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.
“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.”