In a tightly contested SEC battle, the 10th ranked Kentucky women’s basketball team outlasted the Auburn Tigers on the road 73-71 this afternoon. The Wildcats fought back from a 13 point first half deficit to trail the Tigers by one at halftime, and used strong play from the trio of Jennifer O’Neill, Samarie Walker, and Linnae Harper to hold on in the final minutes.
UK got off to another slow start, their fourth in a row, and had to counter the stellar play of Auburn’s star Tyrese Tanner. Tanner finished with 28 points, but foul trouble hindered AU’s offensive attack and Kentucky took advantage. Jennifer O’Neill finally started heating up from downtown and she led the Wildcats with 16 points. Samarie Walker was undoubtedly the player of the game for Kentucky however, as the senior recorded yet another double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds and was ever steady for UK in the paint.
Near the end of the game, when Kentucky was pressured to score on offense to keep away the run of the Tigers, freshman Linnae Harper stepped up for the Cats. She had two back-to-back plays of offensive rebounds and putbacks to energize UK, and looked like a player beyond her years on the road. UK was able to win despite their horrendous performance from the free throw line. The Cats shot 13-29 (33.3%) from the foul strike and cannot seem to shake that major flaw in their gameplay.
Wins on the road in the Southeastern Conference are always a hot commodity, so Coach Mitchell will surely be pleased of the effort his team put forth to gut out a win against a young and scrappy Auburn squad. Kentucky is now 15-3 overall and 3-2 in the SEC, drawing even with Tennessee and Florida in a tie for 4th place in the league standings.
The Cats return to action Thursday night at home as they host the lowly Alabama Crimson Tide in Memorial Coliseum. 7:00 pm. Be there.