While most of us were still recovering from the long weekend and a massive win over Loser-ville, the Kentucky women’s basketball team was back at work. The Wildcats crushed the Samford University Bulldogs 80-57 at home. You can read Haley’s game recap HERE. And now, here are five of the most important notes from today’s victory:
1. The Cats’ Offense Dominated
Samford’s defense was no match for Kentucky’s offense today, which ended the game hitting 51.9% from the floor. Just last season, the Bulldogs owned the number three defense in the nation, holding their opponents to just 50.2 points per game. The cats hit that mark by the third quarter, no problem.
2. And the team played with a balanced offense
Four of the eight Cats with minutes in today’s matchup scored in the double digits: Evelyn Akhator (15 points, 13 rebounds), Makayla Epps (20 points, 5 rebounds), Taylor Murray (15 points, 5 rebounds) and Mackenzie Cann (12 points). Two more players, Maci Morris and Jessica Hardin, finished with eight points.
After the game, Coach Mitchell commented on the benefits of having such a well-rounded team.
“When you have people who can score and you can be a balanced offensive team, [opponents] can’t just take that away. Being balanced makes us harder to prepare for,” Mitchell said. “We have a lot of weapons offensively.”
3. The defense held their own — especially in the first half
In a team that has consistently struggled on the defensive end of the ball, today was a different story — especially in the first half. Samford’s leading scorers, Kassidy Blevins and Hannah Nichols, who both average 15.2 points per game, were shut down in the first half. Blevins ended the half with four points, while Nichols had just two. By the third quarter, however, the Cats had a decisive lead, and the defense slowly slipped away. Blevins and Nichols both found their groove, and they finished with 18 and 17 points, respectively.
“We clearly lost some intensity in the second half,” said Mitchell. “We’re going to have to correct that.”
Makayla Epps agreed.
“The energy sort of dropped being up so high,” said Epps. “We kind of put the car in cruise, and that’s something we can’t do.”
4. Taylor Murray continued to shine
Coming off a stellar performance against Morehead State earlier this week, sophomore Taylor Murray had another great game. After scoring a career high 18 points against Morehead, Murray finished today with an equally impressive 15 points and five rebounds.
5. What the team lacks in communication, they make up for in chemistry
All season, Mitchell has pressed the issue of communicating on the court. Although it’s still a work in progress, he recognizes this team is full of high-character girls.
“This particular team has a great spirit about them: they want to please, they work hard in the classroom, they represent us well off the court, there are no complainers,” said Mitchell. “They are great, great, high-caliber young women, and I just have to work really hard to bring out their competitiveness.”
Once again, Epps agreed with her coach.
“This is probably the most cordial, loving, caring team I’ve been on since I’ve been here. I was just saying this in the locker room – we really like each other, but we don’t talk to each other on the court. It’s different,” Epps said with a laugh.
The Cats have two tough games coming up: No. 20 Kentucky vs. No. 13 Oklahoma at home this Thursday, Dec. 1 at 7:00, and against No. 4 Louisville at the KFC Yum! Center on Sunday, Dec. 4 at 2:00.