After rolling over the Tide in Memorial Coliseum on Thursday, the Cats went down to Georgia this afternoon to face a 12-3 Bulldog squad. After a messy game, Kentucky came out with the win, 64-53 on the backs on Jennings and Akhator’s double-doubles.
From the start, the game was destined to be a mess. After UK won the tip, the refs called a timeout because the game clock didn’t start running. After a Kentucky turnover on the very first play, Georgia started the game with an early 2-0 lead. Soon after, Alexis Jennings put Kentucky on the board with a jumper and tied the game at the 8:14 mark in the first quarter. Kentucky took the lead with an offensive rebound and put-back by Evelyn Akhator, and shortly after a free throw by Makayla Epps lengthened the Cats’ lead, 6-2. From there, Georgia never regained the lead and the Cats didn’t look back. At the end of the first quarter, Kentucky led 15-11.
The game continued to be ragged in the second quarter. Kentucky’s first points of the second period didn’t come until the 7:22 mark with a midrange jumper by Alexis Jennings. Between the fouls and the turnovers, it seemed that players from both teams spent more time looking towards the refs than actually playing the game. During a 12-0 Kentucky run, Maci Morris got the Cats to their largest lead of the game at around the four minute mark with her second three of the game, making it 25-15. Kentucky’s defense was stellar–Georgia only hit two FG’s in the last eight minutes of the first half. At halftime, the Cats led by 10, 31-21, shooting 39% from the field. Kentucky was outrebounding UGA 24-15 with Jennings leading with 7 rebounds and tied with Maci Morris for 6 points. Both teams struggled with turnovers during the first half; Georgia forced 12 turnovers, while Kentucky, in turn, forced 11 off the Bulldogs.
The turnover trend continued early into the third period–within the first thirty seconds of the second half, both teams had already turned the ball over. Maci Morris had Kentucky’s first points of the second half with a beautiful three pointer. During UGA’s 4 minute scoring drought late in the third period, Kentucky continued to extend their lead, 40-28. After a layup from Alyssa Rice to give the Cats a fifteen point lead, you could see Georgia definitely starting to deflate, committing five turnovers and missing ten of their last twelve shots in the third period. At the end of the third, Kentucky led by 14, 44-30.
Georgia managed to cut the lead to 11 at the 7:41 mark of the fourth period, forcing Coach Mitchell to call a timeout. Out of that timeout, Georgia’s Merritt Hempe hit a three pointer which gave the Bulldogs some energy to cut their deficit to eight. In the last three and a half minutes, Kentucky only made one of their last 5 field goal attempts, giving the Dogs the opportunity to cut it to six. A steal by Taylor Murray at the 42 second mark put the proverbial nail in the coffin and Kentucky got out of Athens with a win, 64-53.
The game was full of turnovers for both teams; Kentucky committed 22 turnovers and Georgia had 21, but Georgia was able to convert 21 points off Kentucky’s TO’s while the Cats were only able to get 15. Kentucky shot 37% from the field and 79% from the line. The Hoops outrebounded the Bulldogs, 45-35. Jennings ended the game with her third-straight double-double, 12 points, 12 rebounds. Evelyn Akhator also got a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Makayla Epps led all scorers with 13 points and had 3 assists. With today’s win, Kentucky goes to 13-1 on the season.
Kentucky will return to Memorial Coliseum on Thursday to face the #2 South Carolina Gamecocks. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network at 7pm. Hopefully, Makayla Epps will feel inspired to drop 42 points and we’ll see a repeat of last year:
Until then. Go Cats.