Thursday night's game against Louisville was, in this humble writer's opinion, the best we've seen this squad play all year. In a fast paced game in which Kentucky never trailed, Makayla Epps showed why she's earned the nickname Big Game Epps. Epps' stat line is beyond impressive: 10/11 from the field (91%!), 3/4 from the stripe, a three pointer, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. Three other Wildcats joined BGE in double-digit scoring to include Alexis Jennings(11), Taylor Murray (11), and Janee Thompson (10). Overall the Cats shot 52% from the field and 43% from beyond the arc. Other players had impressive shows on defense, to include Maci Morris's block and a steal, and Evelyn Akhator's 9 rebounds and 2 blocks.
The only slightly frustrating part of the game was free throw shooting, where the Cats slipped to a completely unacceptable 57%. This can mostly be attributed to poor Evelyn having a truly horrible night at the charity stripe, hitting only 1 of her 6 attempts. Aside from that, there's not really much a fan can complain about...it was a great game at every level.
The Cats now shift their focus to today's matchup against the 4-3 Blue Raiders of MTSU. This will be the Raiders' third SEC matchup, having split their results thus far with a win over another Insell-led club from Ole Miss, and a loss to Alabama. UK is currently riding a 3 game win streak over MTSU, and are 5-2 against the Raiders under Matthew Mitchell's tenure. That in no way should sound like today's game is an easy victory: the Cats' losses to this club have all been on the road, and it will take serious effort from the team to extend that streak to 4-0.
MTSU players to watch include senior forward Brea Edwards, who's averaging 21.9 points and 7 rebounds per game. She is currently the only MTSU player averaging in double digits. Brea is currently ranked the 13th in the nation for scoring, and is the BEST three point shooter in the country at 30/59 or 50%. (FIFTY PERCENT FROM THREE. I SAY MAYBE WE GUARD HER.)
Our keys to victory today:
- Play fast but not so fast we play dumb. Effective ball control continues to be critical. We only had 18 TOs against UofL, which was much lower that I'd anticipated. Anything more than 15 against MTSU will be a step backwards for this club.
- Hit free throws. If everyone figures out that the best way to deny the Cats points is to foul against Evelyn, it's gonna be a LONG season.
- As previously stated, guard the heck out of Brea Edwards. (Seriously, she's already scored 30 three-pointers 7 games into the season???) Matthew stated in his pre-game presser that he's putting Maci on Brea, so we'll have a battle of perimeter shooters. Maci's definitely improving on defense, so it will be interesting to see what she can do today against one of the country's best...she certainly held her own Thursday against UofL's Mariya Moore.
- Maybe not depend so much on BGE. I know she had the hot hands Thursday but we have a lot of season to go, and absolutely no depth to speak of. Alexis had an amazing 4th quarter, I'd love to see her with a breakout game today.
Sadly, today's game isn't televised (really getting tired of typing that) but you can catch all the action at 3 PM EST on 630 WLAP with ASoB's fave radio man, Neil Price. (You can also catch it listening in on C-USA network (audio only) but really, why would you not just listen to Neil???)
Until 3 PM Eastern, Cat fans...GO BIG BLUE!