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Preview and Game Thread: #24 Kentucky Women’s BB vs. Sanford

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Can Kentucky wrap up an incredible Thanksgiving weekend with a win at Memorial?

NCAA Basketball: New Jersey Tech at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

What a phenomenal weekend for UK Athletics! First the number one ranked men’s basketball team delivers their second straight win with over 100 points, then the football squad knocks off #11 Louisville on the road! If the women can pull off a major victory today at Memorial Coliseum, I think it’s safe to say this has been one of the best weekends to be a Wildcat in recent history.

But first, the ladies have to beat Samford.

Samford arrives in Lexington with a record of 2-3, having narrowly beaten UT-Martin 69-62 in their most recent game. While the Bulldogs had one of their best seasons in program history last year, with 20 wins and a defense that allowed only 50 points a game, they lost their top rebounder and top three scorers from that squad. This year’s squad has a very different, and younger look. They’re allowing 60 points so far on average this season and hitting only 41% of their shots from the field. Contrast that to the Wildcats, who are averaging 46% from the field, and are allowing their opponents 56 points.

Bulldog players to watch include Kassidy Blevins, who is averaging 15.2 ppg, and is a blistering 51% shooter from inside the arc and 48% from beyond. (Hint for our Wildcats: if you have to let her score, try and do it from the FT line, she’s a miserable 63% shooter on the season from the charity stripe!) The only other Samford player averaging in double digits (also 15.2 ppg) this season is Hannah Nichols, who’s hitting 43% of her shots inside, 32% from three point range and a respectable 71% from the stripe.

What are we hoping to see today, aside from a win?

  • An ongoing improvement in FT shooting. The Cats are hitting just 69% on the season, and for those playing along at home that’s good enough for 7th in the SEC. Free throw shooting, or lack of, cost us a win and our undefeated record at Colorado, where the Cats hit a dismal 57%.If we want to make any sort of noise this season, we need to get our FT shooting upwards of 75%.
  • To see Makenzie Cann and Alyssa Rice in double figures. Makenzie is so close at 9.4 ppg, and if we can get her a little more comfort in shooting it can make a big difference in her skills coming off the bench. Meanwhile, Alyssa is averaging just 6 ppg, which is simply not ok for someone who’s averaging 22 minutes of PT. I think Alyssa’s shooting woes can be greatly remedied with improving her FT shooting, where she’s just 4/8 on the season. With her height, she can draw a lot more fouls and then convert them into points on the board.
  • The ongoing defensive prowess of Maci Morris and Taylor Murray. Maci’s strong shooting continues to shine, but did you know she has the second most blocks on the team? Taylor continues to be the opposing team’s nightmare with her ability to steal the ball, but she’s also averaging 4.8 rebounds per game...pretty awesome for someone only 5’6”.
  • Another double double for Evelyn Akhator.

Sadly and yet again, today’s game isn’t televised. (But the next game, Thursday against Oklahoma IS televised on the SEC Network! Hooray!) But you can tune in via ESPN3, or listen to Neil Price calling the action via iHeart on 630 WLAP.

Tipoff is at 2 EST. Until then, Wildcat fans....Go Big Blue!