middle of the third quarter, going without a basket for four straight minutes. Akhator’s and-one cut Ole Miss’s lead to five around the five minute mark.Janee Thompson cut it to three with her first points of the night with 4 minutes to go in the third quarter. Ole Miss kept going, making 3 of their last 3 shots of the period and leading the Cats by 7 going into the final ten minutes of the game.
The Rebels continued to roll in the fourth quarter, extending the lead to twelve early in the period. But, thanks to Epps and Thompson, Kentucky went on an 8-0 run, cutting the Reb’s lead to 4. Janee Thompson went down hard with a minute and fifty seconds left in the game clutching her left ankle, the same leg she freakishly injured in last season’s South Carolina game. She was carried off the court. Shortly after, Ole Miss ran the lead to nine and the game was over from there. Ole Miss gets the victory, 73-65.
Despite trailing most of the game, Kentucky shot 47% from the field to Ole Miss’s 41% and outrebounded them 36-33. They also outscored the Rebels in the paint, 34-32. Ole Miss forced 21 turnovers on the Cats, converting them into 22 points. Three Wildcats ended the game in double-digits, Epps with 22, Morris with 10, and Evelyn Akhator with 13. Alexis Jennings led the team with 9 rebounds. As soon as I find something out about Janee Thompson’s ankle, I will put it on twitter, @JC_KSR.
Here’s tonight’s box score:
Kentucky will now look towards Monday and their game against #18 Tennessee in their “We Back Pat” game in Memorial at 7pm. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2. Stay safe out there in this crazy weather, everyone.