In an exciting matchup, UK Hoops defeated Auburn 64-60 on the road, therefore extending their winning streak to four straight SEC games.
After a tip-off delay due to a tornado warning in the Auburn area, the Cats responded to the Tigers’ quick four points with a 7-0 run. Turnovers were an issue for Kentucky early, giving up six in the first quarter alone. Maci Morris and Taylor Murray were both on the mark from the beginning, scoring six points each in the first ten minutes of action. The Cats led 19-14 at the end of the first.
At the start of the game, Kentucky’s offensive skills gave them the lead, as they went 8-13 from the field in the first quarter. By the end of the half, however, Auburn’s defense improved, forcing the Cats’ field goal percentage to drop from 61.5 percent in the first quarter to 28.9 percent in the second. Still, Kentucky went into the locker room leading 29-26.
After halftime, UK seemed lost, allowing a 10-0 Auburn run while giving up five quick turnovers and shooting just 1-4 from the field. Coach Matthew Mitchell received a technical foul. Finally, Makayla Epps hit a three to give the Cats some much-needed momentum.
The rest of the quarter was a battle. At one point, the Cats trailed by seven. By the end of the quarter, however, they were within one point (44-45).
“Our word today is poise,” Epps said after the game. “Coach just kept telling us to keep our poise. I told everyone to stay positive and keep going, and we did.”
The team clearly kept this in mind during the hard-fought fourth quarter. Morris led the team, as she ended her night with 18 points and a career-high nine rebounds. She hit four baskets behind the arc and added one block and one steal. Epps was right behind her with 17 points, while Murray added 14 and Evelyn Akhator scored seven.
“I’m so proud of our team,” Mitchell said. “I’m as proud of this win as I am any win we’ve had in a long, long time.”
UK Hoops will return to action in Lexington on Thursday, Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. to take on Ole Miss.