Kentucky Women Advance in SEC Tournament; Morris Hits 25 Points in 71-64 Victory
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Maci Morris scored 25 points, including 18 in the second half, as Kentucky beat Alabama 71-64 on Thursday, March 1 in the SEC Tournament at Bridgestone Arena.
For Morris (pictured), it was the seventh straight game in which she has scored 20 points or more. The junior from Bell County High School hit nine of 16 from the floor, including five of eight from behind the arc, while adding seven rebounds and a career-high six assists. With her effort on Thursday, Morris moved into 20th place on Kentucky's career scoring list with 1,196 points. Kentucky (15-16) also got a big effort from junior guard Taylor Murray, who had 18 points, six rebounds and five assists. Dorie Harrisonadded eight points for the Cats, while Alyssa Rice had seven points and six rebounds.
Alabama took a 6-1 lead early in the game before Kentucky got its offense going. The Wildcats answered with a 7-2 run, sparked by five points from Morris, to tie the game at 8-8. But Kentucky went cold at that point, failing to score for the last 5:14 of the period. Meanwhile, Alabama ran off 10 straight points to lead 18-8 after the first quarter. The second quarter was much different, as Kentucky turned up the defense, forcing Alabama to miss six straight shots from the field while turning the ball over four times. Kentucky held Alabama without a point for the first 5:29 of the period, climbing back into the game with an 8-0 run. Kentucky would eventually claim a 21-20 lead on a layup by Murray. But again, Alabama answered, this time with five straight points, and the Tide would lead 25-23 at the break.
Early in the third quarter, Alabama built a six-point advantage, 32-26. But Kentucky fought back, scoring the next seven points to take a 33-32 lead. Alabama answered UK's run with a 12-2 stretch to make it 44-35. Again, Kentucky would not go away, answering Alabama's run with a 13-2 stretch, keyed by five points from Morris, to take a 48-46 lead. Kentucky would hold a 50-48 lead at the end of the period. The Wildcats had 27 points in the third quarter after scoring 23 in the entire first half. Kentucky held a four-point advantage early in the fourth quarter, 54-50 before Alabama rallied to tie the game at 55 apiece. But, as they did all day, Morris and Murray helped the Cats pull ahead. Kentucky would lead by as many as seven points on three occasions, including at the final horn.
Commented UK coach Matthew Mitchell, "We were able to overcome a really slow start that could have discouraged our team, and they just kept fighting back. So proud of 'em, and really a tremendous victory against a tough Alabama team."
Kentucky returns to action on Friday, as the Wildcats face unbeaten Mississippi State in the SEC Tournament at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. ET and the game can be seen on the SEC Network.
UK Athletics Photo by Britney Howard