On a stormy Saturday on the Plains (tip off was delayed because of a tornado warning), the Kentucky Hoops team edged Auburn 64-60 to win their fourth game in a row. With the victory, Matthew Mitchell’s team improved to 14-6 on the year and 5-2 in Southeastern Conference play.
By defeating the Tigers, the Cats leapfrogged them for fourth place in the conference race behind co-leaders Mississippi State and South Carolina. The Texas A & M Aggies, who UK lost to earlier this month at home, are nestled by a nose in third.
Below are the important takeaways from this afternoon’s action:
Maci Made Up For Her Miscues
Kentucky’s two opening possessions had to be ones that sophomore guard Maci Morris would like to forget. Twice she turned the ball over and Auburn pounced to take an early 4-0 lead. Then, after a Makayla Epps layup and an Auburn miss, Morris took a pass from Taylor Murray and netted a beautiful trey to give Kentucky the lead.
The crowd favorite from Pineville has struggled with her shot for majority of the season. Despite that she has displayed tremendous toughness by playing hard nosed defense. Often Coach Mitchell signals out Morris for being one of the grittiest players on the team, her play later in the game demonstrated why.
Late in the fourth quarter, with Kentucky clinging to a three-point lead, Morris fouled the Tigers Janiah McKay. Two free throws later and the lead was down to a single point. After a timeout and with only three seconds on the shot clock, Morris stared misfortune right in the eye and hit a jumper to extend the lead, and subsequently gutting the hosts.
Morris finished with 18 points, including four triples, to go along with nine rebounds and an ungainly six turnovers.
However, One Streak Did End
A staple of Kentucky’s winning ways over the past two weeks is senior forward Evelyn Akhator putting in over 20 points and double digit rebounds, Unfortunately, the referees whistle cooled down Akhator’s stint of lights out play. She battled foul trouble all game long and never got in rhythm, finishing with seven points and six rebounds,
While it is never good to see a player of Akhator’s quality struggle, the need for a hero opened the door for Maci Morris to step up and break out of her slump. Guards Makayla Epps and Taylor Murray each stepped up to score in double figures. Epps finished with 17 points and Murray contributed 14.
The Game Was No Beauty Pageant
A road win is never something to take for granted, but this was one was a particularly hideous one. Kentucky turned the ball over 19 times, the main culprits were Morris, Murray, and Mackenzie Cann. The Cats hit seven 3-pointers but also took 22, a too high tally for a team that excels at attacking the rim. Also, the Cats continued a rough patch at the charity stripe by shooting 13-of-21 in contrast to Auburn’s perfect effort at the line.