The Kentucky women’s basketball team is holding steady as the halfway point of league play approaches. Matthew Mitchell and the Wildcats are 17-3 on the season (4-2 in the SEC). Point guard Taylor Murray is still running the ship – she gets the most playing time of anyone on the team, and she leads the team in steals, blocks and shooting percentage (49.4 percent). Last season, she was chosen for the SEC All-Defensive Team. Now, the senior is being recognized for her achievements on the national level – Murray has been named to the Naismith Women’s Defensive Player of the Year Watch List.
Murray is one of four players from the SEC who made the list. She joins last year’s winner, Teaira McCowan of Mississippi State, Anriel Howard (also of MSU) and Caliya Robinson (Georgia). There are 15 total players on the watch list.
Her speed and mobility allow Murray to be a serious threat on defense. She’s quick and she’s incredibly efficient at creating turnovers – her 68 steals this season put her in the top-10 nationwide. Murray has posted three or more steals in 14 games so far this season, and she’s led Kentucky in steals in 67 of her 114 games, including 14 times this season. She needs just 20 more steals to enter the program’s top 5 all-time list.
And while she’s currently being recognized for her defensive efforts, Murray helps the Wildcats on both ends of the court – she’s averaging 12.7 points per game. In the Cats’ latest matchup, Murray recorded a game-high 21 points while adding four rebounds, four steals and two assists against No. 25 Missouri.
Semifinalists for the award will be announced in February.