Another day and another rough and tumble game for the UK Hoops team, this time on the road against the Georgia Bulldogs in lovely Athens, Georgia.
The Cats and the Dawgs simultaneously struggled to find the hoop and neither team was able to edge ahead by a comfortable margin. After a back and forth first quarter, Kentucky moved ahead, albeit slightly, leading at intermission 36-31. However, despite the narrow margin, Matthew Mitchell’s team never relinquished the lead and won 66-56.
With the win, the Cats move to 17-8 on the season with an 8-4 conference record good for fourth place in the SEC--a game and half up on archrival Tennessee for a bye in the league tournament.
Kentucky Camped at the Foul Line
For the second consecutive game in a row, Kentucky shot under forty percent from the field, and for the second time in as many games the Cats made up the difference in free throws.
Georgia committed an even 20 fouls and sent Kentucky to the line 21 times. The Cats converted 18 of their subsequent attempts, good for 86 percent.
With Kentucky following an established trend of struggling to put the ball in the basket for extended periods of time the ability to get to and make free throws might end up being the difference between the team ending their seasson on the first weekend of the NCAA tournament or advancing further down the pike.
Maci Was Marvelous
The Big Blue Nation loves to see its own show up and show off. More often than not, senior leader and Lebanon native Makayla Epps comes through to do just that. She did against the Dawgs, netting a team-high 16 points.
Epps won't be around forever and the mantle to sentimental favortie will fall to Bell County's own Maci Morris. Dead-eye from deep last season, Morris is staring down a sophmore slump with a few gems thrown into the mix, like tonight.
Morris' shot was off--she was 1-of-3 from beyond the arc, 3-of-6 overall--but finished a perfect 8-of-8 from the foul line.
With an underrated ability to drive to the hole off the bounce, tremedous grit, and a sweet stroke, Morris is staring dead ahead at the next step in her evolution as a player. Once she nails down consistency with her inside-outside game she will have a chace at filling Epps' production in points next season, which of course will drive the crowds at Memorial crazy with pride for the homestate girl.
Jaida Provided Some Juice
Freshman backup point guard Jaida Roper is developing into a potent weapon off the bench. Her defense and play making are solid, but she rarely provides a scoring punch.
Roper went 3-of-5 against Georgia (2-of-3 from downtown) and lead the bench in scoring with eight. While these kinds of outbursts are not crucial to the team yet, it is great sign to see a prized frosh trending upward as the season begins to wind down.