No. 20 Kentucky Begins Three-game Home Stretch Wednesday; Cats Face Morehead
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Looking to get back to its winning ways after its first loss of the season last weekend at Colorado, the No. 20 University of Kentucky women’s basketball team will begin a three-game home stretch Wednesday, Nov. 23 when it plays host to in-state foe Morehead State at 7 p.m. ET inside Memorial Coliseum for the annual Terry Hall Memorial Classic.
“Well, it is good to be back in Lexington,” UK head coach Matthew Mitchell said. “It was a tough trip out to Colorado. I thought the team really learned a lot from that game. So it was good to get back and we had some good work yesterday and we will have to work hard today and tomorrow to get prepared for a Morehead State team that is off to a very good start. They are very well coached and can really spread you out and drive the ball, which we struggled with early in the season. So we have a lot of work to do between now and tomorrow night to get ready for a good Morehead State team.”
The game will be broadcast live on the SEC Network+ with Jeff Piecoro on play-by-play and Christi Thomas as the analyst. The game can be seen through WatchESPN on computers, smartphones or tablets. Now in his 12th season, Neil Price will have the call on the UK Sports Network. Fans in Lexington can hear Price’s call of the game on WLAP 630AM. Live stats and free audio will be available online at ukathletics.com.
Wednesday’s game will be the annual Terry Hall Memorial Classic, which was introduced during the 2011-12 season. Terry Hall held the distinction of the winningest head coach in UK program history before being passed by Matthew Mitchell.
Hall coached the Cats to seven consecutive winning seasons from 1980-87, charting a 138-66 overall record (67.7%). At the end of her tenure, she owned the most wins and the best winning percentage of any coach to guide the program. Hall started with a 25-6 record in 1980-81 and a trip to the second round of the AIAW national tournament before falling by one point to Maryland. The NCAA welcomed women's basketball into its ranks the following year, and that historical season ended with the Cats falling to eventual national champion Louisiana Tech in the Midwest Regional finals on the Lady Techsters' home floor. After the Cats failed to make the NCAA tournament in 1986-87, Hall left coaching for the business sector. But three years later, she accepted the head coaching job at Wright State University, where she coached for seven years before succumbing to cancer in 1997.
Kentucky, which fell to No. 20 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 this week, has started its season with a 3-1 record. UK suffered its first loss of the season last weekend against Colorado, falling 79-69 in Boulder. The Wildcats are 3-0 at home this season with wins over highly ranked Miami (Fla.), Albany and New Hampshire. Wednesday’s game against Morehead State begins a three-game home stand for Kentucky, who will face Samford on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET and No. 13 Oklahoma on Thursday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. ET on SEC Network.
In its first four games, Kentucky is averaging 78.2 points per game and allowing just 58.5 points per game. The Wildcats are hitting .464 from the field, including .380 from 3 and .679 from the free-throw line. Opponents are hitting just .337 from the field against UK and just .281 from 3. UK is out-rebounding opponents by four rebounds per game, while averaging 15.8 assists per game.
Senior post Evelyn Akhator leads Kentucky in scoring by averaging 18.8 points per game, adding 12.0 rebounds per game. Akhator has four straight double-doubles to start the season and has five straight double-doubles dating back to last season. Akhator is the first Kentucky player since Eleia Roddy in 2008-09 to record five or more consecutive double-doubles. For her career, Akhator had 17 double-doubles to rank seventh most in program history.
Senior guard Makayla Epps is second on the team in scoring by averaging 16.3 points per game. The native of Lebanon, Ky., leads the team in assists and steals with 20 and eight, respectively. Epps is hitting at a .468 clip from the field this season. For her career, Epps has 1,272 points ranking 18th-most in program history.
Two other Wildcats are averaging double figures this season. Sophomore guard Maci Morris has scored in double figures in three of the team’s four games, averaging 10.8 points per game with seven assists, three blocks and four steals. Junior wing Makenzie Cann is averaging 10.0 points per game with 4.8 rebounds per game. Cann had a career game against New Hampshire, scoring 20 points, hitting 6-of-9 3s.
Morehead State has started its season with a 3-1 record most recently defeating Miami (Ohio) on Saturday, 77-43 in Morehead. The Eagles started the season with a 68-50 loss to Georgia State before back-to-back wins against Eastern Michigan, 78-73, and Alice Lloyd College, 92-42.
In its first four games of the season, Morehead State averaged 74.2 points per game, limiting opponents to just 56.5 points per game. The Eagles are shooting 40.0% from the field this season, including 29.9% from 3. Morehead State is averaging 19.8 assists per game.
Junior forward Eriel McKee leads the team by averaging 13.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game this season, while sophomore guard Miranda Crockett is averaging 9.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game with 14 assists. Redshirt senior guard Brianna McQueen has started three games and is averaging 9.7 points and 4.7 rebounds, while senior forward Shay Steele is averaging 9.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.
The Eagles are in their third season under Greg Todd, who has served his entire coaching tenure in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, including eight seasons at Transylvania University in Lexington. Morehead State returns their top four scorers from last season who accounted for nearly 1,500 of the team’s points. MSU was one of the best offensive teams in the nation last season, scoring 79.4 points per game to rank 10th nationally in that category.
Wednesday game is the 33rd all-time meeting between Kentucky and Morehead State with the Wildcats holding the all-time lead in the series, 28-4. Kentucky leads the series in games played in Lexington, 18-1, including winning 17 straight home games against the Eagles. Overall, the Wildcats have won 11 straight over the Eagles.
Kentucky and Morehead State met last season inside Memorial Coliseum with the Wildcats earning their largest win in the series, 112-57. Makayla Epps made history as just the second Wildcat to notch a triple-double with 21 points, 11 assists and 12 rebounds. In all, three Kentucky players had double-doubles in the game, which had not happened for UK since 1989.
The Wildcats earned 67 rebounds in the win, which tied the school record for most rebounds in a game, while UK's 32 assists were one shy of the school record of 33. The Wildcats out-rebounded the Eagles 67-42 and had a 70-22 advantage in points in the paint.
UK women's basketball season tickets are $65 and still available in upper level chairbacks, lower level bleachers and general admission upper level bleachers. Single-game tickets for all Kentucky home games are available through the UK Ticket Office and through Ticketmaster.com. Single-game tickets are $9 for reserved seating (all ages), $8 for general admission seating (adults) and $5 for general admission seating (youth 6-18/seniors 65+). General admission seating is free for ages five and under.
Photo by Britney Howard, UK Athletics